Nikola Corporation to Unveil Game-Changing Battery Cell Technology at Nikola World 2020


Nikola 1A download

Technology encompasses world’s first free-standing / self-supported electrode with a cathode that has 4x the energy density of lithium-ion

Nikola Corporation is excited to announce details of its new battery that has a record energy density of 1,100 watt-hours per kg on the material level and 500 watt-hours per kg on the production cell level. The Nikola prototype cell is the first battery that removes binder material and current collectors, enabling more energy storage within the cell. It is also expected to pass nail penetration standards, thus reducing potential vehicle fires.

  • Technology encompasses world’s first free-standing / self-supported electrode with a cathode that has 4x the energy density of lithium-ion
  • Achieves 2,000 cycles
  • Cell technology expected to cost 50% less to produce than lithium-ion
  • Could drive down the cost of hydrogen and double the range of battery-electric vehicles worldwide
  • Nikola will share IP with all other OEM’s around the world that contribute.

This battery technology could increase the range of current EV passenger cars from 300 miles up to 600 miles with little or no increase to battery size and weight. The technology is also designed to operate in existing vehicle conditions. Moreover, cycling the cells over 2,000 times has shown acceptable end-of-life performance.

Nikola’s new cell technology is environmentally friendly and easy to recycle. While conventional lithium-ion cells contain elements that are toxic and expensive, the new technology will have a positive impact on the earth’s resources, landfills and recycling plants.

This month, Nikola entered into a letter of intent to acquire a world-class battery engineering team to help bring the new battery to pre-production. Through this acquisition, Nikola will add 15 PhDs and five master’s degree team members. Due to confidentiality and security reasons, additional details of the acquisition will not be disclosed until Nikola World 2020.

“This is the biggest advancement we have seen in the battery world,” said Trevor Milton, CEO, Nikola Motor Company. “We are not talking about small improvements; we are talking about doubling your cell phone battery capacity. We are talking about doubling the range of BEVs and hydrogen-electric vehicles around the world.”

“Nikola is in discussions with customers for truck orders that could fill production slots for more than ten years and propel Nikola to become the top truck manufacturer in the world in terms of revenue. Now the question is why not share it with the world?” said Milton.

Nikola 1A download

 

Nikola Reveals Range of Hydrogen Fuel Cell and Battery-Electric Vehicles

Nikola will show the batteries charging and discharging in front of the crowd at Nikola World. The date of Nikola World will be announced soon but is expected to be fall of 2020.

Points include:

  • Nikola’s battery electric trucks could now drive 800 miles fully loaded between charges
  • Nikola trucks could weigh 5,000 lbs. less than the competition if same battery size was kept
  • Nikola’s hydrogen-electric fuel cell trucks could surpass 1,000 miles between stops and top off in 15 minutes
  • World’s first free-standing electrode automotive battery
  • Energy density up to 1,100 watt-hours per kg on a material level and 500 watt-hours per kg on a production cell level including; casing, terminals and separator — more than double current lithium-ion battery cells
  • Cycled over 2,000 times with acceptable end-of-life performance
  • 40% reduction in weight compared to lithium-ion cells
  • 50% material cost reduction per kWh compared to lithium-ion batteries

Due to the impact this technology will have on society and emissions, Nikola has taken an unprecedented position to share the IP with all other OEM’s, even competitors, that contribute to the Nikola IP license and new consortium.

OEMs or other partners can email batteries@nikolamotor.com for more information.

ABOUT NIKOLA CORPORATION
Nikola Corporation designs and manufactures hydrogen-electric vehicles, electric vehicle drivetrains, vehicle components, energy storage systems, and hydrogen stations. Nikola is led by its visionary CEO Trevor Milton. The company is privately held and headquartered in Arizona. For more information, visit www.nikolamotor.com.

Scientists want to use mountains like batteries to store energy – ‘MGES’


 

Researchers propose a gravity-based system for long-term energy storage.

 

  • A new paper outlines using the the Mountain Gravity Energy Storage (or MGES) for long-term energy storage.
  • This approach can be particularly useful in remote, rural and island areas.
  • Gravity and hydropower can make this method a successful storage solution. 

Can we use mountains as gigantic batteries for long-term energy storage? Such is the premise of new research published in the journal Energy.

