back to article UK waves £45m cheque, charges scientists with battery tech boffinry

The UK has launched a £45m competition to support research in electric vehicle battery materials, technologies and manufacturing processes. Although the now-commonplace lithium ion battery was developed based on research by Oxford University in the 1980s, there are conspicuously no battery manufacturers in the UK today – …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    45 million

    too little, too late.

    1. inmypjs Silver badge

      Re: 45 million

      5 million better than say pissing away 50 million of tax payers money.

      IMO the chance of government spending money effectively to produce anything useful is extremely slim.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 45 million

        IMO the chance of government spending money effectively to produce anything useful is extremely slim.

        Yes, this attitude comes very naturally when you lived your entire life in a wealthy western country, which has been investing massively into all kinds of public infrastructure over centuries - so it mostly works so well as to become "invisible" unless it fails.

        Try taking away the road system, the water and severage, the electrical grid, the health-care system, the workplace safety, the old-age and disability pentions, the education system, and yes, the fundamental science and technology - all of which are paid, in part or in whole by the public. See what kind of alternative will be provided by the unregulated and unsupported private enterprise.

        If your attitude is not somewhat modified, I will stand you a beer.

        1. Captain DaFt

          Re: 45 million

          Try taking away the road system, the water and severage, the electrical grid, the health-care system, the workplace safety, the old-age and disability pentions, the education system, and yes, the fundamental science and technology - all of which are paid, in part or in whole by the public.

          A most succinct statement of US government policy for this millennium, unfortunately.

          After all, they boldy state, the private sector will step in!

        2. inmypjs Silver badge

          Re: 45 million

          "been investing massively into all kinds of public infrastructure"

          Providing infrastructure has nothing in common with throwing money at industry/universities to promote innovation and success. I have been indirectly on the receiving end of such initiatives and in every case the recipient regarded it as nothing more than free money if you were prepared to jump through enough bullshit hoops to get it. This 45 million will be badly spent and likely produce nothing useful.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: 45 million

            Providing infrastructure has nothing in common with throwing money at industry/universities to promote innovation and success.

            Whether you like it or not, science and technology are an essential part of the modern infrastructure. No country can hope to maintain, let alone improve, its way of life anymore without making an investment there: our environment, our technologies, and dangers and threats we must respond to change too fast at this point. If you do not invest in science and technology, you will eventually just have to buy the solutions to your current and future problems from somebody who'd invested time and effort into solving them. That's fine as long as you have something to sell (see Australia, Canada, and Russia) - but last time I checked, Blighty is no longer flush with natural resources.

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  2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    Nurture

    "Fundamental science needs to be nurtured," Wu said.

    Indeed, so what about getting rid of tuition fees, and encouraging grants for people who want to study STEM subjects instead of expecting them to borrow money to pay to learn media studies?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nurture

      I think part of the beneficial nature of borrowing money for tuition is the student having some personal interest in the proposition... "skin in the game", if you will. Knowing that those loans will come due is an incentive to make the most of the college opportunity, and not waste those years on endless binges of smoking weed and "college experiences".

      Plus, when you say "grants" I'm going to assume that you mean "taxpayer-backed grants". Thank you no, my taxes are plenty high already. Pull your own weight, whippersnapper.

      1. inmypjs Silver badge

        Re: Nurture

        "Knowing that those loans will come due"

        Except they don't come due till you are earning whatever the threshold is - how is diminished return for working harder anything but a disincentive?

        1. Overflowing Stack

          Re: Nurture

          urm.. you just described the tax system.

      2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Nurture

        Knowing that those loans will come due is an incentive to make the most of the college opportunity

        Not necessarily, rightly or wrongly a lot of people assume that they'll be paid by some future employer, or forgotten/ignored.

        Plus, when you say "grants" I'm going to assume that you mean "taxpayer-backed grants". Thank you no, my taxes are plenty high already. Pull your own weight, whippersnapper.

        I'm no whippersnapper, I graduated as an electronics engineer 35-odd years ago when I paid no tuition fees, and received a (taxpayer-funded) grant. The taxes I've paid since then, thanks to the advantages of that education, have more than covered the grant costs. I'd argue whether splashing 45m on battery tech is a better use of taxpayers' money than spending it on grants. There's also no need to assume grants are paid by taxpayers, what about companies (Dyson?) sponsoring graduates?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Nurture

          "I graduated as an electronics engineer 35-odd years ago when I paid no tuition fees"

          Me too ... and we would have both started paying income tax at 30% (actually, think you probably got a couple of years at 33%) .... so I'm always amused by the way current students moan about having to pay 29% on income over 21k.

