Category Archives: Emerging Technology

EVs that swap batteries instead of recharging

(Reuters) – Ample, a seven-year-old San Francisco startup, wants to skirt one of the big hurdles to widespread adoption of electric vehicles by reviving the idea of quick, automated battery swaps for owners concerned about running out of juice while driving.

Source: California startup touts battery-swapping to juice demand for electric vehicles | Reuters

Interesting but I suspect super fast DC charging will meet most use scenarios for EVs. As EVs switch to 125 kwh to 350 kwh charging capabilities – the time to charge 80% of capacity will be short enough.

Bill Gates: Nuclear power will ‘absolutely’ be politically acceptable

Agree:

Nuclear power has to overcome a baneful reputation garnered by association with the atomic bomb and radioactive disasters, but it’s a necessary, worthy and surmountable challenge to correct the naysayers, according to Gates.

That’s because the need for clean energy is dire, and the operation of nuclear power plants produces no greenhouse gas emissions. According to Gates, new innovations in nuclear technology (in which he is an investor) are making nuclear energy safer and more affordable, and countries around the world are starting to adopt nuclear power.

Source: Bill Gates: Nuclear power will ‘absolutely’ be politically acceptable

Excellent: Tech startup builds repairable, upgradeable notebook computer

Good for consumers and the environment:

Laptops these days are slimmer, sleeker, and lighter than ever—but their repairability and configurability are taking enormous hits in the process. Framework is seeking to roll back the clock in a good way with its first product, the upcoming Framework 13.5-inch laptop.

Following the lead of companies like Fairphone, the startup is focused on respecting users’ right to repair by building systems focused on modular design, with components that are easily configured, replaced, and even upgraded.

Source: Framework startup designed a thin, modular, repairable 13-inch laptop | Ars Technica

Meanwhile, my old Apple Macbook Pro has batteries glued inside and which take 2-3 hours of labor to replace… not repairable, re-usable, recyclable technology.

Hyundai to replace battery packs in 82,000 EVs

After many EVs caught fire, a defect was identified inside the individual battery cells. The company will not replace the entire battery packs in their EVs made between Nov 2017 and March 2020.

Source: Hyundai Announces Massive Battery Recall For Roughly 82,000 BEVs

From an environmental standpoint, this large recall likely negates environmental gains from all EV sales. Yuck.

The immediate need for 82,000 new battery packs in an industry currently constrained by battery supply will hinder sales of many EVs for some time. Literally, this is 2 1/2 years production from a single large EV manufacturer (Hyundai).

Meanwhile, GM indicates they will have a fix for the Chevy Bolt EV fires in earlier models. They indicate a software update will be able to detect future battery problems, alert the driver, and then repair or replace the battery bank before it catches fire. The underlying problem on the Chevy Bolt is not the same as that on the Hyundai cars although both resulted in fires.

Texas semiconductor factories shut down during power outage

Semiconductor plants – perhaps five of them – were ordered shut down, in Texas, due to the state’s failed electricity grid.

Semiconductors are manufactured in a chemical engineering process that can take weeks, per chip, along the line. The time required depends on the components being manufactured and can range from weeks to two months.

Thus, shutting down these lines could disrupt service for some time.

Source: Samsung, NXP, and Infineon chip fabs shut down in Texas amid record storm – DCD

There is already a global electronic components shortage that has caused most all major auto manufacturers to temporarily close or slow down auto manufacturing. This shortage is compounded by a multi-day fire at AKM Semiconductor in Japan, last fall. That firm made up to 90% of the world’s components for consumer electronics, plus Bluetooth chips and other items and was expected to cause at least six month delays in parts shipments.

I an electronic item I ordered last October has been postponed indefinitely – a key part was made by AKM. Another item I ordered in January, with expected shipment of Feb 12, was delayed until June 21, 2021.

Why did the Chevy Bolt and Hyundai Kona batteries catch fire?

This linked story has a good explanation of EV battery tech and how a component failure may have led to battery fires.

Koren news sources are citing anonymous sources claiming that Hyundai has found the cause of the battery fires causing both the Bolt and Hyundai recalls.

Source: Cause of LG’s battery fires rumored to be found (updated) – Electrek

Battery chemistry and technology is difficult, more than most of us realize.

The rumors are that the car makers will end up replacing individual cells or entire battery banks. GM acknowledged earlier this week that they are making progress towards resolving the battery problem and implied that battery replacement might be an option.