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Stimulus Could Kickstart US Battery Industry

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the charging-ahead dept.

Power 369

Al sends along a Technology Review piece that begins "Provisions in the Congressional stimulus bill could help jump-start a new, multibillion-dollar industry in the US for manufacturing advanced batteries for hybrids and electric vehicles and for storing energy from the electrical grid to enable the widespread use of renewable energy. The nearly $790 billion economic stimulus legislation contains tens of billions of dollars in loans, grants, and tax incentives for advanced battery research and manufacturing, as well as incentives for plug-in hybrids and improvements to the electrical grid, which could help create a market for these batteries. Significant advances in battery materials, including the development of new lithium-ion batteries, have been made in the US in the past few years; but advanced battery manufacturing is almost entirely overseas, particularly in Asia."

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Environmental issues (4, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894933)

My understanding is that battery manufacturing pollutes the environment, and other countries have fewer environmental regulations, making it easier to do whatever you want. Realistically, think about it......do you want a battery manufacturer in your back yard? It may sound selfish, but I really don't. Maybe it would be ok, though.....

Re:Environmental issues (5, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895051)

I would want a nice clean one in my back yard. We should set tariffs on products that are not manufactured in a way that would be legal in the US. This would level the playing field.

You can't have it. (2, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895427)

Sorry, you can't have it. There's always going to be some set of people that don't want to live up to the same environmental standards as you. Some people might not care about a 1-million chance of getting cancer, but you might. What right do you have to hold them back, in a Democracy?

I say, keep the asians out, but let each state do its own thing. I would add though, as an aside, if a state is blocking economic development due to environmental laws, and have to come crawling to the feds for a loan (say California), then maybe they should quit trying to enjoy nature on everyone else's dime and do some work for a change.

We can only borrow so much government cheese money (stimulus) from the Chinese.

Re:You can't have it. (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895521)

So other than racism do you have any comment you wanted to make?

The reality is dumping in China or in California will impact everyone. Do you know where rivers end up going? We can and should set standards on environmental cleanliness. Then to ensure that our companies are not at a disadvantage all products imported to this nation must be produced in a way that meets those standards or its cost should be increased via tariffs to prevent abuse of the commons.

The reality is dumping has a cost, but it is externalized. A tariff would merely internalize this cost.

Re:You can't have it. Too bad it took (0, Flamebait)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895857)

a shitty economy to get the US-origin auto mfr's to get "charged up" over the battery issue. And, well-educated and wiser people tell us "an ounce of prevention is worth (more than) a pound of cure" and being penny-wise can make us pound foolish.

Now (according to news i heard this am), one of the big 3 US-origin automakers is so deep in trouble that the management offers to let the unions manage employee benefits is pointless because there isn't enough money for either of them to properly manage things now.

But, to me, it seems these auto companies (most if not all of them globally) operated as if the economy would chugg along without a hitch. At least Toyota smartly gambled and seems to have fared well on the plunge into battery technology despite the naysayers. I suspect Ford got in to avoid being too much of a Johnny-come-lately, and probably wisely realized Toyota HAD to have some insight most US-origin auto makers reluctantly/grudgingly accepted.

And, it seems once again, ecological/environmentally-minded (despite the issues surrounding battery disposal, energy conversion value, etc.) Californians seem to have led the way toward the perceived or real value of using/buying hybrids. Hell, i dare say that if the US-origin and US-based automakers find a way to cut the amount of gas needed without getting greedy and jacking up the cost of car acquisition for consumers, they would AT LEAST not have to shut down so many plants. Hybridize the cars, make the batteries replaceable, and don't obsolete the cars for the sake of forcing new sales.

Re:Environmental issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26895473)

I have proposed an import tariff that's based inversely on the origin country's PPP-adjusted per capita GDP (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)_per_capita).

The USA is $47,025. A product being imported from the UK ($50,571) would have a much lower import tariff vs. something coming from Mexico ($14,582) or China ($5,943).

Better yet, let's use the Gini coefficient (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_income_equality), thus basing the import tariff on the country's income equality. The lower [better] the income equality index, the lower the tariff.

Re:Environmental issues (1)

Afforess (1310263) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896241)

But, would you like to pay $5 a AA battery? That's what the result would be. As much as we hate pollution and forced Chinese labor, we also hate high prices even more. Also, what would you do with Mexicans and Canadians smuggling batteries across the border. That's what will happen, like it or not.

Re:Environmental issues (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896347)

That's a tempting view to take but wrong in my opinion. First of all, tariffs work both ways. Some US industries are not the cleanest ones out there either, plus there is such a thing as retaliatory tariffs as well. But regardless of that, it would dangerously undermine any notion of free trade by providing a convenient excuse for any country to penalize foreign imports as it wishes. If you want to set environmental standards for other countries, the best way is to do it through international agreements, and US could possibly take a leading role on that front instead of dragging its feet like it has been doing under Bush administration.

Re:Environmental issues (3, Interesting)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895343)

Certainly, some of the money should be spent studying environmental issues.

And, not all "battery" technolgies are harmful; I read one proposal for storing and shipping hot water as a cheap and quite efficient means of energy storage. Pumping water uphill is another.

Re:Environmental issues (0, Troll)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895371)

Lithium batteries are basically NOT recyclable (ever notice that is not mentioned...at all.

Plus about 75% of the limited world supply of lithium carbonate to be processed for battery use is basically only in Columbia & Bolivia, which are not particularly capitalistic friendly at the moment.

Lithium Ion batteries are only an interim solution.

Re:Environmental issues (4, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895435)

Please stop making false claims that would have taken you 3 seconds to check.

http://www.toxco.com/ [toxco.com]

There you go they recycle. Besides if no one recycled them why would the recycling centers and such pay so much for old lithium batteries?