      3. Mark 110 Silver badge

        Re: Nurture

        "endless binges of smoking weed and "college experiences"."

        Didn't do me as much harm as it should have done. All those FTSE100 companies that employee me really don't know what a reprobate they have in their midst . . .

        Seriously though. How did a thread on research funding turn into - a students smoke weed thread. What the fuck has weed got to do with it. In my experience undergrads smoke weed and fukc about. Post grads (ie the resarch people) don't.

        Get a grip!!

      4. goldcd

        On that basis

        Charge for all education.

        Or looking at it another way. We each get one vote (all are equal) - but taxation isn't equal. If we're expected to put up with progressive taxation, the very least we should expect is that the money is spent on making people as productive as possible.

      5. Vic

        Re: Nurture

        I think part of the beneficial nature of borrowing money for tuition is the student having some personal interest in the proposition... "skin in the game", if you will

        Then we would all benefit from those loans being forgiven to students graduating with good results...

        Vic.

  3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    So where would that leave developing a sugar solution fuel cell?

    Innovative? Very

    Needs improvement? Definitely

    Potential? Huge for vehicles or other applications, as it's an easily made room temperature storable liquid

    Sustainable? Blighty grows sugar beet, as does the rest of Europe. Sugar can can also be used and the UK has some of the worlds biggest sugar processing companies.

    But it's not a battery. So while in principal it could practically replace petrol in the supply chain without the chain missing a beat what do you think's going to happen?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So where would that leave developing a sugar solution fuel cell?

      Exactly where it should be: nowhere. For most of the temperate countries, it is almost impossible to achieve the energy break-even point with biofuels grown with the modern, fertiliser- and energy-intensive techniques. The energy and fuel inputs needed are simply too high. In all developed countries, biofuel production is viable only due to massive subsidies, and makes a net-negative environmental impact. The equarion is a bit different in tropical countries, where you get more sunlight and more crops per year - but even there the major contributor to making biofuels viable is the low cost of labour.

      If you are serious about environmental issues, then direct renewable electricity generation and storage is the way to go for most temperate countries

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: So where would that leave developing a sugar solution fuel cell?

        "If you are serious about environmental issues, then direct renewable electricity generation and storage is the way to go for most temperate countries"

        If you actually do your homework about the _true_ lifecycle costs of windpower and environmental costs of solar PV, you'd say:

        "If you are serious about environmental issues, then Nuclear power generation is the way to go for most temperate countries, preferably using safer generation 5 MSR systems - but as they're not commercially developed yet we'll have to make do with existing tech until they are."

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So where would that leave developing a sugar solution fuel cell?

          If you are serious about environmental issues, then Nuclear power generation is the way to go for most temperate countries, preferably using safer generation 5 MSR systems ..

          The main issue with nuclear power at this point is not really the short-term reactor safety: we have mostly figured out how to buid reactors which are intrinsicaly safe, and how to contain the failure when they fail even when they should not.

          On the other hand, we still have no idea how to deal with the long-lived radioactive waste fission reactors produce. Our best approach so far is to try to contain the stuff as best ad we could, and pray that whoever has to deal with it few hundred years down the road has a better clue than we do. We may be able to develop the technology for burning this waste using either nuclear reactors or particle accelerators - but so far we did not, and no country seem to consider this a priority.

          I therefore have to respectfully doubt your assessment of the environmsntal cost of nuclear energy. At this point, its true cost has to be considered to be unknown.

          1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

            Re: So where would that leave developing a sugar solution fuel cell?

            The other issue with nuclear, oh what the hell, I'm old enough to call it atomic energy, is: it is still basically the same as mining fossil fuels, of which there is a finite amount, and burning them. So at best, a mid term solution. Short term if you use a larger timescale.

            Our energy-based technical civilisation started around the 1850ies; that's some 5 generations ago. And it has managed to use up a substantial amount of all the fuel there is already.

            Civilisation as we know it goes back some 6,000 years, or 200 generations. The date for "close enough to us to be called man" beings is usually given as roundabout 200,000 years ago; roughly 6,700 generations.