The particular focus of the study by Julian Hunt of IIASA (Austria-based International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis) and his colleagues is how to store energy in locations that have less energy demand and variable weather conditions that affect renewable energy sources.

The team looked at places like small islands and remote places that would need less than 20 megawatts of capacity for energy storage and proposed a way to use mountains to accomplish the task.

Hunt and his team want to use a system dubbed Mountain Gravity Energy Storage (or MGES). MGES employes cranes positioned on the edge of a steep mountain to move sand (or gravel) from a storage site at the bottom to a storage site at the top.

Like in a ski-lift, a motor/generator would transport the storage vessels, storing potential energy. Electricity is generated when the sand is lowered back from the upper site. 

 

How much energy is created? The system takes advantage of gravity, with the energy output being proportional to the sand’s mass, gravity and the height of the mountain. Some energy would be lost due in the loading and unloading process.

Hydropower can also be employed from any kind of mountainous water source, like river streams. When it’s available, water would be used to fill storage containers instead of sand or gravel, generating electricity in that fashion.

Utilizing the mountain, hydropower can be invoked from any height of the system, making it more flexible than usual hydropower, explains the press release from IIASA.

There are specific advantages to using sand, however, as Hunt explained:

“One of the benefits of this system is that sand is cheap and, unlike water, it does not evaporate – so you never lose potential energy and it can be reused innumerable times,” said Hunt. “This makes it particularly interesting for dry regions.”

Energy From Mountains | Renewable Energy Solutions

Where would be the ideal places to install such a system? The researchers are thinking of locations with high mountains, like the Himalayas, Alps, and Rocky Mountains or islands like Hawaii, Cape Verde, Madeira, and the Pacific Islands that have mountainous terrains.

The scientists use the Molokai Island in Hawaii as an example in their paper, outlining how all of the island’s energy needs can be met with wind, solar, batteries and their MGES setup.

The MGES system.

“It is important to note that the MGES technology does not replace any current energy storage options but rather opens up new ways of storing energy and harnessing untapped hydropower potential in regions with high mountains,” Hunt noted.

Check out the new study “Mountain Gravity Energy Storage: A new solution for closing the gap between existing short- and long-term storage technologies”.

NCM 811 Almost Account For A Fifth Of EV Li-Ion Deployment In China


China is well advanced in switching to the NCM 811 type of lithium-ion cathode for EV batteries. 

The new NCM 811 lithium-ion battery chemistry takes the Chinese passenger xEV (BEV, PHEV, HEV) market like a storm.

According to Adamas Intelligence, In September, NCM 811 was responsible for 18% of passenger xEV battery deployment (by capacity).

The NCM 811 is a low cobalt-content cathode (nickel:cobalt:manganese at a ratio of 8:1:1).

The expansion is tremendous compared to 1% in January, 4% in June and 13% in August.

NCM 811 cells combines high-energy density with affordability (lower content of expensive cobalt), which probably is enough for most manufacturers to make the switch from NCM 523 and LFP (often bypassing NCM 622).

“In China, for the second month in a row, NCM 811 was second-only to NCM 523 by capacity deployed, while the once-popular NCM 622 now finds itself in fifth spot with a mere 5% of the market.

In the pursuit of lower costs and higher energy density, a growing number of automakers in China have seemingly opted to bypass NCM 622, shifting instead straight from LFP or NCM 523 cathode chemistries into high-nickel NCM 811.

Since January 2019, the market share of NCM 811 in China’s passenger EV market has rapidly increased from less than 1% to 18% and shows little signs of slowing its ingress. Outside of China, however, automakers have been slow to adopt NCM 811 to-date but we expect to see the chemistry make inroads in Europe and North America by as early as next year.”

NCM 811 share globally is also growing and in September it was at 7%.

The other leading low cobalt chemistry is Tesla/Panasonic’s NCA.

Source: Adamas Intelligence

Answer to Renewable Power’s Top Problem Emerges in the ‘Australian Outback’


From Bloomberg Energy

The answer to the renewable energy industry’s biggest challenge is emerging in the Australian outback.

Early next year, one of the first power projects that combine solar and wind generation with battery storage is planning to start up in northern Queensland state.

