Nano-diamond self-charging batteries could disrupt energy as we know it
Comment of the Day

August 25 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Nano-diamond self-charging batteries could disrupt energy as we know it

This article by Loz Blain for may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

And it can scale up to electric vehicle sizes and beyond, offering superb power density in a battery pack that is projected to last as long as 90 years in that application – something that could be pulled out of your old car and put into a new one. If part of a cell fails, the active nano diamond part can be recycled into another cell, and once they reach the end of their lifespan – which could be up to 28,000 years for a low-powered sensor that might, for example, be used on a satellite – they leave nothing but "harmless by-products."

In the words of Dr. John Shawe-Taylor, UNESCO Chair and University College London Professor: “NDB has the potential to solve the major global issue of carbon emissions in one stroke without the expensive infrastructure
projects, energy transportation costs, or negative environmental impacts associated with alternate solutions such as carbon capture at fossil fuel power stations, hydroelectric plants, turbines, or nuclear power stations. Their technology’s ability to deliver energy over very long periods of time without the need for recharging, refueling, or servicing puts them in an ideal position to tackle the world’s energy requirements through a distributed solution with close to zero environmental impact and energy transportation costs.”

Indeed, the NDB battery offers an outstanding 24-hour energy proposition for off-grid living, and the NDB team is adamant that it wishes to devote a percentage of its time to providing it to needy remote communities as a charity service with the support of some of the company's business customers.

Should the company chew right through the world's full supply of carbon-14 nuclear waste – a prospect that would take some extremely serious volume – NDB says it can create its own carbon-14 raw material simply and cost-effectively.

Eoin Treacy's view

I don’t know if the promises being made by this start-up are realisable in the two-year timeframe they anticipate. However, we do need to pay attention to these kind of technological advances because of the productivity enhancement potential they represent. Secular bull markets are driven by productivity growth. Therefore, anything that has the potential to allow us to do more with less has to be given due consideration because of the growth opportunities they offer.

Here is a link to an additional article interviewing the CEO of NDB.

Two points immediately spring to mind. I remember back in 1998 and 1999 when I was finishing up my undergraduate degree that venture capitalists were talking to anyone studying ecommerce. It was seen as the future and the world needed anyone with knowledge of the sector to fuel its growth. Even the craziest ideas were having money poured on them because of the growth potential.

At the time, the promise of personalized medicine, an online utopia of free ideas and transfer of knowledge was seeming at our fingertips. Then came the crash and twenty years later we have seen some of the promises fulfilled but are still waiting on others. Big long-term vision is extraordinarily inspiring but it is also symptomatic of the final stage of a big bull market.  

The second thought is reprocessing spent nuclear fuel has been a promise for at least seventy years but has never been even remotely economic. It has always been cheaper to simply store the spend fuel. This bull market has delivered on reusable rockets and electric vehicles. It is a tantalizing idea that spent nuclear fuel can be safely repurposed as batteries.

The one thing they don’t discuss in either story is the difficulty of transporting and housing radioactive graphite prior to reprocessing. The regulatory hurdles to transporting significant quantities of radioactive materials are considerable and could well upend plans for expansion of the project. The realisability of these kinds of ambitious projects is dependent on a confluence of liquidity, regulations and technology.

Maybe this is the time and maybe it isn’t but it is certainly a story worth watching because it has the capacity to completely upend the global energy sector.

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