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Comment Really? (Score 5, Informative) 244

"For his invention to work as described, they say, it would probably have to abandon the laws of thermodynamics, which say perpetual motion is not possible,"

I read this section of the article several times, and I cannot make heads nor tails.

The entire invention, assuming it is real, replaces the normally plastic-and-liquid electrolyte with a glass sheet. The major result of this change is that it prevents ion movement across layers, which suppresses dendrite growth. As a result, you can replace the electrodes with pure metal, which you can't do in a conventional design because this massively promotes dendrite growth. Using pure metal electrodes allows higher voltages.

That's it. It's a huge advance, if true, but there's certainly no new physics in here.

So when I real people not understanding the presence of pure electrodes, I wonder what they are thinking. There are lots of batteries with pure electrodes, not the least of which is the common dry cell, and on the other end things like ZEBRA which have pure sodium as one of the electrodes. The ZEBRA is a good example, because it too uses a solid electrolyte (beta something). I don't recall anyone saying it breaks the 2nd law.

Yet, reading the article, that appears to be the argument for this statement.

Comment Re:Fantastic, really. (Score 1) 306

> when a modern ICE will cost you less than 4 grand in fuel for the entire life of the vehicle? :rolleyes:

The typical US car is driven 16,500 miles per year.
It is used an average of 11 years.
The average fuel economy is 24.5 miles/gallon.
The average US gas price is around $2.

16000 x 11 / 24.5 = 7183 gallons x $2 ~= $14,500

Do math. It helps you avoid looking like an ultramaroon.

Comment Re:Fantastic, really. (Score 1) 306

"Plus the speculation that these batteries will cost 10x as much when the inventor describes them as "cheap" is wild. If they cost 3x more to manufacture"

It's perfectly reasonable to expect such a battery to cost roughly the same as current technologies.

The details in all the articles I could find are very light, but it appears the basic construction of this battery replaces the plastic sheet separator with a glass one. The materials are otherwise the same or similar, with the exception of the electrodes which appear to be less complex and potentially less expensive.

There are no details on how the glass separator is constructed, but there are any number of ways this could be done in an automated fashion. The obvious one would be to make the plates and deposit the electrolyte on them then stack them into a cell. This would make cylindrical cells harder to make - they're just a long plastic sheet coated and then rolled up. However, prismatic cells require the sheet to be repeatedly folded, so stacking would be on the same order of complexity.

Overall, based on what little we know, I would expect these cells to cost about the same as current tech once they entered wide production.

Comment Re:Err, guys? (Score 1) 644

> Look, I get it, but honestly, this is the same argument that was being advanced 100 years ago when electricity was automating things

Not really. If the device is *smarter* than you, then it really is something different. Automation to date has shifted employment from moving your arms to thinking about things. If the automation of the future outthinks you, then what do we do? Of course, if they are smarter than us, I suspect they will solve the problem for us anyway.

That said, I believe there is 0% chance of that happening. Modern AI is nothing more than applying a formula to a dataset, there's nothing "smart" at all, and it generally fails. In spite of BILLIONS spent on it, Google still gives me ads for products I bought months ago or never will buy. I really don't worry about the rise of the machines, at least not due to something we do.

Comment What BS (Score 1) 213

"To wit: a common question we receive is, “Why did you send New Horizons to Pluto if it’s not a planet anymore?"

I call BS on this.

So there's all these people out there who are aware that Pluto exists, and that it was demoted to non-planet, and that we're sending a probe there, yet these same people cannot figure out why we would send a probe there? And these same people are also *unaware* that we send probes to things like the Moon and various asteroids, let alone deep space?


Comment Re:Higher profit margins? (Score 1) 40

> A 'brand' is a stamp of quality, so mixing budget and premium products into one brand is generally a bad thing.


The problem is that making yourself a premium brand is hard, and expensive. And with Apple and Samsung already in that space, what does HTC have to offer to make themselves noticed?

I really think this is just the endgame of the market shaking itself out. I suspect that the leaders of today will be the leaders of tomorrow and everyone else will be either niche, low-end, or gone.

Comment Re:China and South Korea and Russia can do it (Score 5, Informative) 88

> Countries that want to and commit to building nuclear can do it well, on decent schedule and budget

Uhh, yeah.

Over the years, Russia has committed to building something like 50 reactors. After Chernobyl, that was reduced to something like 25. They have grand plans for a closed fuel cycle using breeder/burners and reprocessing, and lots of other ideas. So far they've successfully built three. The rest remain hopelessly overdue or completely unfunded. They have decommed as many as they've built since 2000.

China had big plans too, something between 50 and 100 reactors over a 25 to 45 year period. Then the 2008 Sichuan earthquake happened, and they learned that all the construction companies lied and cut corners practically everywhere. The famous school that collapsed only did so because the construction team couldn't be bothered to bend the end of the rebars in the vertical supports, which would have otherwise easily survived. This, needless to say, opened many people's eyes, and the plans have been scaled back to about 25 reactors.

However, these plans are very much in doubt. CNNC based much of its economic arguments on buying up old western designs and then selling them, with Chinese financing, around the world. This did not happen, no one is interested in building nuclear and sales have been rather limited. As a result, the government has been somewhat more interested in renewables, which everyone is buying, and the country has since become the largest installer of wind and solar on the planet. They install more PV in the last five years than the entire planned nuclear buildout.

Nuclear is dead. Siemens, Framitome, AECL, Westinghouse, Toshiba, B&W, BNFL, and on and on and on. The few remaining players are all on life support - GE looks very much like they'll end development with their current generation, Areva only remains alive due to repeated massive French taxpayer infusions, and CNNC's only prospects are local.

You can pretend this isn't true, and many people reply to my messages talking about all these paper plans, but to anyone that's actually worked in the energy industry, the CAPEX > $7.50 is a death knell and everyone knows it.

Comment Re:Is it good for a thousand cycles? (Score 1) 124

>after the thousandth charge-discharge cycle
Solid electrolytes are generally better at this, because you don't get the carriers migrating to places they don't come out of again. And in this case, if it does prevent dendrite formation, which would seem likely for the same reasons, then the other "sudden loss" avenue is gone as well. At first glance you should expect such a battery to last longer.

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