The Kennedy Energy Park, just outside the sleepy town of Hughendon, will combine 43 megawatts of wind and 20 megawatts of solar with a 2-megawatt Tesla Inc. lithium-ion battery.

Hybrid projects like Kennedy aim to tackle a problem faced by climate change challengers, and grid planners, across the globe: how to firm-up intermittent renewable power so that the lights stay on when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow.

A glimpse of the future is underway in far North Queensland

It could also be a precursor of what’s to come in the next decade. Plunging green technology costs are opening up markets and suppliers are seeking new avenues to combat falling margins.

Australia, India, and the U.S. already have a combined pipeline of more than 4,000 megawatts of hybrid, or co-located projects, according to BloombergNEF analysis.

Kennedy Energy Park’s location is one of the best on the planet for pairing a strong and consistent solar resource with a highly complementary wind profile, said Roger Price, chief executive officer of Windlab Ltd., the company leading the development, along with Eurus Energy Holdings.

“When you start to combine wind and solar in an intelligent, optimized way, then you can provide much greater penetration of renewables into the grid,” Price said in a phone interview, adding that the facility expected to start up in two or three months.

Price said combining wind and solar allowed the project to save on connection costs to the network, while enhancing grid utilization because the wind generally blew at night when solar wasn’t available. In addition, Kennedy has potential to supply more power to the grid than its 50 megawatt transmission line can handle, so the battery will allow that excess power to be stored.

A range of co-located projects have followed in Kennedy’s wake, with 690 megawatts worth of capacity commissioned across the country, BNEF said in a report last month. In January, a joint-venture between Lacour Energy and a unit of Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co. won approval for the A$250 million ($170 million) Kondinin complex in Western Australia, which will combine battery storage with 120 megawatts of wind power and 50 megawatts of solar.

French company Neoen SA has even bigger ambitions: It’s Goyder South project in South Australia, which is scheduled to begin construction in 2021, is on a scale not yet seen for a renewables project in Australia. It includes 1,200 megawatts of wind power and 600 megawatts of solar backed by 900 megawatts of battery storage.

It’s not only Australia that is developing the concept. In the U.S., NextEra Energy Inc. is working on two projects that combine the three technologies, while Vattenfall AB is working on a “triple-scoop” project in the Netherlands believed to be the first of its kind in Europe.

India is also keen on the idea, with the government putting policies in place to encourage co-located projects in a number of states, according to BNEF.

“Whenever we are kicking off a photovoltaic or an onshore wind project in the future, we will always consider whether we should do it as co-located,” Alfred Hoffman, a vice president at Vattenfall’s wind unit, said at a BNEF summit last month in London.

There are various constraints to developing such integrated projects. In Europe, for instance, most large-scale wind and solar is procured through auctions, which aren’t currently designed for co-located projects, according to Cecilia L’Ecluse, a solar analyst at BNEF in London.

There can also be permitting issues, such as Germany’s ban on using farmland for solar, while in the U.S., developers may not be facing the same grid access challenges, so the savings incentive might not be as strong, she said.

Windlab’s Price acknowledged that combining technologies would only work in certain locations and, in a modern well-connected grid, wind and solar don’t necessarily need to be on the same site to deliver combined benefits.

The Kennedy project has seen the start of commercial operation delayed into 2020 due to hold ups in getting the necessary approval to connect to the grid.

It could be in developing countries where the concept could make the biggest difference, said Price, who’s also working on an 80 megawatt multi-technology project in Kenya. It’s also a particularly pressing problem in countries like Australia, where a number of aging coal-fired power stations are scheduled to retire over the next decade, leaving renewables to fill the gap.

“In the future, we won’t have these big fossil-fuel plants to keep the grid stable. That’s an additional task that renewables will have to take on,” said Bo Svoldgaard, senior vice president of innovation and concepts at Vestas Wind Systems A/S, which partnered Windlab on the Kennedy project and supplied the turbines. “The fossil fuel plants will disappear. Maybe not tomorrow, or in two years time, but they will disappear.”

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Flow Batteries Struggle in 2019 as Lithium-Ion Marches On h


Save for a few rare announcements, the promising technology class has gone quiet.