            Atomic energy might get us another 5 generations of technical civilisation, and then what?

            On the other hand, we have (indirect) access to a fusion reactor that has been running for some 5bn years already, and is good to run for another 5bn years. For all practical purposes, that's as close to "forever" as it gets. Long term, and I mean long term, tapping in that energy source is the only option. And now is the time to start.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: So where would that leave developing a sugar solution fuel cell?

              Atomic energy might get us another 5 generations of technical civilisation, and then what?

              You are correct as far as the principle is concerned: fission nuclear energy is a finite, fossil resource. You are way off for the time scale. Already the known, ecinomically extractable U-235 reserves are sufficient to sustain our present energy needs for 10 generations. With breeding techniques (which we already have, but so far had no reason to refine and develop), we can buy another factor of 10x. Finally by using Thorium-based fuel cycles (which again we already have in principle, but would need to fine-tune and refine), we can make the presently-known extractable resources last for over 1000 generations.

              Fission-based nuclear energy has a lot of problems, which will likely kill it off within a few decades as less problematic alternatives are developed - but fuel availability is not one of them.

          2. cbars

            Re: So where would that leave developing a sugar solution fuel cell?

            "we still have no idea how to deal with the long-lived radioactive waste fission reactors produce"

            Sure we do!

            Bury it.

            I'm serious, that works. The planet it massive and we can keep it away from ourselves, who cares about a few worms 2 miles underground? The damage we do to ecosystems globally by not using carbon neutral generation is on such a vast scale that I find the 'oh no, nuclear waste' argument ludicrous.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: So where would that leave developing a sugar solution fuel cell?

              Sure we do!

              Bury it.

              I'm serious, that works.

              But does it really?

              This waste will remain deadly dangerous for hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of years. As a technological species, we have exactly zero experience creating anything that lasts even a tenth of this time. It would be an epitome of hubris to pretend that any deep geological repository we create will contain the waste for long enough, except by an incredibly lucky accident.

              1. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Commswonk Silver badge

    Groan...

    ...existing battery manufacturers would be attracted to the UK...

    No; they will manufacture wherever it is cheapest to manufacture.

    Producing them locally could lower costs as well as improve safety – lookin' at you Samsung Galaxy Note 7 – because flammable batteries wouldn't have to be transported as far.

    I know petrol & diesel are flammable but by and large they have no reputation for spontaneous combustion. If I am to be forced to have a battery - powered car I don't want flammable batteries that can self - ignite just for the hell of it.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Groan...

      "because flammable batteries wouldn't have to be transported as far."

      Solid state LI-Ion batteries don't catch fire. You can chop a fully charged one up and it won't burn. You can overdischarge one and it won't gas up.

      There are already some on the market. the limit they have is lower absolute charge/discharge rates but this is improving all the time.

      In the meantime you can avoid Li-Ion battery fires by not allowing the to discharge past about 30%, as it's from this point they seem to start developing lithium dendrites.

      1. handleoclast Silver badge

        Re: Groan...

        [Technical note: a battery consists of two or more cells wired in series, despite the fact that common usage is to refer to cells as batteries. This post is written with the technical usage, not the common usage.]

        From something I read (courtesy of Big Clive), the actual problem is copper dendrites in the separator when a cell is reverse charged to more than 12%. Below that copper dendrites don't form and any lithium migration is harmless and largely reversible. Above 12% and it eventually leads to failure (possibly catastrophic failure). Full discharge of a cell isn't a problem.

        It's even easy to tell if a cell has started to form copper dendrites. Fully charge it. Take it off charge, and let the voltage settle (10 minutes or so?). Then watch the voltage for several hours. If it stays constant the cell is OK. If there's any reduction, due to self-discharge, it has dendrites.

        Of course, when cells are built into a battery, then even a discharge to 30% could lead to one under-performing cell being reverse charged. But for a single cell, discharge to 0% is fine.

        Of course, I could be totally wrong about that. It was a very technical paper and I was skim-reading for the important stuff. But that was the message I got from it. Discharge a lithium cell flat and you do no significant harm (maybe a slight reduction in life). Discharge a lithium battery flat and you run the risk of buggering an under-performing cell with potentially catastrophic effects.

