Why Seawater Isn’t the Answer to the Lithium Squeeze

Seawater: It offered the Ancient Mariner not a drop to drink, but plenty of scientists and entrepreneurs have ideas for how to use the salty stuff for green technologies. Some aim to desalinate it with high-tech membranes to produce fresh drinking water, while others envision it providing irrigation for salt-loving plants to be used as feedstock for biofuels. Add to the list South Korea’s ambitious plan, reported Tuesday by the Financial Times, to collect lithium from sea water for electric car batteries.
According to a release from the South Korean government, its Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs plans to jointly invest 30 billion won (about $26.4 million) with steel giant POSCO (s PKX) into the technology. Together with the Korea Institute of Geo-science and Mineral Resources, they plan to develop the tech and set up a plant (with capacity to produce 20,000-100,000 tons of lithium) by 2015. The hope, according to the release, is to “not only meet domestic demand but dominate the global lithium market.”  
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Daily Sprout

Wildlife vs. Energy in the Mojave: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) says she plans to introduce legislation today to establish two national monuments on roughly 1 million acres of Mojave Desert outback…Its centerpiece, Mojave Trails National Monument, would prohibit development on 941,000 acres of federal land and former railroad company property along a 105-mile stretch of old Route 66, between Ludlow and Needles.” — LA Times

Bolivia’s Lithium Mother Lode, in Pictures: “Nearly four kilometers above sea level in the Bolivian Andes lies the Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat…Flowing in salt-water channels beneath the surface is the world’s largest supply of lithium–and, possibly, the future of transportation.” — Technology Review

Antelope Valley Carbon Capture Project: Energy company Doosan Babcock today announced utility Basin Electric Power Cooperative has selected it to work on a carbon capture project in partnership with Canada’s HTC Purenergy. The project is meant to capture 3,000 tons of carbon dioxide per day at the Antelope Valley Station near Beulah, North Dakota. — Press Release

Asia-Pacific Partnership OKs Pond Biofuels Project: Toronto-based Pond Biofuels says one of its demo projects for capturing CO2 and feeding it to algae has been approved for funding under the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development “for a feasibility study that will assess the suitability of its technology for the cement industry in China.” — Clean Break

Rethinking Roads’ Purpose & Need: “The process of building roads in this country is underpinned by myriad assumptions and biases that favor automobiles.” In the Environmental Impact Statements required for all road projects receiving federal funding, the “Purpose and Need Statement….utterly fails to account for the existence of pedestrians and bikes.” — The Urbanophile via Streetsblog

MobileTechRoundup 187 – Revenge of the Nook

MoTR_coverMoTR 187 is 33:05 minutes long and is a 30.4 MB file in MP3 format.
CLICK HERE to download the file and listen directly.

HOSTS: James Kendrick (Houston), Matthew Miller (Seattle) and Kevin C. Tofel (Philadelphia)


Windows 7 is here, and so is the Windows 7 Whopper. 😉
Will Starter Edition help or hurt netbook sales?
More time spent with Nokia’s N900 and a definitive guide.
B&N Nook vs. Amazon Kindle (which will have a PC edition soon)

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Aptera Co-founder to Tackle Battery Systems at Flux Power


As if Chris Anthony didn’t have enough to do as chief of composite operations for Aptera, a startup working on a futuristic-looking, ultra aerodynamic three-wheeled vehicle, and CEO of hybrid boat maker Epic Boats. The multi-tasking entrepreneur has just taken on another project as the head of a new company called Flux Power, which plans to launch a family of products next month for managing, monitoring and charging lithium batteries.

Based in Vista, Calif., Flux is a spin off from LHV Power (formerly called HiTek Power Corporation), which sells power supply systems to corporations including Applied Materials (s AMAT) and Kodak (s EK). Flux plans to market technology for a range of energy storage applications, including electric vehicles and backup power supplies. Chief Technology Officer Joseph Gottlieb told me this morning that the company will use lithium cells from a variety of manufacturers and integrate them into a battery with the Flux management system. Customers — an automaker, for example — will then be able to take that modular system and create their own battery pack.
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In Lithium’s Long Shadow: Other Battery Tech Is Still Key

Lithium, the key mineral for lithium-ion batteries used in many consumer electronics, computers and upcoming electric vehicles, is a limited resource residing in large quantities below Bolivia’s salt flats (among other places). That fact has helped create buzz about the chemistry, electrifying it with political controversy and fears about “peak lithium” (see our take on the looming lithium squeeze here). But while lithium-ion has seized the limelight of late, it’s only one of several battery chemistries that will have key roles to play in the transition to a cleaner transportation system and power grid.
Lying in lithium’s shadow are technologies such as lead acid batteries, which have a long history in automotive applications and consumer electronics but are getting an upgrade from startups such as Firefly Energy, as well as lithium-air, an experimental technology being backed by IBM (s IBM). While many automakers now agree that lithium-ion holds the most promise for at least the first few generations of electric vehicles, the risk of having so much attention focused on one chemistry is that it can obscure the need and opportunity for a variety of energy storage technologies — for electric vehicles, hybrids, grid buffering and other smart grid applications.
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German Company to Blogger — We Own the Smartbook Name, Stop Using It

bullyWell, we predicted another trademark fight was coming over the term “smartbook”, and it turns out we were spot on. The same type of fight that was fought over the term “netbook” is now being fired up for the “smartbook” term. Sascha Pallenberg of Netbooknews is a friend of ours and he has received a take-down notice from a German company. The notice has been published on Sascha’s site and demands he remove all instances of the term “smartbook” from his two sites within the next two weeks or face the consequences.
The company is Smartbook and I suspect they went after Sascha as he is German and netbooknews.de is a German language blog covering netbooks. The tactic is similar to the one used by Psion in their trademark fight over the “netbook” term. Psion’s fight went on to include Intel and Dell and was eventually settled out of court.
I feel for Sascha and urge him to hold on. The company is trying to bully him to get publicity for their cause. I suspect they will eventually go after Qualcomm and other companies actively promoting the smartbook name.