October’s SoftBank-led investment in iron flow battery startup ESSrepresented an unusual event in 2019: a piece of good news for the flow battery sector. The $30 million cash injection was a rare sign that there may still be life in an energy storage technology class that had almost faded from view in recent months.

Leading players such as Sumitomo Electric and Dalian Rongke Power, the latter of which once boasted the world’s largest vanadium flow battery project, have gone silent. EnSync Energy Systems pivoted away from flow batteries last year and folded in March.

CellCube Energy Storage Systems has also run into problems this year. In October it advised shareholders that “each division is suffering from a lack of working capital” and added that management was “reviewing strategic alternatives focused on maximizing shareholder value.”

Go Big: This factory produces vanadium redox-flow batteries destined for the world’s largest battery site: a 200-megawatt, 800-megawatt-hour storage station in China’s Liaoning province.

Even those companies still touting contract wins in 2019 have hardly set the world on fire. RedT Energy installed Australia’s largest commercial energy storage system, a 1-megawatt-hour system at Monash University, but more recently announced a merger with Avalon following reported losses.

Meanwhile, UniEnergy Technology’s sole deal-related press release this year was to celebrate the commissioning of a 7.5-kilowatt, 30-kilowatt-hour flow battery in Brussels.

Despite this, a smattering of players, including Avalon, Lockheed Martin and U.S. Vanadium, remain bullish. And Dan Finn-Foley, head of energy storage at Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, cautions against writing the sector off just yet.

“We haven’t seen much activity from the flow battery space in terms of deployments or major announcements,” he acknowledged, “but there are key steps happening behind the scenes.”

Researchers advancing flow battery technology are either partnering with companies with large balance sheets or securing insurance to back up their claims of long system lifetimes and low degradation, he said.

“The next steps will be continued pilot programs and strategic targeting of favorable market niches, all critical stepping stones toward true commercialization,” Finn-Foley said.

Image: Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries 

Flow battery vendors could benefit from state-level 100 percent clean or renewable energy policies in the U.S., Finn-Foley noted, since it is remains unclear whether lithium-ion batteries alone can meet storage needs beyond durations of approximately eight hours.

Flow batteries are seen as ideal for large-scale, long-duration storage because they can store large amounts of energy using scalable tanks of relatively cheap electrolyte. The problem is that nobody seems to need this long-duration capacity just yet.

Finn-Foley said the biggest unknowns for the flow battery sector “are the timing of when these long-duration needs will emerge and how low vendors will be able to drive costs by then with few other opportunities to scale.”

This is emerging as a significant issue in 2019. While flow battery technology is waiting for prime time, its main competitor, lithium-ion, is already racing ahead on scale and cost-competitiveness thanks to the growth of the electric vehicle industry.

In March, QY Research Group predicted the global redox flow battery market would be worth $370 million by 2025, based on a roughly 14 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2018.

For comparison, a May study by Prescient & Strategic Intelligence estimated the lithium-ion market would be worth close to $107 billionby 2024, with a CAGR of almost 22 percent.

Even ignoring the fact that the lithium-ion industry is on a quest to use lower-cost materials, it is hard to see how flow batteries will be able to compete on price against such a thoroughly commoditized rival.

The state of play was perhaps best summed up by Rebecca Kujawa, chief financial officer and executive vice president of finance at NextEra Energy, during an earnings call in October.

Asked by Pavel Molchanov, an analyst at Raymond James & Associates, whether NextEra had found any storage technologies other than lithium-ion that are worth commercializing, she said: “We always remain technology-agnostic.”

But she added: “What we continue to see, and what we are currently signing contracts for with our customers, is predominantly lithium-ion. Those producing lithium-ion batteries are investing in manufacturing scale, which is producing significant cost improvements.”

Kujawa concluded: “In the middle part of the next decade, you’re talking about a $5 to $7 per megawatt-hour added to get to a nearly firm wind or solar resource, and that’s a pretty attractive price.

Image: 100% Renewable Energy

To beat that, you’d have to see a pretty big step change in where some of these other technologies are.”

Post-Lithium Technology: High-Energy-Density Next-Generation Rechargeable Batteries


High-energy-density polymeric cathode for fast-charge sodium- and multivalent-ion batteries.

