We’re running the most dangerous experiment in history right now, which is to see how much carbon dioxide the atmosphere… can handle before there is an environmental catastrophe. ~Elon Musk
Here we are talking about EV as in Electric Vehicle, not eV as in electron volt, although they are indeed related. I guess the first car that comes to mind is the Tesla. Elon Musk’s Tesla has certainly pioneered EV technology, including software and batteries to help reduce carbon emissions and help save the world, Elon’s quest.
However, to make EVs affordable, the cost of batteries must come down, and the rare-earth elements needed to produce them must not devastate the environment or enslave workers. Did you know that EVs and the cell phone in your pocket most likely contain cobalt mined by child workers in Africa?
This issue starts with a bold prediction from Elon Musk, highlights some promising new battery tech, and reveals a new source of rare-earth elements that will help make EVs sustainable.
One Million Robo-Taxis by Next Year
Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk unveiled a plan to repurpose Tesla vehicles into robotaxis. This would allow owners of Teslas equipped with autonomous functionality to rent out their car while it is not in use via an app. Musk estimates a single robotaxi can make $30,000 a year [for the owner].
Good News: Musk said that all Tesla vehicles produced right now already have the full self-driving chip in place and believes the program can be implemented as early as next year. I can’t wait!
Electric Car Prices will Shrink with Falling Battery Cost and Increased Capacity
Trading in your pollution emitting combustion engine car for an EV will soon be a matter of taste and your carbon footprint guilt, and not a matter of cost.
The crossover point — when electric vehicles become cheaper than their combustion-engine equivalents — will be a crucial moment for the EV market. … Every year, that crossover point gets closer. In 2017, a BloombergNEF analysis forecast that the crossover point was in 2026, nine years out. In 2018, the crossover point was in 2024…
Innolith announced that it is developing the world’s first 1000 Wh/kg rechargeable non-explosive (non-lithium) inorganic battery, capable of powering an Electric Vehicle (EV) for over 1000 km [621 miles] on a single charge.
The Innolith Energy Battery would also radically reduce costs due to the avoidance of exotic and expensive materials combined with the very high energy density of the system.
Good News: Lower cost batteries and this fantastic new inorganic battery from Innolith are coming soon.
Cobalt for EVs Could be Harvested from the Oceans
Lithium batteries for EVs contain cobalt — a dwindling element from mines in the Congo that often employ child labor and use other unethical practices. We may face a cobalt shortage as soon as the early 2020s!
Now, a team of MIT engineers say they’ve found an alternative, according to New Scientist: using a beach ball-like apparatus hanging from abandoned oceanic oil rigs, it may be possible to absorb enough cobalt to build hundreds of thousands of batteries for Teslas or other electric cars.
Good News: There is 70 times more cobalt in the ocean than there is on land and just 76 oil rigs outfitted with these cobalt-absorbing devices could absorb enough to make up a quarter of the cobalt used in battery manufacturing in 2017!
My next car is bound to be an EV. Wouldn’t it be great if it could pay for itself and help save the environment at the same time? Now we need electric airplanes to soothe our carbon footprint guilt!
Optimistically yours, Rod Murray