lfp98 writes: When I converted my EV from lead to lithium, I moved the tired old lead batteries to the basement for backup during power outages. Both GM and Nissan are now planning to do the same on a massive scale, developing systems for utility-level power storage based on used Leaf and Volt battery packs. Both companies already have in-house pilot projects, and plan to ultimately market the systems to power companies. Even after 100,000 miles, these batteries retain up to 80% of their original capacity. Though too weak for automotive use, they can find a second life in the much less demanding role of stationary power storage, where the power/weight ratio is nearly irrelevant and the rapid charge and discharge cycles that degrade the battery's performance rarely if ever occur. Finding a new use for old batteries would effectively lower the lifecycle costs and carbon footprints for both EVs and renewable power.
lfp98 writes: President Bill Powers has long been in conflict with Governor Rick Perry over the direction and goals of the University of Texas' flagship Austin campus. This week, news leaked that the Chancellor requested Powers' resignation before this Thursday's meeting of the Regents (who are all Perry appointees), under threat of being fired at that meeting if he did not resign. So far Powers has refused, while expressing an openness to leaving after the end of the current academic year [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/06/bill-powers-ut-resign_n_5562317.html]. Powers is highly regarded by UT students, faculty, alumni [http://www.dallasnews.com/sports/college-sports/texas-longhorns/20140706-alumni-letter-calls-university-of-texas-president-s-forced-resignation-a-travesty.ece] and the larger academic community, but has been criticized by Perry and other conservatives for not being sufficiently focused on providing educational services at the lowest possible cost. Powers' supporters view the forced dismissal as brazen political interference with University governance, primarily for the purpose of allowing Perry to influence the choice of a new president before he leaves office in December [http://chronicle.com/article/As-Fight-Over-U-of-Texas/147535/?cid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en].
lfp98 writes: One of the most Draconian of the recent “enhancements” to peer review at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was a provision that any proposal not funded on the first try could only be revised and resubmitted once. (http://enhancing-peer-review.nih.gov) Since 2010, NIH staff have been screening incoming proposals and eliminating any judged to be merely a further revision of a previous proposal. After vociferous protests from scientists, NIH appears to have relented and scrapped the rule. Henceforth, any proposal not funded on the second try can simply be resubmitted as a new proposal. (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-14-074.html#sthash.RQBDcWCn.dpuf) For scientists, this is a huge deal, but whether for good or ill is hard to say. Allowing unlimited resubmissions won't increase the number of funded grants, but will surely increase the total number of applications, so that overloaded NIH grant review panels will become even more so, and already abysmal single-digit funding rates are likely to drop even lower.
lfp98 writes: Just a month after the collapse of independent battery-swap company Better Place, the uniquely successful maker of luxury electric cars, Tesla, has announced it will provide its own battery-swap capability for its Model S sedans. The first stations will be built adjacent to Tesla's charging stations on the SF-to-LA route, and a swap will take no longer than filling a gas tank. From the article: "A battery pack swap will cost between $60 and $80, about the same as filling up a 15-gallon gas tank", Musk said. "Drivers who choose to swap must reclaim their original battery on their return trip or pay the difference in cost for the new pack."
lfp98 writes: According to David Wasserman's vote tracker, Gov Romney's share of the certified popular vote, which continues to trickle in, has now dipped to 47.4934%, which of course rounds down to 47%, or exactly the percentage of voters Romney had claimed would never even consider voting for him because they are too dependent on government handouts.