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Issue #67 - 900kW chargers, industrial-grade brine, electric sailboats and a 100 seat aluminium-powered plane

The EV Musings Newsletter
Issue #67 - 900kW chargers, industrial-grade brine, electric sailboats and a 100 seat aluminium-powered plane
By Gary Comerford • Issue #67 • View online
One more newsletter to go before Christmas so I hope you are all getting prepared for it.
I know I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that I can make it home to the family this year rather than spending Christmas by myself as I did last year.
In EV and Renewables news we’re talking about 900kW chargers, industrial-grade brine, electric sailboats and a 100 seat aluminium-powered plane this week.

This Week's Podcast (s).
The EV Musings Podcast: 109 - The Disability Episode
The EV Musings Podcast: 110 - The Checking-In Episode
Top Five EV/ Renewable Stories.
Compass Minerals Found a Way to Convert Sustainable Lithium Brine to Battery-Grade Lithium Hydroxide
With the explosion in large-scale Li-ion batteries expected over the coming few years - both for EVs and for static storage - one of the main areas of concern is sourcing the requisite mineral components.
One such mineral is Lithium which is now mined in places such as Cornwall.
However, a new process can create battery grade Lithium Oxide from Lithium brine.
As the estimate of global resources available is 80 million tonnes this eases the issue somewhat.
The company stated that at a concentration of >56.5% lithium hydroxide monohydrate, the conversion sample meets established battery-grade specifications for the U.S. domestic EV and energy storage markets.
Dawn of the 900-kW EV Ultra-Charger, and a Battery That Can Handle It
On the topic of fast chargers, there seems to be an arms race to see who can get the fastest charger onto the market. ABB announced the 360kW Megacharger and now Desten has demoed a battery/ charger combination that is 2.4 times faster than that.
Imagine being able to charge your car from 0-80% in 4 minutes.
That’s game-changing.
Of course, there are many barriers in the way of doing that. Batteries heat up rapidly at that sort of charge speed and heat is the enemy of a battery unless it can be dissipated, although Desten say these batteries will only heat to 15c.
Desten plans to put a considerable amount of buffer battery between the car and the grid
Offering a 500 km (311 miles) WLTP range, the company announced it could charge from 0-80 percent in just 4 minutes, 40 seconds. This, of course, is in a perfect world where 900-kW ultra-fast chargers are as readily accessible as gas stations are today, which they manifestly are not.
We await developments with interest.
World’s Largest Clean Energy Cargo Ship Combines Sailing With Electric Propulsion
We talk a lot on this podcast and newsletter about decarbonising the big culprits such as aviation and shipping. Here is an example of the latter. A sailboat with electric motors powered by the propellers which are used while the ship is under sail.
Designed as a three-masted topsail schooner, inspired by traditional boats, Ceiba features a sail area that’s big enough to allow it to move even in very light winds, while also being easy to manoeuvre during challenging weather conditions. It’s also equipped with an auxiliary electric engine that kicks in when extra power is needed. The batteries will be charged either from solar panels or with the regenerative energy resulting from the dual propellers acting as underwater turbines.
Ceiba will be able to transport 250 tons of goods, and its future sisters will incorporate more innovative propulsion technologies, such as hydrogen fuel cells, and algae biofuel.
The clean energy cargo ship will make its debut as a coffee carrier.
Wright Proposes a 100-Seat Electric Airliner Powered by Aluminum
Focusing again on the short to midrange airline routes, Wright Aviation is developing new battery tech based on aluminium. The aluminium fuel cell has certain disadvantages - it is less energy-dense than jet fuel or liquid hydrogen, and it needs fairly carbon intensive aluminium to produce - but the difference in this over a battery is quite spectacular.
Wright’s latest project, however, will be totally zero-emissions, and will use high-density energy storage to tackle flights up to an hour in duration – that’s enough for the ~1,000 km (620 miles) hop between Sydney and Melbourne, or London-Geneva, or Tokyo-Osaka, or LA-San Francisco.
Aluminium doesn’t carry as much energy by weight as jet fuel or liquid hydrogen; at a specific energy of 8,611.1 Wh/kg, though, it’s about 33 times better than today’s leading lithium-ion batteries. And it knocks it out of the park on volume, packing in 23,277.9 Wh/l. That’ll be music to the ears of airline companies.
