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New battery electrolyte developed at Stanford may boost the performance of electric vehicles

posted Oct 21, 2020, 2:45 PM by Frederick H. Schuchardt

June 22, 2020
By Mark Shwartz

A new lithium-based electrolyte invented by Stanford University scientists could pave the way for the next generation of battery-powered electric vehicles.

In a study published June 22 in Nature Energy, Stanford researchers demonstrate how their novel electrolyte design boosts the performance of lithium metal batteries, a promising technology for powering electric vehicles, laptops and other devices.

“Most electric cars run on lithium-ion batteries, which are rapidly approaching their theoretical limit on energy density,” said study co-author Yi Cui, professor of materials science and engineering and of photon science at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. “Our study focused on lithium metal batteries, which are lighter than lithium-ion batteries and can potentially deliver more energy per unit weight and volume.”

EVs: Cleaner Cars from Cradle to Grave – Definitive Proof from the UCS

posted Aug 25, 2020, 2:54 PM by Frederick H. Schuchardt   [ updated Aug 25, 2020, 3:32 PM ]

Cleaner Cars from Cradle to Grave

Aug 16, 2019

The Union of Concerned Scientists has found that electric vehicles produce less than half the global warming emissions of comparable gasoline-powered cars. Period!

What follows is the Executive Summary from the 2015 Union of Concerned Scientists report titled,
Cleaner Cars from Cradle to Grave – How Electric Cars Beat Gasoline Cars on Lifetime Global Warming Emissions:

Electric vehicles (EVs) are a critical part of the American transportation future given their potential to dramatically cut global warming emissions—especially when charged by a clean electricity grid.

Together with other oil-saving approaches, such as more efficient vehicles and advanced biofuels, EVs can help cut projected U.S. oil use in half over the next 20 years. EVs will also be essential to achieving the deep emissions reductions by mid-century needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

This report compares battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) with similar gasoline vehicles by examining their global warming emissions over their “life cycles”—from the raw materials to make the car through manufacturing, driving, and disposal or recycling. Toward that end, we performed up-to-date assessments of the carbon footprints of BEVs, taking into account the latest information about electricity generation and BEV models. The two BEVs we modeled, midsize and full-size, are not specific to any particular manufacturer but are based on the two most popular BEV models sold in the United States today: the Nissan LEAF and the Tesla Model S. Our analysis reflects the BEVs available to American consumers and comparable gasoline vehicles.

Costa Rica Presents Interoceanic Canal Project

posted Aug 29, 2018, 12:57 PM by Frederick H. Schuchardt   [ updated Aug 29, 2018, 3:54 PM ]
Officials from various public agencies announced that they are evaluating a proposal to build an interoceanic shipping canal through the country’s northern zone to connect ports on the Caribbean and the Pacific coasts of Costa Rica.

The National Concessions Council (CNC) on Monday confirmed they have received the proposal for the $16 billion project from Canal Seco de Costa Rica (CANSEC), a private consortium.

The megaproject would link three ports: one on the Caribbean coast in Parismina, another in San Carlos, north of Alajuela province and another in Santa Elena, in La Cruz, Guanacaste.

Silvia Jiménez, technical director of the CNC, said at a press conference on Monday that ports would be connected by 315 kilometers (196 miles) of railways that can accomodate double-height containers.

The proposed project also includes the construction of a 10-lane road, 30 hydroelectric plants and two seaports.

Ambitious Project

CANSEC representative Lucia D’Ambrossio said at the presentation that the project is the opportunity the country needs to position itself globally. “It’s an integral solution. The canal would end the traffic jams. It will change the face of the provinces and make the country a global reference,” she said.

Public Works and Transport (MOPT) Minister Carlos Villalta said this would be the most ambitious and expensive project in the country’s history. Villalta said that the first phase of the project is already underway: analyzing the documents that make up the CANSEC proposal.

“The impact of this project would be similar to that of Panama Canal, as it would create about 80,000 jobs for the country,” Villalta said.

Initial estimates indicate that completion of the project would take five years. The feasibility studies of the project will be ready in a year, while the public bidding and the signing of the contract with the selected firm would take 18 months. Construction would take about three years, MOPT reported.

Minister Villalta also said that four investor groups have already shown interest in financing the project.

Five-junction photo-voltaic cell has 44.5% efficiency

posted Jul 12, 2017, 12:02 PM by Frederick H. Schuchardt

Five-junction photovoltaic cell has 44.5% efficiency


Senior Editor

Concentrator solar cell captures large portion of the solar spectrum.