Next-generation batteries will probably see the replacement of lithium ions by more abundant and environmentally benign alkali metal or multivalent ions. A major challenge, however, is the development of stable electrodes that combine high energy densities with fast charge and discharge rates. In the journal Angewandte Chemie, US and Chinese scientists report a high-performance cathode made of an organic polymer to be used in low-cost, environmentally benign, and durable sodium-ion batteries.

Lithium-ion batteries are the state-of-the-art technology for portable devices, energy storage systems, and electric vehicles, the development of which has been awarded with this year’s Nobel prize.

Nevertheless, next-generation batteries are expected to provide higher energy densities, better capacities, and the usage of cheaper, safer, and more environmentally benign materials. New battery types that are most explored employ essentially the same rocking-chair charging-discharging technology as the lithium battery, but the lithium-ion is substituted with cheap metal ions such as sodium, magnesium, and aluminum ions.

Unfortunately, this substitution brings along major adjustments to the electrode materials.

Organic compounds are favorable as electrode materials because, for one, they do not contain harmful and expensive heavy metals, and they can be adapted to different purposes. Their disadvantage is that they dissolve in liquid electrolytes, which makes electrodes inherently unstable.

Chunsheng Wang and his team from the University of Maryland, USA, and an international team of scientists have introduced an organic polymer as a high-capacity, fast-charging, and insoluble material for battery cathodes.

For the sodium ion, the polymer outperformed current polymeric and inorganic cathodes in capacity delivery and retention, and for multivalent magnesium and aluminum ions, the data did not lag far behind, according to the study.

As a suitable cathodic material, the scientists identified the organic compound hexaazatrinaphthalene (HATN), which has already been tested in lithium batteries and supercapacitors, where it functions as a high-energy-density cathode that rapidly intercalates lithium ions.

However, like most organic materials, HATN dissolved in the electrolyte and made the cathode unstable during cycling.

The trick was now to stabilize the material’s structure by introducing linkages between the individual molecules, the scientists explained. They obtained an organic polymer called polymeric HATN, or PHATN, which offered fast reaction kinetics and high capacities for sodium, aluminum, and magnesium ions.

After assembling the battery, the scientists tested the PHATN cathode using a high-concentrated electrolyte. They found excellent electrochemical performances for the non-lithium ions.

The sodium battery could be operated at high voltages up to 3.5 volts and maintained a capacity of more than 100 milliampere hours per gram even after 50,000 cycles, and the corresponding magnesium and aluminum batteries were close behind these competitive values, reported the authors.

The researchers envision these polymeric pyrazine-based cathodes (pyrazine is the organic substance upon which HATN is based; it is an aromatic benzol-like, nitrogen-rich organic substance with a fruity flavor) to be employed in environmentally benign, high-energy-density, fast and ultrastable next generation rechargeable batteries.

Reference: “A Pyrazine‐Based Polymer for Fast‐Charge Batteries” by Dr. Minglei Mao, Prof. Chao Luo, Travis P. Pollard, Singyuk Hou, Dr. Tao Gao, Dr. Xiulin Fan, Chunyu Cui, Jinming Yue, Yuxin Tong, Gaojing Yang, Tao Deng, Prof. Ming Zhang, Prof. Jianmin Ma, Prof. Liumin Suo, Dr. Oleg Borodin and Prof. Chunsheng Wang, 30 September 2019, Angewandte Chemie.
DOI: 10.1002/anie.201910916

Dr. Chunsheng Wang holds the Robert Franklin and Frances Riggs Wright Distinguished Chair in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA. His group’s research interests span the development and improvement of nonflammable water-in-salt, all-fluorinated or solid electrolytes, and organic active materials for alkali-ion and multivalent batteries.

The Future Of Lithium Batteries, According To Their Co-Inventor – A Podcast


Nearly all your devices run on lithium batteries. They have revolutionised the way we use, manufacture and charge our devices. Here’s a Nobel Prizewinner on his part in their invention – and their future.

British-born scientist M. Stanley Whittingham, of Binghamton University, was one of three scientists who won the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work developing lithium-ion batteries.

Maybe you know exactly what a lithium-ion battery is but even if you don’t, chances are you’re carrying one right now. They’re the batteries used to power mobile phones, laptops and even electric cars. 