Re:Environmental issues (1)

baboo_jackal (1021741) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895551)

Hey, that's a pretty cool piece of knowledge. I did not know that. But I wonder why there's only one company in the world that does it...

Re:Environmental issues (0, Flamebait)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895643)

No, they are the only ones that do all types and sizes. Try reading.

Also as a later poster noted most lithium chemistry batteries are not recycled today as the lithium cost is so low. Perhaps if it ever raises that will happen.

Re:Environmental issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26896213)

I guess you've never heard of or forgotten that lithium batteries are used to make meth?

Re:Environmental issues (5, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895527)

Where to start?

1) We're talking about li-ion, not "lithium batteries". Lithium batteries are a completely different tech.

2) There is no single type of battery known as "li-ion"; it's a family of different chemistries. Each one has their own different traits regarding recycleability.

3) The single element that makes it hardest to recycle li-ions is the presence of a cobalt cathode, which makes the cells much more flammable and provides pretty much all of their (limited) toxicity. Most EV manufacturers are looking at li-ion variants that don't use them.

4) Even in cells that use cobalt cathodes, such as Tesla's, they're perfectly recycleable [teslamotors.com] .

5) The main reason li-ions aren't generally recycled isn't due to some sort of impossibility of it; it's that the ingredients, especially in the newer variants, are dirt cheap. Cobalt is a relevant portion of the costs of traditional li-ions, but that's gone in the latest. What in a LiP cell is worth recycling? Lithium carbonate at $7 a kilogram? Graphite at even cheaper? Phosphorus and iron? The raw ingredients are pretty worthless. Which brings us to our next points.

6) There is not a "limited" amount of lithium in the least. Lithium carbonate can be recovered from seawater in virtually limitless quantities at $22-$32 a kilogram with first generation technology. That's a couple percent of the total cost of the batteries. The reason people don't generally do that is because it can be gotten *even cheaper* from places like Bolivia, Chile, China, etc, for $7-8/kg (used to be $4-5/kg, but recent demand has outpaced scaleups of the mines). It's so cheap people can afford to use it for low-value uses like greases and glasses. In fact...

7) At *current prices*, they have big competition right here in the US. These sorts of prices make the Kings Valley lithium deposits (Nevada) being developed by Western Lithium Corporation economical, for example. There's enough lithium in that one deposit, for example, to build hundreds of millions of electric vehicles.

I could keep going, but I think I've made my point that you know nothing about what you're talking about.

Re:Environmental issues (3, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895391)

Every type of battery is different; categorizing them all with a single statement about the consequences of their manufacturing is silly. You might as well just claim "My understanding is that businesses pollute the environment... do you really want a business in your back yard?"

FYI, but the sorts of batteries being looked at here -- mostly phosphate or manganese li-ions, lacking in cobalt cathodes -- are among the most environmentally benign battery chemistries out there.

Re:Environmental issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26895585)

Realistically, think about it......do you want a battery manufacturer in your back yard?

Isn't part of the point of the taxpayers giving money to the batter manufacturer, so that the manufacturer can ask, "Do you want us in your back yard, if we offer you $n?" (Where $n is a check right to you (not bloody likely) or some less tangible benefit like "We'll agree to plant n trees in your neighborhood if you give us a local permit to run our plant.")

People not wanting you, is a cost. The new planned economy is about moving costs (the taxpayers pay it, instead of the business owners).

!Frist Psot (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26894937)

Good lord I'm late again!

Bring industry home! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26894947)

Tax the crap outta sweatshopper companies: Nike, Dell... reward companies that keep jobs here!

Re:Bring industry home! (3, Insightful)

Daravon (848487) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895319)

The problem with that idea is that we tried that before/during the Great Depression. We jacked up taxes on stuff not made here. US citizen then stopped buying stuff made "there". Once "there" got wind of this, they stopped buying our stuff. We were left holding our dicks.

Re:Bring industry home! (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896107)

Tax the crap outta sweatshopper companies: Nike, Dell... reward companies that keep jobs here!

That's a very short sighted view. Jobs are going to go where the labor rates are lower anyway. By penalizing US companies who take advantage of this fact you are simply rewarding their foreign competitors. You think Nike would be the world leader in sports equipment and Dell in computers if they had to manufacture all their products in the US? They would be easily out competed by foreign companies who do their manufacturing in China and who face no such obstacles from their own governments

Check one for science (4, Interesting)

mc1138 (718275) | more than 5 years ago | (#26894951)

It's really positive to see things like this coming out of the stimulus package. Yeah there's some serious question as to how well its going to do getting us out of this recession, but that being said, it does have some nice provisions in it for science related improvements, including a nice sized boost to NASA. Long term this is the sort of investment that will help keep our economy moving and on the forefront of innovation.

Re:Check one for science (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26895139)

You feel good about an agenda being forced on you and paid for with your taxmoney? This has nothing to do with the economy. They are using the economy as an excuse to pay for things that are not necessary.

drink the cool-aid sheeple.

Re:Check one for science (5, Insightful)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895369)

Bullshit. This is just more pork that's avoiding the issue. A "stimulus" would be punishing the people responsible for this mess, setting things up so that it can't happen again, and giving people faith in the system so that they aren't scared to spend their money knowing it will come back to them.

Re:Check one for science (3, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895611)

How do you plan to give people "faith in the system"? Do you have any clue how much toxic debt there is circulating out there? If you think things are bad right now, just wait to see what the unemployment situation is like by the time the financial system has worked it all out of its system; unemployment always lags behind everything else. Right now, about the only entities that *can* borrow money effectively are governments -- in particular, the US government.