(Image: George Washington University)

Scientists at George Washington University and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (both in Washington, DC), Sotera Defense Solutions (Annapolis Junction, MD), Semprius (Durham, NC), and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have designed and constructed a prototype for a new solar cell that has five semiconductor junctions -- three in a gallium arsenide (GaAs)-based section and two in a gallium antimonide (GaSb) section.1

The two overlapping types of photovoltaic cell each capture a different portion of the solar spectrum, allowing conversion of direct sunlight to electricity with 44.5% efficiency, giving it the potential to become the most efficient solar cell in the world. By comparison, the ubiquitous silicon solar cell converts only a quarter of the available energy into electricity.

The new device is a concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) cell that uses optics to concentrate sunlight onto a microscale solar cell at a concentration ratio of 744 suns. Because of their small size (less than one millimeter square), solar cells utilizing more-sophisticated materials can be developed cost-effectively.

"Around 99% of the power contained in direct sunlight reaching the surface of Earth falls between wavelengths of 250 nm and 2500 nm, but conventional materials for high-efficiency multijunction solar cells cannot capture this entire spectral range," says Matthew Lumb, lead author of the study and a research scientist at George Washington University. "Our new device is able to unlock the energy stored in the long-wavelength photons, which are lost in conventional solar cells, and therefore provides a pathway to realizing the ultimate multijunction solar cell."

The approach has two novel aspects. First, it uses a family of materials based on GaSb substrates, which are usually found in applications for infrared lasers and photodetectors. The novel GaSb-based solar cells are assembled into a stacked structure along with high-efficiency solar cells grown on conventional substrates that capture shorter-wavelength solar photons. In addition, the stacking procedure uses transfer-printing, which enables three-dimensional assembly of the devices with a high degree of precision.

This particular solar cell is very expensive; however, the researchers believe that it was important to show the upper limit of what is possible in terms of efficiency. Despite the current costs of the materials involved, the technique used to create the cells shows much promise. Eventually a similar product may be brought to market enabled by cost reductions arising from the use of very high solar concentration levels and technology to recycle the expensive growth substrates.

The research builds off of the advancements made by the MOSAIC Program, a $24 million research project funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) that funds 11 separate teams across the U.S., each seeking to develop technologies and concepts to revolutionize photovoltaic performance and reduce costs. The researchers note that funding for this type of research is essential for developing viable commercial technology in the future. 



1. Matthew P. Lumb et al.Advanced Energy Materials (2017); doi: 10.1002/aenm.201700345

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars Test Run

posted Apr 19, 2017, 9:01 AM by Frederick H. Schuchardt   [ updated Apr 19, 2017, 9:02 AM ]

Hydrogen fuel cell cars get a test run

Apr. 19, 2017 10:59 AM ET|By: , SA News Editor 

State officials in California are making a round trip from Sacramento to the Bay Area in hydrogen fuel cell EVs tomorrow to show support for the research and developments efforts for the burgeoning ZEV (zero emission vehicle) concept.

Hydrogen fueling stations in Hayward and San Jose will be used to power up the vehicles on the trip. The adventure can be followed on Twitter under the #H2Tour hashtag.

The caravan will include a Honda Clarity fuel cell model and a Toyota Mirai. Participating organizations include the California Air Resources Board, California Energy Commission, Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, and other members of the California Fuel Cell Partnership.

Looking ahead: Though hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, the lack of hydrogen-fueling infrastructure has held back progress for the EV alternative. Some companies, including Daimler (OTCPK:DDAIF) and Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), aren't plannng on using hydrogen fuel cells, while others like Honda (NYSE:HMC) and Hyundai (OTC:HYMLF) are pushing ahead with model development. BMW (OTCPK:BMWYY) and General Motors (NYSE:GM) are still in the lab with their hydrogen joint ventures. If hydrogen power is going to work for consumers it will be Toyota (NYSE:TM) that blazes the trail. The Japanese automaker plans to test the response to the Mirai hydrogen fuel cell sedan in China, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and Canada this year and next.

For investors, there's unlikely to be a short-term bet on hydrogen fuel cars. The bigger question is where the industry stands in 2020 or 2030? And who wins?

Elon Musk And Zhengrong Shi And Solar Rooftops

posted Mar 20, 2017, 10:46 AM by Frederick H. Schuchardt   [ updated Mar 20, 2017, 11:24 AM ]

Elon Musk And Zhengrong Shi To Fight It Out Over Solar Rooftops

Mar. 20, 2017 12:48 PM ET

 About: Tesla Motors (TSLA), Includes: BLSFY

Keith Williams 

Deep value, special situations, contrarian, growth


Tesla plans to release the Solar Roof product in July 2017.

