I do not promote any commercial venture on this blog-site, and I am definitely not receiving any sort of recompense for the following post.
In the past, as I have encountered odd or interesting words, I have added them to a Word file as prompts for the A To Z Challenge. Somewhere, sometime, I found and added the word
By this spring, it had oozed its way to the front of the line. If I ever knew what it meant, I have long since forgotten – like breakfast. My favorite dictionary program just shrugged its tiny electronic shoulders, so I threw it against the wall over at Bing.
It is not a word, as such. It is the name of a company in Massachusetts. Alsym™ Energy, a developer of next-generation rechargeable batteries, recently announced that it is emerging from stealth to offer energy storage solutions for electric vehicles (EVs), stationary storage, and marine applications. Alsym’s battery technology promises to provide the performance of lithium-ion batteries at a fraction of the cost and without the inherent risk of fire. The company’s batteries are also less sensitive to raw material shortages and price volatility due to their use of low-cost materials with robust supply chains. Alsym’s inherently non-flammable batteries, made from readily available materials without lithium or cobalt, will be produced for EVs, stationary storage, and marine applications.
I think that this is a great idea, and I hope that other companies are following suit. It will get us out from under the thumb of, and free of the threat of financial or political extortion by China, where the largest deposits of the Rare Earths like Lithium and Cobalt are found and mined.
In today’s Electronic Age, they are essential for batteries and chips. We used to say “Computer Chips,” but they are now in EVERYTHING, cars, planes, cell phones, right down to electric toothbrushes. If China ever cuts us off, three-quarters of Americans will get cavities.
I hope that Alsym can improve the quality of EV batteries. Right now, only a few nerds and hipsters want electric cars. (All too) Soon, the rest of us will have them thrust upon us, whether we want them or not – or whether or not they WORK!
The total, potential power of a battery is greatly affected by the temperature of its surroundings. Where I sit – here at just about 45 degrees North latitude in Southern Ontario, a mere halfway from the equator to the North Pole – almost all of Canada, and a good chunk of the United States is north of me. Spring, summer and autumn are one thing, but in the winter, it gets COLD!
In Minnesota, North Dakota, Manitoba, and Alberta, when outside temps get down to minus 20, minus 30, MINUS 40!!, a Tesla battery expends much of its power just keeping warm. The remaining driving range is not much greater than a long extension cord. And this doesn’t begin to take into account, places like Canada’s Northwest Territories, or Alaska. To get anywhere after a cold night (or day) you’d have to park your EV over a coffee mug warmer, or a lap heating pad.
Interestingly enough, in Northern Ontario, around Hudson’s Bay, it is no longer volcanic, but is called The Ring Of Fire. Diamonds have been discovered – nothing to compete with South Africa – jewellers are not impressed, but commercial diamond users are getting truckloads.
Recently, Lithium and Cobalt, and some other rare earths have been discovered. The Premier of Ontario grandiloquently declared that, if he had to get on a bulldozer himself, he would drive a road through the ice and muskeg to convey workers and supplies to mine the ores.
It is ironic that diesel and gasoline-powered vehicles will be needed to transport minerals to build electric vehicles. It gets so cold that truckers fill hub-caps with diesel fuel, place them beneath engine blocks and set them on fire to warm the congealed oil enough to be able to start their vehicles.