Revolutionary breakthroughs will make possible the elimination of the need for batteries of every variety. These generators are expected to replace the need to plug-in a plug-in hybrid. Two kW is all the power that can be taken from a typical wall socket. A 2 kW generator is on the horizon. It will eventually demonstrate a compact, inexpensive, capability to end the need to plug-in.
If the development of these generators is put on a 24/7 footing, it may be possible to provide 100 kW systems that will fit in the space of an engine and gas tank, on a prototype basis within two years. If that occurs, since no fuel or battery recharge is required, automobile manufacturers may conclude that engines are likely to become obsolete. Consumer purchasing patterns could begin to reflect a new reality, with the market deciding most future cars must be totally electric, since they will never need any variety of fuel.
The economics are likely to prove compelling. Until now, car ownership has been an expense. V2G has been explored in a modest way for hybrids. Plug-in hybrids, equipped with a two way plug, can feed power to the local utility while parked. This is 95% of the time for the average vehicle. Professor Willet Kempton, at the University of Delaware, has stated the car’s owner could earn up to $4,000 every year.
MagGen™ powered cars are expected to be capable of generating at least 75 kW and perhaps 100 kW in the volume of a typical fuel tank. In the case of luxury cars, trucks and buses, it seems 150 kW will prove practical. Technology already exists that can wirelessly couple up to 150 kW to the grid from parked vehicles. No plug connection will be required.
Today a large plug installed in a hybrid car can allow 240 volts to be accommodated. A 240 volt connection cord can probably provide a maximum of 19 kW to the utility. If that 19 kW can annually pay the vehicle owner $4,000, imagine what the income might be with a wirelessly coupled 75 kW or larger MagGen. If the price per kW is the same as that used in the University of Delaware analysis, we could be anticipating payments totaling $15,000, or more, per year.
When a substantial number of vehicles powered by magnetic generators fill a parking garage, it will have become a multi-megawatt power plant.
The Wall Street Journal has finally reported on the real driver of change around the electrification of the world's auto fleet: Manufacturing.
Reframing the Problem
Our insights into the crossroads of energy and the future of the auto industry have reflected a very unique tone when compared to all major media outlets and bloggers.
We have been alone in pushing a few disruptive ideas about the future of energy and the auto industry:
Kill the Combustion Engine
While others focused on the problem of oil, we said it was the manufacturing legacy of the combustion engine. We have argued that it's how you build the car, not fuel it that matters most.
Skateboard chassis is Platform of the Future
Most startup energy companies don't expect major media attention when they announce their second commercial deal.
Unless of course, your technology is reported to generate energy beyond the scientific paradigms of combustion and nuclear reactions.
This is why Blacklight Power has little trouble attracting press and controversy from paradigm bound scientists.
Earlier this Fall we reported on the indepdent verification of the company's novel method of capturing energy released when powder containing hydrogen atoms reacts with a catalyst to drop its energy state into hydrinos. Then in December Blacklight announced its first commercial agreement.
Now the company has Customer No. 2: Farmers' Electric Cooperative, Inc. of New Mexico for a 250 MW power system which could in theory power 250,000 homes.
Related Blacklight posts on The Energy Roadmap.com
Is Asia's expanding middle class closer to reaching a tipping point where modern notions of 'environmentalism' become a key component to improving quality of life factors? Maybe!
The Korean government is pushing forward on a massive 'Green' New Deal style investment package could create more than 900,000 jobs.
The $38 billion investment plan includes: waste to energy power plants, support for 'Green Homes', transportation infrastructure for rail and bicycles, cleaning up polluted river systems, and investments in energy storage technologies used for electric vehicles.
Real story = Values Shift up Maslow's Hierarchy
The long view implications of this story go far beyond any actual investments that may or may not turn Korea's attention towards 'cleantech' industries. These projects might already have been planned long before the recent global economic slowdown. And $38 billion is not a lot of money for a 'New Deal'.
The real story is the media spin on 'green' and underlying values statement that shows widespread support within Korea for cleantech and eco-friendly ventures. The ripple effect of modern notions of environmentalism (able to address impacts of large scale industrialism, not traditional forms of agricultural living) could begin to challenge the notion of 'growth at any cost' that dominates economic policies around the world in all nations, but especially in emerging economies.