Suntech founder Zhengrong Shi to launch new company “SunMan” to address new rooftop market with lightweight, easy to work with solar PV material.

Two entrepreneurs go head to head with different solutions in the rooftop area, while other players (e.g. Dow Chemical) give up.

Is now the time that incorporating solar power generation into building materials is ready to take off?

Is this a big deal or a distraction for Tesla?

Readers of Seeking Alpha have lots of opinions about what Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) is, where it is going and what it might become. More than a few (short) investors have their fortunes riding on a cataclysmic fall in the complex edifice that is Tesla today.

Everyone has an opinion, with analysts from UBS saying that it is time to get rid of distractions and focus on a successful launch of the Model 3, while Elon Musk spends energy on breathing life into Tesla's stationary energy storage business.

To be clear, Elon Musk is quite capable of walking and chewing gum, and the recent $1.15 billion capital raise has assuaged some worries about free air in the lead up to the Model 3 launch. It is starting to look like the launch of the Model 3 might be in reasonably good shape.

Is there room for yet another major initiative by Tesla this year? Whether there is room or not, the Solar City team within Tesla say it is time to get their Solar Roof project out to market, so that is happening, with a July launch scheduled.

The Solar Roof to transform one aspect of the solar PV market?

At a time when there is significant angst about a world oversupply of solar PV capacity, new ways of incorporating solar power into buildings, especially roofs, is beginning to become a reality. Tesla has a substantial development with its about-to-be-released Solar Roof, which while not new, is a survivor of technology innovation. Dow had a similar solar shingle program, Powerhouse Solar Systems 2.0, that it abandoned last year after trying to establish a market for several years.

There is a long history of failed attempts to commercialize this technology. Australian steel maker BlueScope Steel (OTCPK:BLSFY) is exploring a variant, BIPV-T (Building Integrated PhotoVoltaic-Thermal) technology, which integrates steel roof panels with thin-film PV panels and uses a sealed chamber between them for capturing thermal energy in addition to generating electricity.

So what is changing in the rooftop solar area? Time leads to better technology, but to get a new technology adopted needs more. Perhaps the crucial ingredient might be the drive of two substantial energy entrepreneurs competing with each other.

A significant player in the development of the solar industry, Zhengrong Shi, is returning to the fray with a new company and a competitive technology. He will be keen to prove that he is still a force to be reckoned with after the bankruptcy of Suntech Power, the company he founded. Both Elon Musk and Zhengrong Shi have track records of innovation and commercialization, so it is interesting to see them going head to head in the rooftop solar area.

SunMan's eArche


SunMan eArche: Source RenewEconomy

Dr. Zhengrong Shi was China's first solar billionaire, whose company Suntech Power went bankrupt in 2013. He is returning to the solar industry with a new company "SunMan" and new product, eArche, an ultralight, thin, flexible solar panel that is 80% lighter than conventional solar PV panels. Shi sees the product as ideal for incorporating into rooftops and building facades, especially where conventional panels are too heavy to be incorporated.

It can be cut and shaped as desired. The first market for the eArche product is new buildings and extensions. He is hoping that new government regulations will soon require solar panels to be incorporated into new buildings, providing a captive market for these kinds of products.

The Shanghai company will officially launch the eArche product in Sydney later this week. The initial focus is on building supply companies, especially those specializing in lightweight materials. He thinks the panels will be attractive to architects as they are lightweight and easy to work with. He contrasts the convenient features of the eArche product with Tesla's Solar Roof (see below), which he considers to be heavy and rigid. Tesla has acknowledged that there are significant engineering issues in building a roof as a seamless solar panel.

Not given to modesty, Dr. Shi claims the eArche to be the biggest innovation in the solar industry for more than a decade. Dr. Shi considers that there has been little product innovation but that most cost reductions have come from improved manufacturing, increased efficiency and supply chain management.

His recent focus has been on product innovation to get the panels lighter and less rigid. His new panels will have similar manufacturing costs but be cheaper to install. He claims 1MW of panels will fit in a 40ft container, with big savings on transport costs. There have been some materials challenges to match the silicon with his composite material to avoid cracking.

SunMan will initially focus on developing its market in Australia and Japan. There have been limited trials in installations in Sydney and Adelaide.

Tesla's Solar Roof program


Source : Tesla

Tesla's "Solar Roof" developments in the housing market, involves Panasonic and the Gigafactory.