$800B sounds like a lot, but we'll be lucky if it even manages to stop the slide, let alone pull us back. The numbers I've seen going around from economists are more like $2-3 trillion over the same timeframe.

Re:Check one for science (5, Interesting)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896319)

Right now, about the only entities that *can* borrow money effectively are governments -- in particular, the US government.

The business my wife works for is stocking up for the summer, they just got a credit line for five million dollars - the same as they do every year.
 
 

$800B sounds like a lot, but we'll be lucky if it even manages to stop the slide, let alone pull us back.

Ah yes, taking money from one pocket (mine) and moving it someone else's pork barrel is a wonderful way to stop the slide. I suspect you've never heard of the Broken Window Fallacy. [wikipedia.org]

So NASA was given what? (2, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896031)

400 million for climate research? OK, another 450 for the manned space program (drop in a bucket) but their funds that were going to fix the place got butchered? (50m instead of the 250m they needed)

So out of 789 BILLION NASA gets 1 Billion and that is OK? So, that puts NASA up to 18 billion? Well, who got more?

So, lets see where did the rest go? The bulk of the 20 billion or so is for the NIH to establish a National Health Registry. Actually the figure is about 19 billion of what is allocated to "sciences" for this purpose alone. That is not about advancing science but advancing government. So we will spend more to establish bigger government control over our privacy and choice instead of funding science?

Science, the only real science is where the bill was signed.

Irony (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26894969)

I find this ironic as I got laid off from a battery company. Too late for me I guess...

Re:Irony (2, Funny)

Dolphinzilla (199489) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895059)

mod + funny

Re:Irony (5, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895331)

Brought to you by: The Energizer Bunny! He keeps going, and going, and going... all the way to the unemployment line!

Re:Irony (1)

californication (1145791) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895355)

The energizer bunny just got terminated? Oh, the irony!

Here we go again... (5, Insightful)

pieterh (196118) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895003)

Every time I read "grant", "advanced research", and "tax incentive", I see "gift", "white elephant", and "sleaze".

Yes, it's good to spend collective funds on roads, bridges, art, maybe even public fiber, insurance, and banking. But anything the market can do, it should. And I mean a free market, not that fake crony capitalism championed by Bush. In a free market, with proper authority to stop the powerful from escaping the rules, every company is free to compete without barriers. Every subsidy, cheap loan, and grant is a distortion of that market unless it goes to areas that cannot make a profit.

Re:Here we go again... (1, Insightful)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895269)

Sure, and once the free market assigns clear, enforceable, transferable, sustainable dumping rights in the atmosphere, and thereby puts a market price on using the atmosphere as a dumping ground, we'll know exactly how wasteful -- or not -- it is to research energy-efficient technologies.

But as it stands, all we have is a "crony capitalist" subsidy to polluters through exemption from liability for harms to others.

Sheesh, man, it's fine if you disagree with environmentalist arguments, but could you at least acknowledge their existence?

Re:Here we go again... (2, Insightful)

huckamania (533052) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895475)

I'm not holding my breath until they do, but if you don't, you're a hypocrite for exhaling (dumping) your CO2 into the atmosphere.

I'm sure we can find more examples of your using the atmosphere, oceans and earth for your private little toilet. You should stop now. Seriously.

Re:Here we go again... (2, Interesting)

StevenMaurer (115071) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895805)

I'm not holding my breath until they do, but if you don't, you're a hypocrite for exhaling (dumping) your CO2 into the atmosphere.

I've heard this argument made before. It's pretty funny.

Everything we eat and breathe out as CO2 was formed from very recently grown plant material. Plants, as we all know, consume CO2.

So excepting anyone drinking fossil fuels straight from the tap, human body processes, including breathing, are inherently carbon-neutral.

This being the case, your charge of hypocrisy doesn't fly (except, of course, in whatever nutcase right-wing blog you got it from).

Re:Here we go again... (2, Insightful)

Spy Hunter (317220) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895751)

Whoa there. If you want to prevent atmospheric pollution caused by burning gasoline, a battery subsidy is not the correct way to do it. Instead, a tax on gasoline (or other CO2 sources) is the way to go. To the extent that batteries reduce gasoline use, they will benefit from a gasoline tax. But unlike a battery subsidy, a gasoline tax benefits every battery company, not just the ones successful in obtaining government grants. Furthermore it's not limited to benefiting battery companies either; it benefits any alternative energy source that reduces gasoline use, leaving the market free to decide the best option. Having the government pick winners and losers in alternative energy might sound nice in the short term but it is a recipe for stagnation, lobbying, and corruption in the long term.

Re:Here we go again... (5, Insightful)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895925)

Milton Friedman argued that the legal framework is already in place to deal with companies polluting the environment. It all boils down to private property. Few people pollute their own land and few people care if someone pollutes his/her own land.

Companies that pollute another person's property are already liable for damage caused to that property. The problem comes into play when dealing with public property and with the atmosphere. What we need is to extend private property laws to be inclusive of the atmosphere above that property. If someone pollutes the air on your property then you can sue him for the damages. There are already laws in place that touch on this to an extent. For example: here in Canada, if I run a business out of my home I can not allow any toxic gases to escape onto my neighbour's property. The only reason big industry isn't punished under these same laws is the practicality associated. We already have mass dumping into the atmosphere and for the government to say that it will enforce these pollution laws will have gross effects on the economy. There's really no other reason the government doesn't begin to more stringently enforce this principle.

The way I see it, the public should start suing companies in class action suits for damages to public property, the same way they do for damages to private property.

