Batteries are now "part of the clean-tech boom, with all the dewy and righteous credibility of thin-film solar and offshore windmills," Seth Fletcher asserts in "Bottled Lightning." Righteous? Surely. Credible? Maybe.
Uh, credible, no.
Some commentators worry that we're going to replace our dependence on foreign oil with a dependence on foreign batteriesand foreign lithium. "Bottled Lightning" alleviates at least one worry: By taking us to the salt flats of the "Lithium Triangle" in Chile, Bolivia and Argentina, Mr. Fletcher shows us the abundance of the metal and puts to rest any fears of "peak lithium."
Mr. Fletcher is in love with the Volt. After a test drive, he gushes: "The car, in short, is fantastic." And it is technically sweet. But at $41,000 per copy, will it interest American drivers?
Hypesterism is not scientific evidence or supportable.
Look, I'd love to find a solution that works in the "battery" realm. But Seth (and everyone else!) has two problems he has to deal with (and hasn't):
These are the realities of chemical reactions folks. I know there are a lot of people who would love to find a way to "replace" liquid hydrocarbons, but the fact remains that we don't use them due to some conspiracy. We use them because they pack a lot of energy into a small space and the majority of their reactant mass comes from the atmosphere.
There's no getting around these facts. Better technology will, over time, improve charge acceptance, but it is going to be hard-pressed to do much for density problem which comes about from carrying the necessary reactants in the battery's case.
Hype must give way to physical and chemical reality.
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