This development involves roofing that look like normal roof shingles except that they are more durable. If Tesla is successful this could herald the end of rooftop solar panels as we know them. The release is due July 17, although that may be a moving target as this is yet another major Tesla event in a very busy diary. What will it cost? It seems that the cost will be equivalent to a conventional roof cost plus the cost of electricity saved by production from the roof.

There are no actual numbers yet, and of course, the costs of roofing vary significantly, so it is anyone's guess at the moment. The tiles are a high-end roofing solution. Elon Musk showed Tuscan Glass Tiles, Slate Glass Tiles, Textured Glass Tiles and Smooth Glass Tiles at a recent launch. The Solar Roof needs a Tesla Powerwall 2 battery system to capture the energy generated.

The market is interesting with 5 million new roofs in the just the US every year.

It is certain that, if successful, the Tesla Solar Roof will have an impact on the Tesla bottom line. How big an impact is anyone's guess at this stage. And the chance of success is also anyone's guess.

Tesla seems to be seeking to get its product to market through the conventional roofing industry, while SunMan is focused on lightweight building materials companies and architects to help drive its market penetration with attractive material that is versatile.


The upcoming launch of the Tesla "Solar Roof" (for houses and other buildings) is interesting because it comes not long after Dow Chemical (and many others) gave up, and at much the same time as a solar industry pioneer (Zhengrong Shi) launches his new ultralight version of a solar roof.

With two aggressive entrepreneurs converging on the rooftop solar space, this could get interesting. It may be the kind of attention needed to open the market up at a time when Governments are looking for ways to reduce carbon emissions and stimulate renewable energy production.

For Dr. Shi, his new SunMan company is his chance to get back in the game and it will have all of his attention. On the other hand, Tesla's Solar Roof program is going to be competing for air with a lot of action in the company in 2017. Like so much about Tesla at the moment, how much the Solar Roof program is going to contribute to Tesla's bottom line is impossible to determine, but for the optimists, it provides more reason not to be contemptuous about Tesla's current share price.

I am not a financial advisor. I am interested in transforming technologies in the energy and transport space and seek to provide insights into developments that are at the commercialization stage. If my commentary helps sharpen your investment focus, please consider following me.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Editor's Note: This article discusses one or more securities that do not trade on a major U.S. exchange. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.


The all-electric Chevy Bolt

posted Mar 19, 2017, 6:28 PM by Frederick H. Schuchardt   [ updated Mar 19, 2017, 6:49 PM ]

We just drove the all-electric Chevy Bolt — and Tesla is officially in trouble

Matthew DeBord

Business Insider March 19, 2017

The Chevy Bolt.Hollis Johnson) 
NBA superstar Charles Barkley made a now-legendary comment prior to the US Olympic basketball Dream Team playing Angola in 1992. 

"I don't know anything about Angola, but I know they're in trouble," Barkley quipped. The US went on to win by 116-48.

Tesla isn't the automotive equivalent of Angola, but at times I get the sense that General Motors considers itself the Dream Team: the car company that symbolizes US manufacturing might.

Both Tesla and GM have been to hell and back since the financial crisis. Tesla nearly went bankrupt in 2008, but was saved by a last-minute funding round on Christmas Eve. And GM did go bankrupt in 2009, after being bailed out by the federal government.

Fast-forward to 2016, however, and Tesla has a market cap of $40 billion and GM has been raking in cash for two solid years amid an SUV sales boom in the US.

While both companies have bounced back, there's no question that GM is better positioned financially to compete in the mass market EV space. 

Staggering cash burn

Tesla is burning through impressive amounts of cash as it gears up to launch its Model 3, the company's first mass-market vehicle, later this year. Last week, the company announced a new capital raise, to get another billion in the bank as it commits to spending $2 billion or more in 2017.

GM also spends plenty of money, but according to Dan Ammann, the automaker's President, it's bringing in a billion a month. What's more, the company's recent sale of its European Opel division, for about $2 billion, means it can also reduce its balance-sheet cash cushion to $18 billion from $20 billion.

Being basically cash-flush means that GM can take some huge risks. And that's what it did when it committed to bringing its own mass-market electric car to market a full year ahead of Tesla's $35,000 Model 3.

Tesla Model 3


(The Tesla Model 3.AP Photo/Justin Pritchard) 

As with most major automakers, GM has been content to let Tesla get all the headlines while taking all the risk. Electric vehicle sales have been abysmally disappointing, making up only about 1% of the annual global market; five years ago, there were predictions that we'd be headed toward 15% to 20% by now. 