Re:Here we go again... (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895285)

Well, if every grant, cheap loan, and subsidy is an unfair boost to unprofitable companies then every labor law, environmental law, and union is an unfair kick in the nads. Seriously, if you want clean air, health insurance, and no little kids getting their finglers chopped off you are going to need to subsidize many industries, at least until the rest of the world is forced to follow the same rules.

Re:Here we go again... (4, Insightful)

pieterh (196118) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895429)

Read my post again. A free market is not the Wild Wild West. Unions, labor laws, and environmental laws are about stopping the powerful from escaping the rules. In a free market, for example, an individual has the option to withdraw his/her labor. Big businesses try to remove this options. Unions put it back.

At the same time, unions can work against a free market, when they get too powerful and themselves try to escape the rules (like competition).

Re:Here we go again... (3, Funny)

OwnedByTwoCats (124103) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895297)

It's such a good thing that the government never subsidized research into computer communication networks!

Now check the gauge on your sarcasm detector.

Re:Here we go again... (1)

pieterh (196118) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895383)

Yes, DARPA invested in TCP/IP very early on because it was a lot cheaper and better than buying proprietary networks for military use. Does not mean the Internet was funded by grants and loans and subsidies, any more than Linux is funded by grants today.

Re:Here we go again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26895317)

While I agree for the most part, "advanced research" is often something that the market doesn't provide. However, for something marketable like batteries, you're right, the market should be able to provide if there's demand.

Re:Here we go again... (1)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895653)

"Yes, it's good to spend collective funds on roads, bridges, art, maybe even public fiber,"

If the public is actually demanding such infrastructure from the government then sure. If the public NEEDS a road to be built and is asking it of the government and willing to pay taxes to see it built then fine. However, when the government sets about the build industry for the sake of "creating jobs" then it has to invent projects. The result is infrastructure that people didn't really need. Jobs also weren't "created" they were displaced from other, productive, areas of the economy. If anyone believes that the government is more capable than private enterprise at gauging what the people will find valuable and useful then they have a faith in government that eludes me.

"insurance, and banking."

I'll leave insurance alone because I don't consider myself qualified to speak on it. However, I will say that if government is in the "business" of providing insurance that implies that it is insuring people that the private sector has determined are "un-insurable" or "bad risks". This means that the government is using other people's money to take risks on people that private institutions have decided are not worth risking their own money on. I'll let others decide if they feel that's an endeavour that can pay off, socially or economically.

With regards to banks, same thing. Government gets involved with banks because it either wants to encourage lending to individuals that private institutions have deemed are "bad risks", or it wants to prevent banking collapse by offering them some sort of "bail out" (in the form of lending by the Fed in our current system) in case the banks find themselves insolvent.

The Fed was chartered to be a lender of last resort and we saw how well that worked out in the Great Depression (when they actually contracted the pool of currency rather than lending, and countless banks went under). Today the fed artificially manipulates interest rates by selling bonds. This encourages banks to lend more to each other (and consequently to lend out to entrepreneurs or home owners etc). These are instances where government is encouraging poor lending practices. I don't see how that can help the economy on the whole. People who can't get loans should resort to the traditional means of acquiring capital: saving. Which brings me to another reason that government interventionism into banking can be a bad idea: inflation. When government controls the creation of money it becomes far too tempting to inflate the currency to pay for immediate projects (as an alternative to raising taxes). The result is a debasing of the currency which makes it very hard for people to save. And we end up in a habit of lending / borrowing. Again: up for you to decide if it's a good idea or a bad idea.

Re:Here we go again... (1)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895675)

I hate to reply to my own post by I have to correct a grave typo:

"Today the fed artificially manipulates interest rates by selling bonds"

That should be "artificially manipulates interest rates by PURCHASING bonds".

Re:Here we go again... (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896071)

The result is a debasing of the currency which makes it very hard for people to save. And we end up in a habit of lending / borrowing.

YES, thank you. I have been saying that for years and so have other Libertarians, but neither the right nor the left (each for their own different reasons) wants to hear it. I am becoming convinced that despite its drawbacks, a return to the gold standard [wikipedia.org] is the only viable alternative. Governments have proven themselves time and again to be either untrustworthy or bunglers when it comes to managing fiat currencies.

would need some revamping of management also (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895699)

Some kinds of research have the problem that they require rather large, long-term bets. The only private-sector businesses that can sustain that are very large ones that can average across even large projects, and very large businesses tend to be managed by revolving doors of managers optimizing for stock price (often short-term, medium-term at best; not 30-year horizons). Smaller businesses tend to have managers in it for the long haul, who do what they think is good for their business rather than their career, but smaller businesses have a cap on what size projects they can take on--- despite Boeing being almost certainly crappily managed, there's a reason no startup developed a competitor to the 787.

I'm not sure that's even possible, though. A very large business optimizing for long-term performance, over multiple very large projects, managing thousands of people, is sort of becoming a quasi-government. The only times I can recall it actually working out are times when it more or less *was* a quasi-government, like the golden era of Bell Labs during AT&T's monopoly period.

Re:Here we go again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26895771)

Every subsidy, cheap loan, and grant is a distortion of that [free] market unless it goes to areas that cannot make a profit.

So, can you prove that every distortion of the free market is bad? Can you prove that an undistorted market maximizes the general welfare? You may take it on faith but, if you're being honest, you'll admit you don't actually know.

Sure, having a bunch of corrupt politicians micromanage an economy along the lines of the former Soviet Union doesn't work that well. But how do you know that optimum welfare isn't achieved with some degree of government intervention "distorting" the free market?

More broadly, though, developing advanced batteries and bringing them to market is going to take a lot of work. Either that work get paid for in the price of batteries (above and beyond the manufacturing cost) or that work gets paid for in tax dollars or, if you're willing to wait long enough, people may even donate their time - but, fundamentally, there's a lot of work to be done and somebody is going to have to pony up for that work. Maybe you'd rather have more expensive batteries than higher taxes or maybe you're even hoping to live off someone else's charity.