        See Big Clive's video which has more info and a link to the relevant paper.

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Exploding Batteries

      Your existing ICE car has another explosive device other than the Fuel. That is the lead acid battery.

      Just take the voltage regulator out of the charging network and it will go boom.

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. HieronymusBloggs Silver badge

      Re: Supercapacitors...

      "today’s upper average supercapacitor can get around 28 Wh/kg"

      How far a day could you drive on that?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Supercapacitors...

          volatile = no, super fscking scary = yes

          The ability to discharge all the cars stored energy in a few microseconds might lead to interesting failure modes that make a mere Li-Po runaway seem fun.

    2. G R Goslin

      Re: Supercapacitors...

      And petrol/diesel comes in at about 13.2KW per kilogram. If I have to lug weight around, I'll go for the lightest "fuel".

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Supercapacitors...

        "If I have to lug weight around, I'll go for the lightest "fuel"."

        Not forgetting that batteries and super capacitors don't get lighter as you use up the stored energy.

        An average petrol car is carrying about 41Kg with a full tank, Diesel at about 46Kg, and getting lighter as you drive.

  6. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

    Long timescales

    The example I give to non-scientists about long timescales is the transistor.

    The first working transistor was built in 1947 or 48. They did not make a big difference to ordinary life until the late 1960s when numerous transistors could be put onto one integrated circuit. But the fundamental physics of the transistor is the quantum mechanics developed in universities in the 1920s.

    So in this major example there is a gap of forty years between university research and practical payoff.

    I support the earlier comment by Phil O'Sophical that the government should encourage, by paying for it, the study of STEM subjects.

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: Long timescales

      I support the earlier comment by Phil O'Sophical that the government should encourage, by paying for it, the study of STEM subjects.

      I would agree if I could be certain that the fruits of that expenditure remained in the UK and that they weren't sold off to a foreign investor (company) at what amounted to less than cost price.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Long timescales

        I support the earlier comment by Phil O'Sophical that the government should encourage, by paying for it, the study of STEM subjects.

        I would agree if I could be certain that the fruits of that expenditure remained in the UK and that they weren't sold off to a foreign investor (company) at what amounted to less than cost price.

        There is only one way to achieve this goal. It is to make sure that the fruits of the expenditure are nil and have no application or value. Protectionist policies in science and technology usually have the same outcome they have in business and trade: they kill that they are trying to support.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They should invest this in women for stem subjects, if anyone is going to invent a longer lasting battery it's them.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. uncommon_sense
    Meh

    Toshiba Supercharge Battery, where are you?

    Some time about the early naughties the Toshiba Supercharge Battery was advertised as the new sliced bread, and Toshiba said that in a year from that we would hear much more about it.

    What happened to it?

    Charging to 80 percent in 5 minutes sounds attractive.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Toshiba Supercharge Battery, where are you?

      Charging to 80 percent in 5 minutes sounds attractive.

      It does, until everyone does it. Then we need 10 new Hinckley Point C's to cope.

    2. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: Toshiba Supercharge Battery, where are you?

      Some time about the early naughties the Toshiba Supercharge Battery was advertised as the new sliced bread, and Toshiba said that in a year from that we would hear much more about it.

      What happened to it?

      Rule of Research (1): Always be on the verge of a breakthrough; that way there is a chance that funds will keep flowing. Admit that you are getting nowhere and funding will dry up in an instant.

      Rule of Research (2): Like shares, past performance is no guide to future performance; a doubling of battery energy density over a 10 year period does not mean that a further doubling will be forthcoming if another 10 years elapses.

      Think "cold fusion" and ask why it hasn't happened yet...

      1. Schultz
        Boffin

        Think "cold fusion" and ask why it hasn't happened yet...

        What do you mean it hasn't happened yet? It's real, it was published in 2005, it's inexpensive, it fits on your desktop and, unfortunately, it's completely useless for energy generation. The trick was to gently heat a pyroelectric crystal to generate a large electric fields on a very sharp electrode tip. Use the field to accelerate deuterium ions onto a deuterated sample and you get helium-3 plus neutrons.

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Think "cold fusion" and ask why it hasn't happened yet...

          "What do you mean it hasn't happened yet? It's real, it was published in 2005, it's inexpensive, it fits on your desktop and, unfortunately, it's completely useless for energy generation. "

          Intriguing. I've always wondered what happens if instead of scaling up these things you scaled down, and saw the effects of field concentration on very small, very sharp electrodes.