When it comes to energy storage, they’re vastly more powerful than conventional batteries and you can recharge them many more times.

Their widespread use has driven global demand for the metal lithium – demand that Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese this week saidAustralia should do more to meet. 

Lithium ion batteries revolutionised the way we use, manufacture and charge our devices. They’re used to power mobile phones, laptops and even electric cars. 

The University of Queensland’s Mark Blaskovich, who trained in chemistry and penned this article about Whittingham’s selection for the chemistry Nobel Prize, sat down with the award-winner this week.

They discussed what the future of battery science may hold and how we might address some of the environmental and fire risks around lithium-ion batteries.

He began by asking M. Stanley Whittingham how lithium batteries differ from conventional, lead-acid batteries, like the kind you might find in your car.

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To listen on “Trust Me I’m An Expert” Follow the Link provided below).

Podcast on Trust Me I’m An Expert

Additional credits

Recording and production assistance by Thea Blaskovich

Kindergarten by Unkle Ho, from Elefant Traks.

Announcement of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2019

Nanotechnology breakthrough enables conversion of infrared light to energy


A close up of the film which combines nanocrystals and microlenses to capture infrared light and convert it to solar energy. Credit: KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Invisible infrared light accounts for half of all solar radiation on the Earth’s surface, yet ordinary solar energy systems have limited ability in converting it to power. A breakthrough in research at KTH could change that.

A research team led by Hans Ågren, professor in  at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, has developed a film that can be applied on top of ordinary , which would enable them to use  in energy conversion and increase efficiency by 10 percent or more.

“We have achieved a 10 percent increase in efficiency without yet optimizing the technology,” Ågren says. “With a little more work, we estimate that a 20 to 25 percent increase in efficiency could be achieved.”

Photosensitive materials used in solar cells, such as the mineral perovskite, have a limited ability to respond to infrared light. The solution, developed with KTH researchers Haichun Liu and Qingyun Liu, was to combine nanocrystals with chains of microlenses.

“The ability of the microlenses to concentrate light allows the nanoparticles to convert the weak IR light radiation to visible  useful for solar cells,” Ågren says.

The research progress has been patented, and presented in the scientific journal Nanoscale.

More information: Qingyun Liu et al. Microlens array enhanced upconversion luminescence at low excitation irradiance, Nanoscale (2019). DOI: 10.1039/c9nr03105g

Journal information: Nanoscale

Provided by KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Combining Blockchain and Nanotechnology to Fight Criminal Counterfeiters and Build Brand Trust


Dotz Nano 2 images

Say the word “blockchain” to businesspeople and you’re likely to be met with either a “never heard of it” or an “it’s also called bitcoin isn’t it?” response. These kinds of comments are probably well known to those involved in nanotechnology. The reality is that neither of these transformational technologies are yet widely understood, and real-world applications are only now emerging to address business opportunities.

While blockchain is perhaps best known as the technology that underpins the (somewhat notorious) cryptocurrency called bitcoin, it can be applied to many different business areas like finance, healthcare, identity and supply chain. Major IT companies, such as IBM, Microsoft, SAP and Oracle, have invested big in making blockchain usable by business enterprises for these applications, and more.

In this article, we’ll highlight how the combination of blockchain and nanotechnology can be applied to a particularly challenging aspect of supply chain management, namely the huge global criminal marketplace in counterfeit goods, which hurts business profits, impacts brand trust and undermines customer relationships.

First, a quick primer on blockchain. A blockchain is a type of database that is tamper proof. Data stored in a blockchain cannot be changed (the technical term is immutable), it can be shared among multiple users, and significantly the composition of the data stored is agreed to by multiple users of the blockchain before it can be stored (this process is known as consensus). In short, blockchains are an incredibly secure way to keep information safe and consistent among multiple participants in a business network.

blockchain-share 2READ MORE: How Blockchain Technology Could Be The Primary Key To Cybersecurity

Next, a few words about the shadowy world of counterfeit goods. Sadly, it’s a big business for criminals. Recent industry statistics suggest counterfeiting is a $1.8 Trillion endeavor that spans the globe. Just about every product is a target for counterfeiters – luxury fashion accessories, wine, auto parts, pharmaceuticals, sports apparel and consumer electronics are common examples – and this activity impacts businesses and their brands both financially and reputationally and can represent a significant safety risk for consumers.