Anyway, I sure hope you're not under the illusion that the "free" market actually provides things (e.g. advanced battery research) for "free".

Re:Here we go again... (1)

pieterh (196118) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895977)

I did not call for no government role in the market. In fact government intervention is IMO an essential aspect of keeping a free market free. At the least, government must defend freedom of trade & communication, competition, the rule of law, and the equality of all. However, note that a government is just people, and when you give people the power to intervene in a market, they will do so for economic, thus personal, reasons. Your post assumes an incorruptible government composed of people who act for selfless reasons. I've never seen any such thing, ever in history.

As soon as you allow the state to intervene in the market, except as a neutral referee of the rules of fair play, you invite corruption.

However I can't prove that it's not possible for some state, somewhere, to intervene benignly. Presumably you have an example to demonstrate this?

If you cannot provide an example of a benign and successful intervention in a free market - that is, of the state reducing general freedom, with socially beneficial results - while I can provide hundreds of examples of the opposite, then your claim that such a situation might exist is like claiming that unicorns might exist, and therefore must.

Re:Here we go again... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895881)

Every time I read "grant", "advanced research", and "tax incentive", I see "gift", "white elephant", and "sleaze".

You forgot "gift to China" in that.

Re:Here we go again... (2, Insightful)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895995)

The average congressman is barely able to find their own ass with both hands and a mirror. Yet we expect that these people are more qualified to run industries than the experts in those industries. This stimulus package is nothing more than a trillion dollars of salted pork.

Just like 9/11 was an excuse for congress to meddle in our private lives, the economic crisis is just an excuse for congress to spend our money. Obama told us this package was so urgent that we couldn't even take the time to READ it. He didn't care about what was in the bill, he only cared that it had a lot of money in it.

Why batteries (4, Insightful)

jhfry (829244) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895013)

I don't want another battery, I want something completely new. I hope that the text of the bill doesn't actually use the words "battery" or even "electro-chemical".

I would so much rather a ultra-capacitor or some similar storage device that could conceivably be free of rare metals, and have extremely fast charge times (were the current available)

Re:Why batteries (1)

mc1138 (718275) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895049)

That's really just a semantics issue that this point. No matter what power sources we end up developing, be it wind, solar, fusion, dark matter etc, we will need a way to store it for future use.

and i want flying cars (0, Redundant)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895467)

and i want jessica biel in my bed

in the meantime, reality unfortunately dictates you are stuck with batteries, the bus stop, and an empty bed

of course batteries suck. it is not good enough for you to want something better than what we all realize is an awful compromise

so stop stating the braindead obvious and go out and go out and make what you want real. you will find out what we all have found out already: current technology makes it incrediby difficult to do better than heavy weak slowly charging nasty batteries

your capacitors and flywheels, for instance: not as stable as batteries

Re:and i want flying cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26896279)

current technology makes it incrediby difficult to do better than heavy weak slowly charging nasty batteries

This will change at some point in the future. When it does, a bill subsidising battery research will be counterproductive, and will delay the arrival of whatever fantastic replacement arises. This, I think, as the GP's point - bills should be worded as generically as possible, to allow for future changes in technology.

Re:Why batteries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26895563)

You left out the bit about them needing replacement every couple of years. A slow recharge rate would be ok with me, and safer. Just standardize the buggers and physically swap them out when they drain.

NiMH batteries aren't that expensive or exotic. But they are expensive enough. Perhaps some novel chemistry could be found that would actually scale up to common usage. But it does seem unlikely.

Re:Why batteries (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895661)

New lithium ion battery chemistries last a long time. Laptop cells are what you are thinking off, they trade life for lightweight and work for a user that abuses them. Batteries in a car are not going to be allowed to deplete all the way, the charge controller with cut off the car first.

Re:Why batteries (2, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895705)

You left out the bit about them needing replacement every couple of years.

1886 called; their want their knowledge of battery chemistry back.

The longevity of a battery pack depends entirely on its chemistry. Early 1900s EVs were often powered by nickel-iron cells, which have extremely long lifespans. Jay Leno has one that's still operating on its original batteries today. At the same time, they also had lead-acid batteries, which were much cheaper and had more storage capacity, but had very short lifespans.

You see the same thing in today's chemistries. Traditional li-ion gets 160-180Wh/kg. However, they're unstable and only last for a few years. But phosphates and stabilized spinels, while they only get 90-120Wh/kg, lasts for decades under accelerated aging tests.

There is nothing fundamental about being a "battery" that means it must die in short order. Ask any owner of a RAV4EV.

As for novel chemistries, there's a ton of them [daughtersoftiresias.org] at various stages of working their way toward commercialization. Even if most of them fail, the odds of *all* of them failing seem vanishingly small. Li-ions should be in the 250-400Wh/kg range within a decade, and be significantly cheaper per watt hour to boot.

Re:Why batteries (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896367)

You want a pink unicorn too? It's just about as plausible.

Advanced Batteries and Electric Vehicles... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26895039)

But nobody will be able to afford to buy them when they're ready.

That kind of language doesn't say much (3, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895045)

Stimulus Could Kickstart US Battery Industry...

The stimulus *could* do this or that or else...

I am tired of that kind of language. Can someone tell us what the stimulus *will* actually do? Could this or that or else does not say much at all.

Re:That kind of language doesn't say much (1, Insightful)

SupremoMan (912191) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895073)

I must agree with Parent's sentiment. It could do anything, it's a lot of money. I can tell you thou it won't do much probably.