Tesla's own sales have steadily increased, proving that there's solid demand for at least for Tesla electric cars, but it's still delivering fewer cars in the year than a big carmaker does in a month. CEO Elon Musk has charted an ambitious trajectory to sell 500,000 vehicles annually in 2018 and a million by 2020. But the company is very far from achieving those goals.

With the Chevy Bolt EV — priced just under $30,000 once tax credits are applied, with 200-plus miles of range on a single battery charge — GM has decisively stepped off the EV sidelines. From debut to production, which commenced last October, GM took about a year and a half to steal some of the Model 3's thunder.

Tesla still has the sexy

In early 2016, I attended the reveal of the Model 3 in Los Angeles, and the prototype vehicles that we saw there were compelling: sexy, fast, and high-tech. Last week, we got our first crack at a few days with the Bolt, and while I'd be hard-pressed to call the boxy four-door hatchback sexy, it is fast, and it is high-tech.



Porsche to Invest €1 Billion in Mission E Electric Model

posted Dec 4, 2015, 12:24 PM by Frederick H. Schuchardt   [ updated Dec 4, 2015, 12:24 PM ]

FRANKFURT, December 4, 2015 — Porsche AG on Friday said that it would invest about 1 billion euros ($1.07 billion) and create more than 1,000 jobs in preparation for the production of its Mission E electric model.

The bulk of the planned investment will go to Porsche’s main Zuffenhausen plant, in the northern suburbs of Stuttgart. Porsche said it would invest €700 million in Zuffenhausen, where it plans a new paint shop and assembly plant and to expand existing facilities.

Porsche’s Mission E project threatens Tesla Motors Inc., which has established itself as the lead maker of high-end electric sports cars. Tesla’s pricey Model S sedan has been lauded for its credibility as a street performance vehicle, and executives at Porsche and other German auto makers are eager to rival it.

Porsche also said Friday that Albrecht Reimold would join its management board with responsibility for production, effective Feb. 1. He replaces Oliver Blume, who recently became chief executive at the sports car maker.

Mr. Reimold, 54, will transfer to Germany from his current position at a Volkswagen plant in Slovakia which also produces the body for Porsche’s Cayenne, the company said.

Since September, the Volkswagen group has made a number of management changes in the wake of an emissions scandal that has touched Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche and other subsidiaries.

“I know Albrecht Reimold as a knowledgeable team player,” Mr. Blume said in a statement. “He knows that achieving the best quality in production facilities depends on people.”

The Mission E concept car was introduced at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September.

Team of Appraisers Across Six States Find Home Buyers Will Pay Premium for Solar Homes

posted Dec 3, 2015, 4:02 PM by Frederick H. Schuchardt   [ updated Dec 3, 2015, 4:13 PM ]

Photovoltaics added value to homes in six markets, according to a new report titled “Appraising into the Sun: Six-State Solar Home Paired-Sales Analysis,” led by a researcher from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and a home appraisal expert. Researchers engaged a team of seven appraisers from across the six states to determine the value that solar photovoltaic (PV) systems added to single-family homes using the industry-standard paired-sales valuation technique, which compares recent sales of comparable homes to estimate the premium buyers would pay for PV.

PIMs May Be the Cup of Choice for Lithium-Sulfur Batteries

posted Dec 3, 2015, 3:50 PM by Frederick H. Schuchardt   [ updated Dec 3, 2015, 4:02 PM ]

Renewable sources of energy including solar and wind are fast gaining ground on fossil fuels, in part because of their sustainability and environmental benefits. A major issue, however, has been finding efficient ways to store the energy that renewables generate for use when the demand for energy is high. Lithium-sulfur batteries, which store electrical energy by transferring electrons to or from a sulfur electrode are well poised to provide high-density, long-term and low-cost electrochemical energy storage. The potential of lithium-sulfur batteries, has yet to be fully realized, however, due to the uncontrolled migration of soluble sulfur species through the membrane that separates the electrodes. This crossover of polysulfides reduces battery efficiency and lifetime.

Berkeley Lab researchers have found a solution to the polysulfide crossover problem with the development of a membrane made from polymers of intrinsic microporosity (PIMs). PIMs feature pore sizes of less than one nanometer in diameter, compared to the 17 nanometer pore size of typical membrane separators. This substantially smaller pore size provides highly selective control over the ions transported through the membrane. Smaller ions, like lithium and sodium are allowed to pass through the membrane while larger polysulfides are blocked. When integrated into lithium-sulfur cells, PIM membranes proved 500 times more effective at blocking the unwanted crossover of polysulfide ions than conventional membranes.

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