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Now that the legal mumbo jumbo is outta the way...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Watch for Lithium

Didn't I say watch this one? On Feb 23, 2010 I posted this:

Today I pulled this from an email I get from TownHall for today:



The Motley Fool confirms the boom. “Lithium-ion technology looks like the anointed successor to the battery.”

TIME Magazine is stunned by Lithium’s results, saying “This Malibu is electric, powered by a 400- pound lithium-ion is silent and entirely emissions free.”

CNN/MONEY confirms that the GM Volt car which uses Lithium batteries “is projected to get an estimated 230 miles per gallon.”

The BBC News says Lithium “could help power the vehicles of the future.”

SONY announces $370 million dollar Lithium push to DOUBLE production


off the reservation said...

I am not convinced regarding these electric cars. We have the USeless Govt dumping our tax dollars into subsidies for the manufacture/tooling as well as giving consumers a subsidy. What does it actually cost for one of these cars like the Chevy Volt? Is it $40k? Is it more like $80k (USeless Govt bailout of $50Billion which GM paid back $6Billion so that is could qualify for another $10Billion loan from the USelss Govt in addition to other USeless Govt money for retooling their assembly lines).

The EPA sticker on the Volt shows anywhere from 31MPG to 40MPG highway. Yet GM also broadcast a 230MPG highway rating (and Honda responded with 367MPG). Where the hell do they get 230MPG? Allegedly the offset of plugging the car into the wall to recharge after 40miles.

So, let us look at a Volkswagon Beetle with a TDI diesel engine. EPA has tried repeatedly to block this engine from the US. If you take the Euro "chipped" version then you are looking at about 55MPG highway. If you put on all the EPA NOx restraints (NOx contributes to blurring distance viewing, not "choking" people) then the car comes down to 45MPG highway "smogged" out. The cost for that vehicle is about $18k.

Now consider this. You are not buying the Lithium, you are buying stock papers on the Lithium mining/refining. If I am not mistaken, most of the company operations are in other countries (Chile, perhaps).

Something I learned from Gold a while back. If I play in the Gold stocks I can get burned really bad. If the company is in another country where the mining is done, the company can be shut down or seized by the foreign government rendering my stock paper worthless. If the gold prices become depressed, especially for a long period of time, the stock paper can again become greatly depressed or lead to bankruptcy for a mining company. So, I hold the actual Gold. Not in an IRA trust, but actually purchased with after tax dollars.

Suppose something else comes along that works better for batteries than Lithium, what then? I am not convinced that these vehicles have a growing appeal given their (real) price and the push to find a better battery than Lithium. And, Lithium has some inherent problems as well. Ever heard of thermal runaway? What data do we yet have from accidents involving Lithium batteries? I can tell you that in the Army, we could "weaponize" Lithium batteries in hard situations because of this property of thermal runaway.

And last, but not least, I offer this little gem for your viewing pleasure:

For those that might not be aware, the IEEE Spectrum is the general techie magazine for the Electrical Engineering community. It is a refereed periodical for a professional organization. Edmonds makes reference to this journal.

If you are looking for a big risk with a potential for some reward then go for it. For me, there are other things out there to invest in that are easier for me to see where they are going.

Auntie Em/Libertarian Woman said...

Wow! SEE I knew I wanted your input on this!

It will be very interesting to watch the manuevers this administration will contort to push this on the American buying public. Until, like you say OTR, the first accident involving thermal runaway.

off the reservation said...

And for the work that I do, these battery cars do not work. I travel a lot, usually more than 100 miles in a day. If I do not need heavy equipment (using my dually at 17MPG on diesel) I use the Beetle at 45MPG diesel. The A/C here in Texas on a hot 110F day comes in pretty handy and drops the Beetle down to 44MPG (diesels want to be loaded down). What would that do to that Chevy Volt? Battery life degrades in high heat environments. And I also load down the Beetle with other equipment. The Beetle has almost 200,000 miles on it. For $18k it was a great buy.

I have considered "chipping" it back to the Euro tables for the higher mileage. CO emissions are negligible compared to a gasoline car of the same mileage (Toyota Echo or the old Geo Metro). And at 55MPG I could go from 640 miles on a tank of diesel to 780 miles.