Re:That kind of language doesn't say much (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895583)

  • Make up some fancy-named bullshit project
  • Write a description with lots of buzzwords and claims that it will create a lot of jobs.
  • Con the relevant congressmen (those in whose district the project will be carried out).
  • ???
  • Profit!

Re:That kind of language doesn't say much (1)

kitsunewarlock (971818) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895625)

Its Schrodinger's stimulus!

Re:That kind of language doesn't say much (5, Informative)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895089)

Can someone tell us what the stimulus *will* actually do?

It *will* increase the deficit.
Other than that, the jury is still out.

Re:That kind of language doesn't say much (2, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895431)

Longer term, the deficit increase is far from certain. If successful, the stimulus will lessen the deficit in the next several years by increased employment, economic output, and tax revenue.

Of course, we'll never know for sure, even in retrospect. Some people still think the New Deal was a net loss.

To the grandparent I say, certainty is simply not a realistic request. Would I like certainty before investing in stocks, or taking a job, or starting a business? Sure. Ain't gonna happen.

mod parent up (1)

GodInHell (258915) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895835)

wisdom should be rewarded.

Re:That kind of language doesn't say much (1)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895987)

Deficit refers to a balance sheet in which the total planned expenditures amount to greater than the expected income.

So yeah, if government freezes it's spending projects and there is increased economic activity, and consequently increased tax revenue, then the deficit could shrink.

Then again pigs could grow wings and fly.

Re:That kind of language doesn't say much (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896055)

It will be successful at what the congressmen are trying to get, but it won't be successful at anything else.

The reason is obvious. If it was an efficient distribution of economic effort, the market would already settled or been moving towards it without the implied threat of violence inherent in the robin-hood style scheme.

It will increase jobs where they matter: on the "jobs created" sheets of the politicians who voted for it, but it will drain the same or more jobs silently from elsewhere in the economy, and it gets worse:

If it was as efficient an allocation as the free market would tend towards, then it would be a net wash. Bad for civil liberties, but mostly harmless economically. It is unlikely to be anywhere near that good, however, for the reasons stated above. Four million jobs "created" will cost far more than four million jobs.

It's a good thing they rushed to pass this bill. If they'd waited too long, the first signs of recovery would already be poking through and the damage would be much more obvious.

Re:That kind of language doesn't say much (4, Insightful)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896035)

There are only three ways to finance a deficit: taxes, debt, and inflation. Add this trillion dollars to Bush's trillion dollars, and the inescapable conclusion is that payment will be large, painful, and unlubed.

Re:That kind of language doesn't say much (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896151)

Add this trillion dollars to Bush's trillion dollars, and the inescapable conclusion is that payment will be large, painful, and unlubed.

Now I don't know where you get that idea, seeing as the stimulus bill specifically allocated $3 billion to providing Americans with lube. You should be getting a coupon soon redeemable for a jar of Vaseline or KY jelly (your preference since the gov will not be wearing a condom latex or otherwise).

Re:That kind of language doesn't say much (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896337)

Actually, I've been reading in the media that it's a milestone and a victory. So it must already be successful.

Re:That kind of language doesn't say much (2, Informative)

senorpoco (1396603) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895125)

http://www.rules.house.gov/111/LegText/hr1_legtext_cr.pdf [house.gov] QUALIFIED PLUG-IN ELECTRIC VEHICLE is defined as a vehicle "which is propelled to a significant ex- tent by an electric motor which draws electricity from a battery which "(i) has a capacity of not less than 4 kilowatt hours (2.5 kilowatt hours in the case of a vehicle with 2 or 3 wheels), and "(ii) is capable of being recharged from an external source of electricity.-"

Re:That kind of language doesn't say much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26895283)

mod informative.

Re:That kind of language doesn't say much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26895203)

Can someone tell us what the stimulus *will* actually do?

Prevent stds in a very small number of people. Allow for companies to build new roads and schools using illegal immigrant labor. Protect wetlands in Nancy Pelosi's home state. Unblock a few streams. Push states to enroll more welfare recipients. Landscape the Washington mall. Get a few people to quit smoking.....

The stimulus bill will do a lot of things. Sadly one of the things it won't do is stimulate the economy.

Re:That kind of language doesn't say much (3, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895745)

You can hand-pick talking points out of the bill. Or, you could actually see the breakdowns [recovery.gov] . Your call, I suppose. Once the grants start going out, that site will even have every last contractor, what's going to what congressional district for what projects in that district, and on and on.

Re:That kind of language doesn't say much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26895859)

The "Breakdowns" tell you virtually nothing. All I see are eight incredibly general categories, with some percentages. The only way to actually see what is in the bill is to read and digest all 1000+ pages of it, a task which many Americans would not be up to.

You say transparency, I say pretty webpage with virtually no real information.

Furthermore, this is not about talking points. You can keep telling yourself this so that you can peg anyone who doesn't agree with the messiah in chief as evil neo-cons. The simple fact of the matter is a pork-laden bill is not change I can believe in. This is the same old same old. If the economic crisis is as serious as we have been hearing out of Mr. Obama lately then there should be considerably less waste in such a massive spending bill.

Re:That kind of language doesn't say much (1)

spartacus_prime (861925) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895349)

It *will* stimulate Rush Limbaugh's drug habit.

Re:That kind of language doesn't say much (1)

registrar (1220876) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895655)

It might help you to think about what a lack of stimulus will do: inappropriately inflate the value of cash. Basically, if there is some sort of stimulus, people with skills have an opportunity to sell their skills. Without it, people with skills will go unemployed.

I have ten good job applications sitting on my desk right now. I would happily give any of them the one job. So because I've got a bit of cash to spend, I'll be employing a person better qualified than me to work at a substantially lower rate.