          IIRC there are a number of diagnostic systems that could be a lot more manageable with a "neutron generator" if it was productive enough.

          The trouble is most people with an interest in such devices want to place inside a lump of fissile material, making it one of those difficult to discuss subjects.

          Still, y'know, wow. Fusion, at room temp. On a desktop. Who saw that one coming?

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Think "cold fusion" and ask why it hasn't happened yet...

            "Fusion, at room temp. On a desktop. Who saw that one coming?"

            Farnsworth, for starters. The problem has always been that it doesn't generate more energy out than went in.

  9. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    TBH I'd look at integrating PV panels into vehicles & improving regenerative braking.

    Let's be real, there is no f**king way the UK is going to build (or afford to build) the staggeringly large amount of infrastructure needed to move to electric cars. That being the case something that does put some charge in the battery is better than nothing.

  10. kmac499

    Assault on Battery (sorree)

    C'mon guys Li-on for vehicles is pretty well done and others are way ahead.

    For a £45mill (peanuts) blue sky bet it's gotta to be something wacky from the Univ of Men\Women in Sheds. Neighbourhood storage flow cells perhaps, to smooth the grid and charge the cars ?

  11. John Robson Silver badge

    Really?

    > She admitted that a "good portion" of the research will "fail".

    Research doesn't fail, unless it isn't published.

    That's the only real failure possible - a failure to share what you learnt. OK, so you might not have learned how to put a a GJ of energy into something the size of a microSD card which can accept or release all that energy in a fraction of a second...

    But you will have ruled things out.

  12. gc73

    This reminds me of the time when...

    I look forward to the financial plug being pulled just as the technology is starting to be proven and the IP being sold off elsewhere, who will later dominate the market.

  13. Schultz
    Boffin

    The same research everywhere

    Try a google search for 'battery research center' and you will find hundreds of research centers looking for a better next battery generation. All of those are well funded and try to get the best research out of the best researchers. Add the research in industry and you'll realize that this 45 million initiative is small fry.

    Why don't they try to fund broader basic research? Combine the academic freedom of Oxford in the 80s ("Although the now-commonplace lithium ion battery was developed based on research by Oxford University in the 1980s ...") with some decent support for startups and may be the next breakthrough research will result in some British manufacturing. 45 million is a lot of money if you don't throw it into the fashionable billion-dollar topic of the hour.

  14. cb7

    Facts?

    The .gov linked page had me reading until I got to this bit:

    "...power the automotive and energy revolution where, already, the UK is leading the world"

    I'm all for investment in research and innovation, but I really can't see how that statement could be true. Can someone please enlighten me?

    I see companies like Toyota, who have had the industry's leading hybrid system on the market for more than 10 years. I see the likes of Tesla and Nissan who have been leading on delivering somewhat practical fully electrically propelled vehicles.

    Where's this mythical world leading UK contribution? Are they talking about the Congestion Charge Zone? And the recently announced expiry date for internal combustion engine cars?

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: Facts?

      Facts, facts, facts...

      The UK has been a world leader in all the fields since time immemorial per definitionem!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where do I apply?

    Had some ideas to make a new type of battery using the known physics of oxygen ion exchange in HTSCs to generate a potential difference between two different materials.

    Advantages: can be made in thin layers and is "fail safe".. if the cooling goes away it shuts down gracefully with no nasty thermal runaway as it would simply quench one small section of the whole.

    In fact ion exchange through Y2O3 stabilized zirconia is quite stable and all the other materials are inexpensive oxides.

    Cooling to 119K is relatively cheap and the battery would be readily shippable by air as it has no "effective" energy available if not in its sealed cryocooler.

    Also relevant: can be upgraded as/when higher temperature materials become available commercially.

    Related paper: (not mine alas).. https://www.nature.com/articles/srep16325

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Where do I apply?

      "Related paper: (not mine alas).. https://www.nature.com/articles/srep16325"

      Paper states

      "Amongst a variety of materials, LiTi2O4 (LTO) is a unique candidate for our experiment with the use of a Li-ion battery structure because LTO exhibits superconductivity with a critical temperature as high as 13.7 K"

      That's significantly below LH2, which is already viewed as a deep cryogen IE it's a massive PITA to handle and expensive.

