A Battery to Challenge Lithium-Ion

❝ Elon Musk isn’t the only visionary betting that the world will soon be reliant on batteries. Bill Joy, the Silicon Valley guru and Sun Microsystems co-founder, also envisions such dependence. He just thinks alkaline is a smarter way to go than lithium-ion.

❝ Joy and Ionic Materials unveiled a solid-state alkaline battery at the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Energy Innovation Summit in Basalt, Colorado, that he says is safer and cheaper than the industry leader, lithium-ion. The appeal of alkaline: it could cost a tiny fraction of existing battery technologies and could be safer in delicate settings, such as aboard airplanes.

“What people didn’t really realize is that alkaline batteries could be made rechargable,” Joy said in a phone interview Thursday. “I think people had given up.”

The Ionic Materials investor envisions three ultimate applications for the polymer technology: consumer electronics, automotive and the power grid. But Joy acknowledged that the technology isn’t quite ready for prime-time. It has yet to be commercialized, and factories are needed to manufacture it. It could be ready for wider use within five years, he said.

❝ Ionic expects to talk to potential partners about licenses. Global lithium-ion battery demand from electric vehicles is projected to grow from 21 gigawatt-hours in 2016 to 1,300 gigawatt-hours in 2030, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

“Even if we grew 400 percent every year for a decade, we couldn’t meet the need” alone, Joy said. “We’re starting from a zero base. We don’t have a factory. We have a revolutionary material.”

Lithium is expensive and scarce in the qualities useful for current lithium-ion battery technology. Alkaline batteries will not face the same kind of challenges – once production is at commercial scale. And believe me – please – regardless of what creeps like Trump or Tillerson or any other fossil fuel pimps might say, the demand coming down the pike in the next 10-20 years for battery tech will have no problem getting investors.

Stompin’ visitor

We’re still the kind of extended family that – when your brother-in-law in Missouri gets a shiny new pickup truck, he and his son hop in and take it for a little break-in ride to New Mexico.

The new Cummins turbo-V8 diesel is smooth as silk and still a stump-puller.

Amphibious robot with undulating propulsion


Click to website with video demo

The US Office of Naval Research…is funding an amphibious optionally autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) or remotely operated vehicle (ROV) prototype for use in littoral, surf and tide-zones, high-vegetation, debris-filled, or icy environments. The prototype was showcased and demonstrated at the Naval Future Force Science and Technology Exposition in Washington, DC, in July…

Pliant Energy Systems’ agile swimmer robot uses multi-stable non-linear systems to produce repetitive undulating motion for propulsion. Instead of propellers, the planar hyperbolic geometry and flexible electroactive-polymer undulating fins are able to propel the system underwater, on sandy beaches, over sea- or land-based vegetation, slippery or wet rocks, and over or under ice floes and ice shelves. It is powered by a lithium-ion battery.

Can’t wait to see what this critter might do untethered.

Future economics: This is how Big Oil will die

❝ It’s 2025, and 800,000 tons of used high strength steel is coming up for auction.

❝ The steel made up the Keystone XL pipeline, finally completed in 2019, two years after the project launched with great fanfare after approval by the Trump administration. The pipeline was built at a cost of about $7 billion, bringing oil from the Canadian tar sands to the US, with a pit stop in the town of Baker, Montana, to pick up US crude from the Bakken formation. At its peak, it carried over 500,000 barrels a day for processing at refineries in Texas and Louisiana.

But in 2025, no one wants the oil.

Thanks, @Smartalix

NASA Data Visualization Lets You Visit the Red Planet


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❝ Have you ever wished you could go to Mars without taking on the long-term commitment and risks associated with spaceflight? Now you can explore the surface of Mars without leaving the comfort of planet Earth, thanks to troves of imagery from NASA spacecraft and a cool data-visualization software called OpenSpace.

With OpenSpace, you can fly over Martian mountaintops and swoop through the deep canyons of Valles Marineris with the highest-resolution views from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), creating sort of a Google Earth for Mars. And that’s just the beginning; the makers of OpenSpace said they aim to ultimately map the entire known universe with dynamic and interactive visualizations created from real scientific data.

❝ Using data and images from the Context Camera (CTX) on MRO and the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity, researchers have already mapped 90 percent of the Red Planet’s surface down to a resolution of about 20 feet (6 meters) per pixel. Incorporating high-resolution images from the spacecraft’s HiRISE camera (High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment), OpenSpace has allowed researchers to image parts of Mars down to a resolution of about 25 centimeters (10 inches) per pixel. That’s 24 times sharper than before.

Way cool. As close as I’m ever gonna get!

There is a Long History of Self-Defense on the Left

❝ The Trump era has, so far, been a violent one. Since Donald Trump announced his presidential campaign in the summer of 2015, assaults of pro-Trump and anti-Trump protesters, as well as journalists covering the 2016 campaign, have made headlines. Meanwhile, Federal Bureau of Investigation data has found that hate crimes against Muslims increased by 67 percent in 2015, while the Council on American-Islamic Relations reports that those same crimes increased by 44 percent in 2016. In response, leftist activists and minority groups have turned to a form of activism that some might not typically expect from liberals: to counter and prevent violence, they are heading to the gym to learn self-defense.