If the government employs now, they will get good value for their money. If they do not spend money now, they will push people out of the high investment professions that make modern society good. (I'm talking unemployed doctors & scientists.)

The only real problem with The Stimulus is that as it stands, it's more likely to prop up inefficient vested interests than genuinely valuable skills.

Re:That kind of language doesn't say much (1)

Clandestine_Blaze (1019274) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896185)

Nobody knows. It's like a syringe with an unknown content and you inject it into your arm. Who knows what will happen - all you know is that you're injecting yourself with something. Maybe it's all trippy. Enjoy the ride!

I'm not an economist at all, but I just don't think that you can spend your way out of debt. The proper phrase for that is "printing more money." Your different tech and manufacturing sectors have to actually produce something. But maybe that's my lack of an actual understanding of economics beyond college-level content.

most tech-y part of the stimulus? (4, Interesting)

wjh31 (1372867) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895065)

is this really the most important part of the stimulus in relation to tech, R+D, and similar things, how about a break down of all the ways it's going to affect anything that is 'stuff that matters' to nerds. I dont mean this as a troll, i would genuinely like to see a full list, new age batteries sound good, but cant be the only thing.

Newsflash, paraphrased (5, Funny)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895101)

Provisions in the Congressional stimulus bill could help jump-start a new, multibillion-dollar industry in the US for manufacturing advanced briberies for congressmen and senators and for siphoning off money from government pork to enable the widespread use of luxury homes and lifestyles by politicians. The nearly $790 billion economic stimulus legislation contains tens of billions of dollars in loans, grants, and tax incentives for advanced bribery research and manufacturing, as well as incentives for earmarks and kickbacks, which could help create a market for these briberies. Significant advances in bribery techniques, including the development of new fully off-shored briberies, have been made by corporate legal departments in the past few years. Advanced bribery manufacturing is primarily at the state and federal level, particularly in Washington D.C., but local governments are looking forward to far greater participation.

This story has been developing for a while... (1)

tristanreid (182859) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895145)

See this previous story [slashdot.org] regarding the initial request for funds.

-t.

Better Headlines (5, Funny)

D Ninja (825055) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895407)

- Stimulus Could Give Battery Industry A Jolt
- Stimulus Gives Battery Industry a Jump Start
- Stimulus Gives the Battery Industry A Gift That Keeps Going and Going and Going...
- Battery Industry Charged Over Stimulus

Re:Better Headlines (2, Funny)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895587)

And the battery industry would kick-start the stalled auto industry?

Re:Better Headlines (1)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895807)

Those are good, but I actually like the connotations of "kick-start", which implies a lack of good battery technology at this time. That's what kick-starting is for, y'know?

Re:Better Headlines (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26896045)

Obama uses testicle electrodes on national economy.

Congressmen get a charge out of pork and earmarks.

Obligatory OCD correction (1)

jrothwell97 (968062) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895503)

It's a cell, unless you've got more than one in series, in which case it becomes a battery.

Re:Obligatory OCD correction (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896299)

From m-w.com:
4 a: a combination of apparatus for producing a single electrical effect b: a group of two or more cells connected together to furnish electric current ; also : a single cell that furnishes electric current

so it is acceptable to use battery for a single cell.

This won't jumpstart anything in the US. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26895529)

This stimulus won't jumpstart anything. Batteries are made in Asia because the US environmental laws make it economically impossible to do it in the US. This sitmulus will do a nice job of stimulating jobs in China.
If the stimulus bill were to wave the environmental laws, then it would do some good.

just keep the US auto industries hands off it (5, Interesting)

Locutus (9039) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895567)

those companies once had millions to develop new battery tech and nothing came of it. Ovonics goes and invents the NiMH, partners with GM and sells a majority stake in the patent and then GM sells that to the oil industry who won't let anyone make large NiMH for electric vehicles. Leave the US auto industry out of this battery industry and maybe something will happen and it'll get a chance to be used in the next-gen autos.

Remember, the EV1 got over 140 miles per charge on the NiMH batteries in the late 90s or very early 2001 period. GM is hardly getting 40 miles per charge of expensive lithium batteries today and nobody is using NiMH for mostly electric or all electric vehicles. It's not because the tech can't handle it. Ask any of the few Rav 4 EV owners out there.

If the US auto industry is tied into this, I give it less than a 50% chance of working out to anything viable.

LoB

Re:just keep the US auto industries hands off it (4, Interesting)

nxtw (866177) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896025)

Remember, the EV1 got over 140 miles per charge on the NiMH batteries in the late 90s or very early 2001 period. GM is hardly getting 40 miles per charge of expensive lithium batteries today and nobody is using NiMH for mostly electric or all electric vehicles. It's not because the tech can't handle it. Ask any of the few Rav 4 EV owners out there.

By volume, the Volt has 1/3 as much battery as the EV1 (even less by weight). (source [wikipedia.org] )

The EV1 was also designed to be as efficient as possible - it was a two-seater with the lowest drag coefficient of any production vehicle. I can't find any definitive sources, but it seems that the Volt is about 500 lbs heavier as well.

Re:just keep the US auto industries hands off it (1)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896183)

People will always use their own money more wisely than someone else's.

Natural market forces are also very good at determining what is in demand and what is not. We saw a correction in 2008 where businesses that were producing products for which there was no longer any demand started to go under. I think this is inclusive of the domestic auto industry.

Now the government is pumping tax dollars into "toxic" industries (industries that are worthless). This is a clear demonstration of market efficiency vs. government inefficiently. I don't understand how anyone can expect the stimulus to have any positive, LONG TERM, results (sure we might see some jobs "saved" at the indirect expense of others in the short term).