      You'll need a much higher temp material to make this work. But finding what that would be, and testing would probably be in scope for such a grant.

  16. handleoclast Silver badge

    Robert Murray-Smith

    Is a guy constantly demonstrating new battery technologies he invents in youtube videos. I'm still trying to work out if this is an elaborate joke, a scam, or the real thing.

    His channel.

    On balance, I think he's for real. Then a video appears where he makes a supercapacitor from old tyres. Although he does have a convincing explanation for why he does things like that. It's not the best supercapacitor going, but there's a problem disposing of old tyres. Turning them into something useful is therefore a good idea.

  17. RonWheeler

    Infrastructure

    Governments should be investing in backbone nuclear power stations like crazy, not risky gimmick projects.

    Genuinely sorry for next generation who will never know the joys of the internal combustion engine. Crunch times they a'comin.

    1. Timto

      Re: Infrastructure

      Indeed. Build 10 new nuclear power stations that are designed to generate Hydrogen fuel on the side.

      Convert all busses in London to Hydrogen fuel. Convert all taxis. Then ban all petrol and diesel vehicles from central London. Then roll it out to all other cities in the UK. Once the infrastructure is in place for hydrogen vehicles, completely ban new petrol and diesel vehicles. If you have vehicles that can be filled up with hydrogen, the way you stop for petrol, there becomes no excuse to use Internal combustion engines any more.

      Creating a market for Hydrogen fuel will allow the Nuclear power stations to run without subsidies. And will get rid of all traffic pollution in city centres.

      It's all proven technology, just needs the scale and infrastructure to make it commercially viable.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Infrastructure

        It would be a lot cheaper and safer to generate hydrogen from renewables, The new generation of Nuclear looks rotten to the core.

        1. Timto

          Re: Infrastructure

          It wouldn't, it would be extremely wasteful.

          To generate hydrogen efficiently you need very high temperatures, and the best place to get them is in a nuclear power station.

          The Hinckley point reactor is going to be expensive because it's a one off station.

          If you had a fleet of new reactors, all to the same design, costs would be lower.

          Add the fact that they are generating car-fuel overnight when electricity demand is low, and they would turn a profit. The government would build them and then sell them off.

  18. Mips
    Childcatcher

    The BIG issue

    It would be great to have better batteries but this is not the solution they still require charging.

    It is not just the generation capacity it is the distribution network which is inadequate. Recent estimates show we need six additional nuclear power stations at a cost of £120bn. The distribution network has to be replaced or supplemented every street in the country will have to be dug up with huge disruption at a cost of £200bn. That is £16k for every electric vehicle. Then there is the question of rollout. Will this be another broadband debacle?

    Would we not be better off going hydrogen and spending this money to make this work?

  19. This post has been deleted by its author

  20. Dave 15

    Wrong direction

    Electric vehicles and batteries are a dead end requiring too many exotic materials and speculative research.

    A simpler solution is with us now, cheap, easy to make, reliable.

    Steam... or to be more precise fireless steam.

    A container full of very hot water under pressure.

    Tap off the steam and use in a simple or compound reciprocating engine (or maybe a turbine... doesn't matter). As a storage medium it is reasonably energy dense. It takes very little time to refill. The technology is Victorian and simple. I am pretty sure we could even create a reasonably safe container that doesn't break completely in an accident.

    Topping up can be done in a repurposed petrol station.

    Could use a heating element to ensure the (insulated) container stays warm at night.

    The steam can be generated anyway - nuclear, solar etc etc

    The French have an 'aircar' for city use already that works from the same sort of pressure as tyres.

    Why try and invent something new when there is an existing viable solution?

  21. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    No investment ...

    Research is all well and good, but without any investment bank or equivalent the technology will simply be sold to a (foreign) company that is willing to fund the process of getting it mass-producible and into the market. Just like so many other things that were invented in the UK but you see only in foreign branded products.

  22. Jim84

    MSR Nuclear Ammonia

    If your nuclear reactor runs hotter than 500 degrees Celsius it can be used to produce ammonia cheaper than an energy equivalent amount of petrol. Power cars using that (also aeroplanes, ships, trucks).

    http://energyfromthorium.com/2011/10/29/nuclear-ammonia/

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