So how is the combination of blockchain and nanotechnology being leveraged to fight the counterfeiters?

At Quantum Materials Corp. we have developed nanomaterials called quantum dots over the past decade. Quantum dots are nanoscale semiconductor particles that possess notable and extremely useful optical and electrical properties. They measure from 10 to 100 atoms in size (approximately 10,000 dots would fit across the diameter of a human hair) and they generate light when energy is applied to them or generate energy when light is applied.

QMC creates in commercial quantities quantum dots that can be finely tuned to emit predetermined wavelengths of light (in both the visible and non-visible spectrums) with the ability to create billions of unique optical signatures. Moreover, they are excitable by numerous excitation energy sources.

Our quantum dots can be incorporated into almost any physical item at time of manufacture, and then provide a unique light signature that establishes absolute product identity. These identities are impossible to copy or clone so that products enhanced by them can be verified as being genuine items and not counterfeits.

Dotz Nano 1 qLGnFZZt

 

Read About Another New Quantum Dot Security Company Dotz Nano ~ Tag – Trace – Verify

Dotz is a technology leader, specializing in the development and marketing of novel advanced carbon-based materials used for tracing, anti-counterfeiting and product-liability solutions. Our unique products: ValiDotz ™, Fluorensic™, and BioDotz™ can be imbedded into plastics, fuels, lubricants, chemicals, and even Cannabis  plants to create product specific codes and trace for origin Twitter Icon 042616.jpg Follow Dotz Nano on Twitter

When the quantum dot signature of a product is scanned (via a hand-held scanner or an app on a smartphone), a digital representation is created that is stored on our secure and tamper-proof blockchain platform. It is this platform that allows for tracking of products providing visibility among all participants in their supply chain – from manufacture to customer purchase.

In addition, the blockchain platform is also used to store the unique digital identities of individual customers, and to tie ownership of a product to a customer at purchase time. No longer is it necessary to keep the receipt!

For example, a customer purchasing a luxury handbag that has QMC’s quantum dots incorporated into it by its manufacturer can use their smartphone to scan the bag to give them confidence that the bag is genuine. As a bonus, the manufacturer is notified that the bag’s authenticity has been checked and can offer a warranty or loyalty program to the customer in order to establish an enduring brand/customer relationship.

The bottom line for blockchain plus nanotechnology is that … it certainly impacts the bottom line. Surveys conducted by retailers point to customers not only appreciating being able to prove product authenticity but tending to buy more products where that functionality is available. They also frequent the retailer more often. Almost everyone is a winner – the customer, the retailer and the product brand. The criminal counterfeiters? Not so much.

By Stephen Squires, Founder & CEO, Quantum Materials Corp

MIT engineers develop a new way to remove carbon dioxide from air


MIT-Carbon-Capture-01_0

In this diagram of the new system, air entering from top right passes to one of two chambers (the gray rectangular structures) containing battery electrodes that attract the carbon dioxide. Then the airflow is switched to the other chamber, while the accumulated carbon dioxide in the first chamber is flushed into a separate storage tank (at right). These alternating flows allow for continuous operation of the two-step process. Image courtesy of the researchers

The process could work on the gas at any concentrations, from power plant emissions to open air

A new way of removing carbon dioxide from a stream of air could provide a significant tool in the battle against climate change. The new system can work on the gas at virtually any concentration level, even down to the roughly 400 parts per million currently found in the atmosphere.

Most methods of removing carbon dioxide from a stream of gas require higher concentrations, such as those found in the flue emissions from fossil fuel-based power plants. A few variations have been developed that can work with the low concentrations found in air, but the new method is significantly less energy-intensive and expensive, the researchers say.

The technique, based on passing air through a stack of charged electrochemical plates, is described in a new paper in the journal Energy and Environmental Science, by MIT postdoc Sahag Voskian, who developed the work during his PhD, and T. Alan Hatton, the Ralph Landau Professor of Chemical Engineering.