As you pointed out, giving the auto industry money to produce fuel efficient cars is not going to pay off unless there is a clear demand for them. They might very well put all of that tax-payer money into R&D on efficient batteries but they won't be so stingent about it as they would if it was their own capital. They'll be fulfilling some governmental obligation and little else. A business either knows how to produce something that is in demand that is the same quality at a lower price than it's competitors or better quality for the same price, or it does not. Government money MIGHT help them figure it out. And if the government money is sufficient in size it MIGHT also help them find a way to mass-produce and market that new product.

The vital component that's missing from the equation is the incentive not to fail. Large companies are comprised of individual business-men understand business and have been playing the game for a very long time. The vast majority of these executives do not give a rat's ass if they are directing GM or some new business venture in a completely unrelated industry. They will take as much as they can possibly get from the government until that time comes when it's more profitable to cut their losses and expend their private capital (which WILL consist of some of that governmental assistance since at the very least a fraction will have gone to their compensation) on a new enterprise that they perceive as being profitable. Government ideas about what the "technologies of the future" are aside.

Re:just keep the US auto industries hands off it (2, Informative)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896269)

However, the EV1 had one gigantic problem: the battery pack was so big that you barely had room for a decent interior! Small wonder why the idea failed.

A better solution is plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, where you have a powerful battery offering about 40-50 miles range on a full battery charge and then the vehicle operates like a normal hybrid vehicle a la Toyota Prius. Indeed, the 2010 Toyota Prius and 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid already are ready for PHEV conversion as soon as higher density storage batteries are available (whether lithium-ion, zinc-air or ultracapacitor types).

Since most commuting is under 15 miles in range, PHEV's will likely operate in mostly all-electric mode for commute drives.

I want to see 'battery drop off centers' (2, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 5 years ago | (#26895951)

a few years ago I bought a currie electric scooter, just for fun. it gets about 10-15 mi range before it runs out.

the idea I would LOVE to see is where there are frequent stops (like gas stations) where you can swap your drained batt for a freshly charged one. they have that idea for propane tanks at supermarkets - you don't have to WAIT to have yours filled; you simply swap your empty for a full one.

why can't the same thing be done for short-distance pure electric vehicles? the issue with these vehicles is distance on a single charge and if you can make the batts swappable (easily and safely) then you have removed the distance limitation.

its a huge infrastructure to implement, but at some point, we NEED to rethink our whole energy plan. this could be one way.

too late. the lunatics already run the asylum. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26896027)

As an R&D type who has spent way too much time in the business world I can tell you that Obama, despite having thrown gargantuan amounts of money at this, is going to have a hard time making it stick.

Western business has a sickness which one might call "middle man disease". For every $1 put into battery factories, 90c will go on financiers, accountants, marketers, "business development" and whatever else the middle men of today choose to call themselves.

It is folklore that in certain parts of the world nothing gets done without bribing the right people. We have the same thing in the West except its a legalised, lobby-driven, slick form of bribing.

For example in my native UK whenever the govt has some new "initiative" its remarkable how the same usual self-promoting suspects are quick to get around the trough. Despite inventing nothing (and contributing very little) this is where the vast majority if the funding gets creamed off. When the oxbridge/city/public school set have had their fill what little is left is passed on to their mates the next stratum down.

And so on and so forth. On and on, down and down until the likes of you and me see a pitiful salary and a budget so tight nothing of value can be done and under terms and conditions so punishing (think: ownership of arising intellectual property) that nobody in their right mind would even think of getting out of bed to do it.

Its a systemic sickness and Obama needs to get a clue real quick that between his lofty goals and the poeple doing the actual work lurk the layers upon layers of talentless parasites that got us here in the first place.

It makes me mad that ANOTHER generation is lost to the same ivy-league/power/money/military-industrial complex.

Uh, no (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896123)

No, Batteries will not jump start the economy. Why? It is still cheaper in the eyes of the moneymen to send the R&D to India or some other country. In effect, the stimulus funds will end up benefitting a third world economy. I would only jump for joy over this if there was legislation to ensure that jobs would be created here in the US and that all R&D and manufacturing happens here. I really, really do not want our funds being used to help the Indian or Chinese economy.

Stimulus package (1)

hackus (159037) | more than 5 years ago | (#26896149)

Almost all of the stimulus is earmarked for other countries, mostly China.

It will not stimulate any American jobs.

The reason for this is because we do not make anything here. Even the research will not bring sustaining jobs, because once the research is done it will be owned and manufactured by the Chinese.

Lets face it. The USA is done.

I think the best we can do is figure out how to reconstitute the government and how are we going to get rid of all these corrupt people running the country now in a peaceful manner.

-Hack

Oh nice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26896261)

So the American taxpayer is going to take it in the shorts (and the wallet), just so an industry that produces many toxic products (not all, but many) can build more poisonous stuff to support an electric auto infrastructure that doesn't actually exist yet, but we have to pay for it anyway. Meanwhile, trillions of barrels of crude sit under US-controlled ground, where we have the ability to extract it quickly and cleanly (and without taking money out of my wallet!). But we can't get it out because the US environmental lobby is so hopped up about man-made global warming, sorry, climate change and their idea that Big Oil is to blame that they can't (or don't want to) understand that we have absolutely no ability to change the weather patterns in a small region, let alone the whole frickin' planet, and that it's the sun that causes weather and climate changes. Thanks, Holy Obama, for giving us the Change that our great-grandchildren are going to pay for.

"Beam me up, Scotty, there's no intelligent life down here."

article title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26896363)

Would it really have killed them to use the word "jumpstart" instead of "kickstart" in the title? :)

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