The list of these new self-defense initiatives is long…the company Trigger Happy Firearms Instruction holds firearms lessons for women in several cities across the United States with the ultimate aim of teaching a million to shoot. And in April, the Chicago-based group Haymaker Collective formed—and is currently raising funds—to open a sliding-scale fee gym where anyone (except politicians and police officers, who the collective does not trust to keep them safe) can take self-defense classes and work out regardless of income, gender, sexuality, race, ability, or religion. Their end goal is to help people “learn the skills they need to stay safe in Trump’s America,” …

❝ In American culture, self-defense is usually associated with conservative policies that aim to preserve (and/or broadly interpret) the Fourth Amendment and national security. Consider Stand Your Ground laws, which allow residents of some states to use lethal force in self-defense against intruders without first attempting to flee; or the language of protection that Trump and members of his administration have used to promote the administration’s travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries. Nevertheless, leftists have long prepared for violent, politically divided times too — albeit with a very different approach. While conservatives have often organized measures that ostensibly help keep everyone safe but ultimately serve to preserve a status quo, leftists have historically practiced and taught self-defense techniques to empower marginalized communities.

Interested read, worthwhile for folks who haven’t grown up around guns or hunting or – for that matter – armed self-defense. Various times, I’ve been around all three, individually or collectively. Growing up in the “Arsenal of America” mine was the first generation in my family that didn’t spend time working for one or another firearms manufacturer in Connecticut.

Still armed. Still a good shot.

Is your vacuum cleaner spying on you? + RESPONSE from iRobot…

The following is from an open letter to iRobot CEO Colin Angle. His company makes the very popular Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner. On Monday, ZDNet’s Jake Smith wrote about iRobot’s intention to sell mapping data from customers’ homes to other companies.

❝ Dear Colin,

One of the ways Webster defines “dear” is “highly valued” or “precious.” So, when I start a letter with “Dear Colin,”…I’m just using a commonly accepted way of starting a letter.

This is relevant to our discussion because you’ve recently talked about taking from your customers information that is dear to them, even though you’ve never met most of the people who enjoy the benefits of your products. When your customers buy your products, there are some common expectations.

❝ It looks like you may be thinking about or trying to violate those expectations. By extension, it’s looking like you might be violating the trust given to you by your customers. Even worse, you could be opening the door to security risks that are far worse than they would be worth, just so you can make a few extra bucks on the side.

In a recent Reuters interview, you talked about the value of mapping data, both for doing the job of cleaning a room, and for understanding the environment where internet-connected things need to interoperate. So far, I’m with you…

That data could be used to help maximize lighting, tune sound, optimize microphones, determine when people or pets are in a space, and help conserve energy. All that is good…

❝ But here’s the thing that has the whole internet a-flutter. Apparently, you’re trying to sell that mapping data. I understand that…but once you get into the mode of selling data, the potential for abuse rears its oh-so-ugly head.

You’re no longer mapping our homes to make sure you don’t tear out a power cord or fall down a flight of stairs. You’re moving into the realm of spying on your customers. In your case, though, it’s far worse than those stories of possible always-on webcams or TV sets…

See, none of those other devices can move around the house on their own power. If my TV is in the living room, I know it’s there. If I’m concerned about my privacy, I’m probably not going to parade my naked butt in front of it. But a Roomba can decide to wake itself up. It can wander around the house. It can measure, map, and with your onboard camera, even take pictures.

What could go wrong?

The CEO of iRobot has been further interviewed by ZDNet. He denies that the firm will sell customer data. Pls read it. Judge for yourself.

The Electric Vehicle Takeover


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❝ Do you want the big thing or the new thing?…More importantly: Do you want to invest in the big thing or the new thing?

It’s a question that haunts any industry vulnerable to disruption, which is pretty much all of them these days.

❝ Take the automotive business. Bloomberg New Energy Finance just released its latest long-term outlook for electric vehicles. It posits, startlingly, that sales of all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles will overtake those using internal combustion engines within roughly two decades…

The late 2030s may sound like a long way away. But they aren’t when put in the context of an automotive industry that’s only been around for a century or so.

❝ Looked at differently, BNEF’s projection suggests electric vehicles account for all the growth in global vehicle sales within a decade from now…

Based on BNEF’s projections, global sales of vehicles will rise by 1.67 million in the year 2026. But sales of electric vehicles are forecast to rise by 2.06 million, while the number of vehicles using internal combustion engines will fall slightly, by around 400,000. To be clear, absolute sales of electric vehicles in that year are expected to be just over 10 million, versus almost 87 million for their traditional counterparts…

❝ And while it is tough for incumbents to pivot to a new business, it is not impossible…it was critical for Facebook that, even as it was launching its IPO in 2012, it was also overhauling its business to focus on smartphones rather than its desktop PC product — despite the latter accounting for 89 percent of the company’s advertising revenue that year…

Facebook’s desktop product dominated its advertising revenue in 2012 — but all the growth potential was in smartphones.

More examples dot the financial map. VW planning on investing $10 billion into electric vehicle manufacture – mostly in the United States for global distribution. The Brits announced, today, legislation to end registration of diesel or gasoline-powered motor vehicles in the UK by 2040.

Those drops of water appearing under your front door look like the beginning of a flood to me.