The device is essentially a large, specialized battery that absorbs carbon dioxide from the air (or other gas stream) passing over its electrodes as it is being charged up, and then releases the gas as it is being discharged. In operation, the device would simply alternate between charging and discharging, with fresh air or feed gas being blown through the system during the charging cycle, and then the pure, concentrated carbon dioxide being blown out during the discharging.

As the battery charges, an electrochemical reaction takes place at the surface of each of a stack of electrodes. These are coated with a compound called poly-anthraquinone, which is composited with carbon nanotubes. The electrodes have a natural affinity for carbon dioxide and readily react with its molecules in the airstream or feed gas, even when it is present at very low concentrations. The reverse reaction takes place when the battery is discharged — during which the device can provide part of the power needed for the whole system — and in the process ejects a stream of pure carbon dioxide. The whole system operates at room temperature and normal air pressure.

“The greatest advantage of this technology over most other carbon capture or carbon absorbing technologies is the binary nature of the adsorbent’s affinity to carbon dioxide,” explains Voskian. In other words, the electrode material, by its nature, “has either a high affinity or no affinity whatsoever,” depending on the battery’s state of charging or discharging. Other reactions used for carbon capture require intermediate chemical processing steps or the input of significant energy such as heat, or pressure differences.

“This binary affinity allows capture of carbon dioxide from any concentration, including 400 parts per million, and allows its release into any carrier stream, including 100 percent CO2,” Voskian says. That is, as any gas flows through the stack of these flat electrochemical cells, during the release step the captured carbon dioxide will be carried along with it. For example, if the desired end-product is pure carbon dioxide to be used in the carbonation of beverages, then a stream of the pure gas can be blown through the plates. The captured gas is then released from the plates and joins the stream.

In some soft-drink bottling plants, fossil fuel is burned to generate the carbon dioxide needed to give the drinks their fizz. Similarly, some farmers burn natural gas to produce carbon dioxide to feed their plants in greenhouses. The new system could eliminate that need for fossil fuels in these applications, and in the process actually be taking the greenhouse gas right out of the air, Voskian says. Alternatively, the pure carbon dioxide stream could be compressed and injected underground for long-term disposal, or even made into fuel through a series of chemical and electrochemical processes.

The process this system uses for capturing and releasing carbon dioxide “is revolutionary” he says. “All of this is at ambient conditions — there’s no need for thermal, pressure, or chemical input. It’s just these very thin sheets, with both surfaces active, that can be stacked in a box and connected to a source of electricity.”

“In my laboratories, we have been striving to develop new technologies to tackle a range of environmental issues that avoid the need for thermal energy sources, changes in system pressure, or addition of chemicals to complete the separation and release cycles,” Hatton says. “This carbon dioxide capture technology is a clear demonstration of the power of electrochemical approaches that require only small swings in voltage to drive the separations.”​

In a working plant — for example, in a power plant where exhaust gas is being produced continuously — two sets of such stacks of the electrochemical cells could be set up side by side to operate in parallel, with flue gas being directed first at one set for carbon capture, then diverted to the second set while the first set goes into its discharge cycle. By alternating back and forth, the system could always be both capturing and discharging the gas. In the lab, the team has proven the system can withstand at least 7,000 charging-discharging cycles, with a 30 percent loss in efficiency over that time. The researchers estimate that they can readily improve that to 20,000 to 50,000 cycles.

The electrodes themselves can be manufactured by standard chemical processing methods. While today this is done in a laboratory setting, it can be adapted so that ultimately they could be made in large quantities through a roll-to-roll manufacturing process similar to a newspaper printing press, Voskian says. “We have developed very cost-effective techniques,” he says, estimating that it could be produced for something like tens of dollars per square meter of electrode.

Compared to other existing carbon capture technologies, this system is quite energy efficient, using about one gigajoule of energy per ton of carbon dioxide captured, consistently. Other existing methods have energy consumption which vary between 1 to 10 gigajoules per ton, depending on the inlet carbon dioxide concentration, Voskian says.

The researchers have set up a company called Verdox to commercialize the process, and hope to develop a pilot-scale plant within the next few years, he says. And the system is very easy to scale up, he says: “If you want more capacity, you just need to make more electrodes.”

This work was supported by an MIT Energy Initiative Seed Fund grant and by Eni S.p.A.