Alternatives, if they could be made to work

Aluminum-Air Battery to Power EVs for 1000 Miles

The first time I saw an article like this (over a decade ago) I probably spent a week reading up on alternative energy storage mechanisms, there are dozens that are realistic and dozens more that seem quite plausible. Why can’t they compete? Well, it boils down to the mainstream products being cheaper, what with their installed infrastructure and substitution costs. Some of these ideas might very well have become the mainstream in some alternative universe if they were invented first (it costs _billions_ of dollars to build a deep sea oil rig, with ZERO guarantee that you will ever get your money back! what is the chance of that happening if an alternative history had not seen value in crude oil?). The aluminum battery makes a great deal of sense, but it too is nothing more than an energy storage device (so is crude oil, but the energy was stored over millions of years, millions of years ago (crude oil is still being created, just at a fraction of the rate we are using it)). Only nuclear is really an energy creation device, though one could make a philosophical argument that it is energy left over from the big bang. Anyway, my point is any alternative today has to compete with the massive (likely, in aggregate, greater than several hundred trillion dollars) infrastructure in place for dealing with crude oil, coal, natural gas, etc. This is one of the primary reasons I have focused my attention on alternatives that neatly mesh with existing infrastructure, the conversion cost is many orders of magnitude lower (indeed, in the case of oil from duckweed/algae, there is almost no conversion cost, though there is the wee little issue of no one has made it economical (yet?)). The upside for aluminum ‘batteries’ is there is an aluminum refining industry already in place. The down side is ‘gas’ stations would all need to be changed at a cost of trillions just here in the US. You can get that sort of investment (Wall Street moves trillions around every day) if everyone involved stands to make a buck, but that means there must be high margins to make it worth while.

Once crude oil gets over a few thousand dollars a barrel some of these alternatives will finally start to have the profit in them to get people to switch. Which one ‘wins’ is probably hard to predict. I think crude oil won out in its day because initially it was basically free since the stuff just oozed out of the ground.

Author: Tfoui

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