Category Archives: Environment

EV Battery technology

With The 745-mile Solid-state Battery, Toyota Just Became A Force To Reckon With

Story by James O’Neil • Jul 22

With The 745-mile Solid-state Battery, Toyota Just Became A Force To Reckon With© Provided by TopSpeed

  • Toyota has been secretly developing a solid-state battery for EVs with a range of 745 miles and a charge time of 10 minutes, which could revolutionize the industry.
  • The battery will provide EVs with the same driving range as traditional vehicles, eliminating the need for frequent charging stops during long trips.
  • While Toyota has been a proponent of hydrogen cars, this breakthrough in EV batteries suggests a shift in the company’s approach to the post-ICE future.

Perhaps we’ve gotten too accustomed to the tech-bro approach to corporate PR, in which companies loudly trumpet every half-baked idea that may or may not fizzle into anticlimactic failure. Today, a company waiting until a concept is totally finished and ready for deployment seems almost quaint. While Toyota has hitherto seemed staunchly opposed to EVs, its research and development department has been developing what may be the biggest breakthrough in EV batteries away from the prying eyes of publicists: a solid-state car battery with a range of 745 miles and a charge time of ten minutes. (For those who prefer metric, that’s a range of 1200 kilometers and a charge time of six hectoseconds.)

For the first time in the history of mass-production EVs, a battery-powered car will have the same driving range as one with an engine and a gas tank. Anyone listening carefully will hear EV-driving dads breathe a sigh of relief as they contemplate how they won’t need to pull over and pry their children away from convenience store candy shelves every two hours while they wait for the car to charge. The great family road trip hasn’t gotten any more bearable in the post-engine era, but may get a bit more cheapskate-friendly.

What Is A Solid-State Battery?

solid-state battery is quite simple to explain. It stores its electrical charge in a solid electrolyte (other types of batteries use a liquid or paste-like one). They’re commonly used in small devices like pacemakers, RFIDs, and other things that demand little electricity. Because they have a very high energy density compared to other battery types (that is, they can store more electricity than other batteries of the same size), solid-state batteries seem like a natural fit for electric cars. But they don’t do well in cold weather, tend to weaken quickly after repeatedly getting charged and drained, are particularly costly, and have other issues that prevent them from going into every laptop, smartphone, and car.

The rise of EVs has made battery research a lot more profitable than it was a mere ten years ago, and scientists have been working on overcoming the shortcomings of solid-state batteries. Toyota is the first company that has come out and said it may have solved the range and battery weight problems.

If this becomes a production reality it solves many issues including range, recharge time, battery weight & eliminates lithium.

Digging 10 miles underground could yield enough geothermal energy to power Earth

Digging 10 miles underground could yield enough geothermal energy to power Earth (excerpts from a recent article)

A geothermal power company ‘is developing technology to blast rock with microwaves to potentially drill the deepest holes on Earth.’

Representational image of a geothermal plant

As fossil fuels cause increasing dangerous emissions, companies everywhere are looking to reduce their production of greenhouse gases.

One key way to do that is through geothermal, said Matt Houde, co-founder and project manager at Quaise Energy, according to a press release published on Thursday.

“The total energy content of the heat stored underground exceeds our annual energy demand as a planet by a factor of a billion. So tapping into a fraction of that is more than enough to meet our energy needs for the foreseeable future,” said Houde.

Today, however, we can’t drill deep enough to unlock that energy because we lack some key technology. 

“If we can get to ten miles down, we can start to find economic temperatures everywhere. And if we go even deeper, we can get to temperatures where water [pumped to the site] becomes supercritical,” a steam-like phase that will allow “a step change improvement in the power production per well and so cheapen the cost of energy,” Houde said.

He points to the deepest hole that’s been drilled to date: the Kola borehole. Despite advanced developments, the notable hole just goes 7.6 miles down and took 20 years to complete because conventional equipment like mechanical drill bits couldn’t withstand the conditions at those depths. 

“And the truth is, we’ll need hundreds if not thousands of Kola boreholes if we want to scale geothermal to the capacity that’s needed,” Houde said. 

Hector Vargas, Quaise Energy 

Enter Quaise, which “is developing technology to blast rock with microwaves to potentially drill the deepest holes on Earth. And no, I’m not stealing a plot device from Star Trek. This technology is real and has been proven in [an MIT] lab,” said Houde.

Geothermal is available 24/7, which “can help balance out the intermittent flows of wind and [solar],” added Houde. Deep geothermal plants will also have a “minimal surface footprint,” meaning they won’t require much land.  

Finally, Houde said, geothermal is “the perfect energy source to take advantage of the largest workforce in the world, the oil and gas industry.” That industry has “11 million jobs in the US alone, and a skill set that is exactly what’s needed for geothermal to rapidly scale.”

Quaise is utilizing new technology that replaces drill bits with millimeter wave energy that melts and then vaporizes the rock to create ever-deeper holes. Developed at MIT over the last 15 years. scientists have demonstrated that millimeter waves could indeed drill a hole in basalt. 

An ideal technology

Houde explained that millimeter waves “are ideal for the hard, hot, crystalline rock deep down that conventional drilling struggles with.” They are not as efficient in the softer rock closer to the surface, but “those are the same formations that conventional drilling excels at.” Hence the company combines both approaches to be more efficient.

Now, Houde has ambitious plans for his new technology. “Our current plan is to drill the first holes in the field in the next few years,” Houde said. “And while we continue to advance the technology to drill deeper, we will also explore our first commercial geothermal projects in shallower settings.”

A Promising New Battery Development

A Promising New Battery Development

Lithium is likely the biggest issue that EVs face. Range and recharge times are improving significantly. While there are several battery alternatives being explored I found this one particularly interesting.

Scientists discover lithium replacement that may revolutionize EV batteries: ‘99.7% efficient over 400 hours of use’

A team of scientists at the school’s Center for Materials Innovation found that crustaceans like crabs and lobster contain a chemical in their shells called chitin, which can be used to power batteries when combined with zinc. 

Crustacean shells packed with this chemical are typically thrown out en masse by restaurants that have no other use for them. But researchers believe this waste could serve as a powerful resource in the search for more sustainable batteries. 

Lithium-ion batteries, the common kind found in most of our cellphones and laptops, can take hundreds of thousands of years to break down after they’re used up — not to mention the devastating environmental impact lithium extraction has on our planet. 

But these shellfish batteries are biodegradable and can decompose in soil after just five months, leaving behind zinc, which can be recycled