September 22, 2023

Benjamin Better

Better Get Computer

Challenges with Materials for Future High Tech Electric Cars and Transportation

Challenges with Materials for Future High Tech Electric Cars and Transportation

Many folks just love the idea of having an electric car, in fact, they’d like all cars, trucks, and buses to be electrically powered, along with all bicycles, mopeds, and motorcycles. But wait I say, what about my electric golf cart which I often cruise to Starbucks in? You see, golf carts are street legal in my town of Palm Desert, CA – and I like many residents here take full advantage of this little known fact.

Not long ago, I was talking with an acquaintance from Sweden whose friends work at a local Volvo factory there. I was told that Volvo was planning on making more models of hybrids and electric vehicles in the future. We talked about how wonderful it would be if all cars were electric. And I said; “well, if they figure out the battery deal, then I am with you, but look at the cost of lithium and REEs right now, that not a good deal.”

My acquaintance said; “You are right it is way too expensive, but due to the fact that not enough are being produced I guess?” Surely, that’s correct, but there is more to it than that really, you see, China is hoarding REEs or Rare Earth Elements for their in-country manufacturers. Other nations now also want to get in on it and artificially raise prices, same as the Oil Cartel. Indeed, these alternative energy entrepreneurs, corporations, and the nation-states with the raw materials are hardly saints.

They see money and dollar signs written all over the alternative energy sector and green-propulsion systems which are to be our future transportation by way of global mandate in the name of climate change. And unfortunately, it seems everyone in the supply chain is working to manipulate things. Perhaps you noted recently what happened with the EU carbon-trading corruption case which actually caused the halting of carbon credits?

Some have contended that it is much more diabolical here in the US and claim that we basically have a few billionaires trying to wrestle the energy sector from the incumbents, Big Oil, Coal, etc. Even the conspiracy theorists are in on it now telling us not to be mislead by global warming alarmist folks, as they use the media to get the populations to demand it. All that does is cause increased regulation and causes supply and demand curve to diverge raising prices and taxing populations, they say.

Some point to the Enron debacle in California and tell us carbon-trading in the US will do nothing more than cause rolling black-outs, and job losses, and it will be much worse once everyone starts driving electric cars. Does this mean I should now feel guilty driving my golf cart around the community here as if I am part of the problem for leaving the fossil fuels at the gasoline station?

You see, I am not so sold on electric cars, that is until the batteries last longer, and can be recycled properly, as that appears to be a future unintended consequence. Still, I am all for efficiency and what works. Today, however we know that Oil and Coal work and are working and most alternative energy projects don’t, far too many have failed, or gone bankrupt. Often, they are not cost effective, can’t perform, unreliable, and many lead to other problems.

Does this mean I am against electric vehicles? Heavens no, but I am still waiting until a few of these challenges are conquered. Where is all that lithium coming from for the ion-lithium batteries, where are all of those exotic alloys and metals going to come from? How can the price point for electric cars compete until those problems are solved?

If someone wants to have an honest conversation about energy, environment, and efficiency, fine, but if they want to spout utter hokum, I am quite bored with all the standard arguments, guilt trips, and attempts to promote social trends, I live in the real world. We need energy, it must be reliable and at the lowest possible price for civilization to work. Not only for the electric cars we are to be driving in the future, but also for the power plants which will be producing that electricity. Please consider all this.