Values are very important when it comes to 'cleantech' policies, and there is no evidence that 'environmentalism' as it is viewed in American and European life is a current global phenomenon. There are still several billion people in the world who see 'quality of life' factors as related to jobs, education, home ownership and upward mobility, not planetary health.
What is driving this value's shift? Economic Growth, not Traditionalism
A new Ceres report on company supply chain and operation efficiencies that support climate change strategies, has named IBM the #1 company for its internal practices and green innovation strategies. The RiskMetrics Group authored report analyzes climate change governance practices at 63 of the world's largest retail, pharmaceutical, technology, apparel and other consumer-facing companies.
Using a 100-point scale, the three highest scoring companies were IBM, UK-based grocery retailer Tesco and Dell, with 79, 78 and 77 points, respectively. More than half of the 63 companies scored under 50 points, with a median score of 38 points.
Beyond 'green' recognition, what does IBM see in a a Smart Planet?
The big story is not the 'green' award recognition for IBM, Tesco and Dell - it's the brand association IBM is trying to build between its core practice as a hardware-software service provider and the transformation of global industries that deal with infrastructure and the transmission of information, goods, energy and water.
Consumers can change light builts, but companies like IBM and Johnson Controls can transform industry level supply chains, built environments, and national infrastructure systems. This is where we are likely to find the greatest ROI.
IBM (and others) sees an opportunity to improve industrial scale efficiencies in a near term future shaped by software, sensors and micro controllers. The vision? A Smart Planet.
For IBM the world is quickly becoming, instrumented, interconnected and intelligent. This is the driving force behind 'Big Blue' trying to enable a 'Big Green'world. Sensors and Software can lead to a greener world.
Let the battle over 'Clean Coal' begin.
Call it 'clean coal' or 'cleaner coal' -- the idea is still the same. Stop carbon from binding with oxygen (CO2) and floating up into the atmosphere.
How do you do it?
1) Think like an engineer
Sequester the carbon by pumping it underground
2) Design new plants
Capture energy via 'gasification' (instead of combustion)
3) Think like a biologist
Retrofit coal plants with bioreactors that pull emissions into tanks of carbon-fixing algae and bacteria that bind carbon with hydrogen to form useful forms of energy (hydrocarbon chains biofuels)
Of the three carbon strategies, bioenergy (algae/bacteria) has the most potential as a 'game-changing' solution. But it is also the hardest to talk about since systems are not tested commercially.
The Battle Ahead
We should not kid ourselves about the dynamics of this coal conversation. It is likely to get ugly as industry and activists try to demonize each other and paint their own version of 'reality'. There are no simple, short term quick fixes. What could happen depends on how the fight evolves around the focus of:
- emotions vs science
- coal energy inside the United States vs China
- present day challenges or exploring and enabling future solutions
- engineeing solutions, or biosolutions
- compromise, regulatory frameworks, or lawsuits
The Players- Industry, Activitists, and Entrepreneurs
The Economist reports that a Humvee-mounted laser is already being used in Iraq to detonate roadside bombs which have plagued the military over the years. And yes, it’s named after the Greek God of lightening.
The Zeus laser (I am inclined to say cannon for all you Final Fantasy fans out there) possesses a range of 300 meters (just shy of 1,000 feet) and has been successfully used in Iraq. Although they only possess one Humvee equipped with the laser, plans are in effect to make more.
Why is the military laser-crazy?
Lasers are the dream weapon for the military. You can fire them from incredible distances with pinpoint accuracy and have the potential to be a game-changer in any battle. Advanced lasers could be used to detonate RPGs or missiles before they get to the target, they can punch through walls, and could potentially blow up ICBMs before they get too far off the ground (Reagan’s infamous Star Wars plan). There’s no ammunition concerns, just power, and despite being totally un-serviceable in the field, the lack of moving parts makes the possibility of breaking very slim.
The Pentagon is being very hush-hush about it, but a secret weapon we posses in the US military is a solid rocket-fuel incendiary fireball. Meant to take out chemical weapons labs or underground bunkers, these fireballs burn up anything located inside the structure without blowing it up. “These are hollow spheres, made of rubberized rocket fuel; when ignited, they propel themselves around at random at high speed, bouncing off the walls and breaking through doors, turning the entire building into an inferno.” If there’s one thing that could ruin a persons day, it’s a bunch of solid rocket-fuel fireballs bouncing around in a small area.