The cathode and electrolyte do increase the weight of the overall system somewhat, limiting aluminium’s specific energy ceiling to 60-70 percent of what a hydrogen system might achieve. But Wright reasons that “since half of the single-aisle market is flights shorter than 800 miles, the range penalty might not be as consequential as it might initially seem.”
But for this kind of system to become a green option, carriers will need to source their aluminium from green smelters, using clean energy, clean heat and carbon-neutral smelting anodes. Mind you, these technologies are under development, and hydrogen has its own challenges in getting to zero emissions.
Panama Canal Introduces 1st GHG Emissions Fee on Its Way to Carbon Neutrality
With shipping using the dirtiest ‘bunker fuel’ made from the dregs at the bottom of a barrel of oil, anything that can be done to reduce this impact is to be welcomed.
In much the same way as a congestion charge incentivises cars to avoid certain parts of the city, the Panama Canal has decided to start adding a Greenhouse Gas fee to every ship moving through the shipping channel.
On the heels of COP26, the Panama Canal has unveiled a new greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions classification system aimed at strengthening the waterway’s position as a green corridor for global trade.
Specifically, the fee will support investments to guarantee environmental performance standards and aid in making the Panama Canal operations carbon neutral.
Ships will be classified in levels depending on their energy efficiency. The classification and fee will apply to all vessels over 125 feet (38.1 meters) in length overall (LOA). This classification system will incorporate the following three factors that will reduce GHG emissions between 20-100 percent during transit through the canal:
  • Energy Efficient Design Index (EEDI)
  • Efficient operational measures such as the use of bow thrusters
  • Use of zero-carbon biofuels or carbon-neutral fuels
The canal said it has held discussions with shipowners directly for transparency, as it evaluates these changes, and will work in partnership with customers to accelerate carbon neutrality. This program will align with the IMO’s regulations that promote international plans for decarbonization in the maritime sector.
A cool EV or renewable thing
From Episode 109
Tesla has finally started opening its Supercharger network to other brands.
It’s only a trial and its only at ten locations in the Netherlands. But it’s happening.
In order to use one there are certain criteria, though. You have to have a car that supports CCS charging (so anyone with a Leaf or similar can’t use it) and you have to have a Tesla account with the app.
The charge is quite expensive unless you buy a monthly subscription. Then the charge drops to the same as the Tesla drivers pay €.24 per kWh.
Naturally Tesla owners are being vocal about this - although, to be fair, the majority of complaints relate to the fact that in order to use the Superchargers correctly a number of makes of vehicle - the VW ID range in particular - have to park in one charger slot but use the adjacent charger to connect. This blocks two chargers in locations where queuing is becoming quite common
From Episode 110
With the end-of-life - or just plain closure - of many coal mines, there is a huge potential for repurposing some of those facilities in the renewable space.
Such a project is in place in Australia. Muswellbrook is a quiet town of about 12,000 people in the Upper Hunter Region of New South Wales.
It is dominated by two coal mines which are slated to close starting next year.
But instead of putting 500 people out of a job, the town has been revived with the creation of a renewable energy project.
A disused coal void will provide Bells Mountain (a local hydro project based at nearby Lake Liddell) with a 250MW pumped hydro facility with 8 hours of energy storage. Energy Estate and Idemitsu will develop a 150MW to 200MW solar PV and associated battery project, as well as a green hydrogen production facility.
All of these projects will bring new life to the town as well as provide employment for a lot of the miners who would, otherwise, be out of a job.
Taking fossil fuel assets and using them in the renewable space: Great work.
Something To Think About.
I’m in the final stages of putting together the guests for the season-ending Round Table episode. At the moment everyone on the short-list is new to the podcast which means it’ll be fresh faces (well, voices) all around.
Once all the names are confirmed I’ll let everyone know who’s involved.
What's that, a mystery box? Should I click it? I think I should.
What's that, a mystery box? Should I click it? I think I should.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Gary Comerford

Topical stories about renewables, EVs and things that are interesting to EV drivers.

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