Due to the secretive nature of the new weapon, not much is being said, but Wired, who initially reported the story, says that it’s quite possible the fireballs (named “CrashPAD” and “Shredder”) have been put into some sort of low-rate production. One wonders if this was the secret military weapon Bob Woodward was talking about a few months ago.
Does this have a future in the US Military?
Visa Europe is working hard for your money, and in doing so they have come up with a credit card capable of switching around your security code everytime you enter your PIN on its touchpad. “An alpha-numeric display and keypad is built directly into the card. When making a transaction online, customers type their PIN into the card, which creates a one-time security code.” Visa is working with four major banks, including Bank of America in the UK, to develop this card. Videos of how it works can be found here and here.
This is quite amazing. Having a touchpad on your credit card ensures that the code on the back of your card (that little number, usually three digits, on the back) could never be compromised without a thief knowing your PIN number. I wonder though if the numbers you press would look worn, making it easy for the thief to determine what you PIN is.
Although it’s kind of unnerving to think that your credit card has a battery life, the fact that it can run for three years could help boost confidence. You could possibly even charge it at your local bank every year on a simple flat tray. Of course, someone hacking into it within a few days is possible but by then hopefully you’d have canceled it. All we need now is a credit card that can take your fingerprint.
Check out more at ITPRO
Could coal emerge as the biggest energy story of 2009? We think so!
Coal is likely to become President elect Barack Obama’s first great energy policy challenge- as evidenced by the coal industry’s ‘Congratulations’ ad on CNN.com
Big Story for 2009: Problems with ‘Big Grid’
As prices at the pump drop in response to the global economic slowdown, we can (sadly) anticipate less media and public attention to the long term challenges of oil. Fortunately we have a problem of equal magnitude- an aging, some say failing, electric utility grid run by large enterprises who are already rethinking their changing role in the next century.
There is a short list of big issues for ‘Big Grid’ – building a 21st Century ‘Smart Grid’ around software and storage, integrating utility scale renewables (solar, wind, biomass waste), addressing regulatory challenges of carbon emissions, and working with private sector entrepreneurs who are advancing technologies that could disrupt long-held pricing structures and operating principles of our antiquated grid.
Today, we cannot talk about the future of utility grid energy or global energy and climate issues without confronting the challenges of coal. ‘Clean Coal’ refers to various methods of capturing energy from coal while reducing the amount of pollutants. Critics argue that coal can never been ‘clean’, while supporters of ‘cleaner’ coal argue that we must develop cost effective strategies that can reduce the impact of coal being burned in the US, China and around the world.
3 ways to talk about clean coal
French scientists unveiled the world’s first fully functional artificial heart at the cost of about $192,000 a unit. The heart, which gets some of its design from modern aerospace research, consists of two pumps which help regulate flow.
The reason this is called the first fully functional artificial heart is that, unlike other hearts currently made, it comes equipped with sensors which can increase or decrease blood flow depending on the persons level of activity. “The same tiny sensors that measure air pressure and altitude in an airplane or satellite are also in the artificial heart. This should allow the device to respond immediately if the patient needs more or less blood.”(CNN) Current models require an outside regulator to adjust blood flow to the body (and only consist of one pump).
The US Military is currently trying to obtain bat-sized drones capable of finding enemy combatants in rough terrain like tight streets or valleys. “Aurora Flight Sciences plans to demonstrate a vision-based guidance system that combines optical and sonar sensors and allows a micro air vehicle (MAV) to navigate through a cluttered urban environment.” Their goal over the next few years is to make it small enough (able to be stored in a 6 inch tube) so that soldiers can carry them around with them, able to deploy them whenever needed at the drop of a hat.
If you’re one of the two people who didn’t manage to see Dark Knight this year, you’re going to have a hard time conceptualizing what the display might look like. (Since we can’t display Dark Knight video without getting sued, here’s the next best thing I could find, go to the 1:00 minute mark)
As with all military technology, you wonder if there will be local uses for such a technology. Being able to tell exactly where in the room a hostage-taker is, searching for lost hikers in the wilderness, even finding the exact trajectory of baseballs for later analysis and perfected training.