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Jack Lifton

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  • EPA and NHTSA Predictions for Start-Stop Systems Strengthen My Position [View article]
    Am I wrong in assuming that the "starter" motor is powered by the battery, so that when you engage the "start" function on your ICE powered car the battery supplies energy to turn the engine "over?" If so the current isn't sent by the generator to the starter but rather by the battery. It is the recharge function that is is handled by the alternator/rectifier I believe. Therefore I don't see any value in a complex and expensive dual mode electric motor, because the system ain't broke.

    The Axion battery technology, if it is workable on a practical level, is a far better solution to maximizing the efficiency of an already working system than a new starter/alternator or generator re-engineering.
    Apr 12 09:36 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Plug-In Vehicles: The First Great Fraud of the New Millennium [View article]

    I once (actually) heard (on a tube type radio in the early 1950s)Bertrand Russell say that he had lived so long (He was nearly 90 at the time) that his philosophical opinions and "observations" had been accepted during his own lifetime. I hope that you attain to his age and lucidity at that age, because it may be the only way to vindicate your prescient analysis of what you so rightly describe as one of the great "frauds" of our time.

    In fact, the overarching fraud is that consumption (demand) begets supply. This could only be true in a world of infinite resources, in which world so many of your auditors and interlocutors seem to reside. The ancients called it cloud cu-cu land. I call it the world of non-Aristotelian logic.

    The profligate waste of resources party may be over, and, if so, I fear the hangover as the reality of material limits pushes politicians and financiers into greater and more destructive methods of stealing from the future to ensure their own, and only their own, present.

    You're right on the money, John. Keep up the good work.

    Mar 16 09:43 AM | 10 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wind Surpasses 2% of U.S. Electricity Production [View article]
    The installed generating capacity of the USA, from all sources, is 1,100 gigawatt/h. So if wind generation has reached 4.538 billion kwh that is 4.538 gigawatt/h. This is less than 0.25% not even remotely near 2%.

    Perhaps the author is speaking of California's power "consumption," which is probably 10% of the US total, and, if wind is measured against that it will have reached 2% nationally of the total of California's needs. For the US as a whole wind is still a trivial factor. If I am wrong can somebody please point out the correct data or the correct way to do this calculation?
    Mar 12 09:54 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 'Bird in the Hand' Investment Opportunities in Vehicle Electrification [View article]
    As you so often point out the waste of resources on energy utilization efficiency solutions that are solely for the political or economic benefit of the political and financial classes is monumental. We are fast reaching the point in energy resource economics of having to make a choice between moving forward or just trying to hold our current place. If we make the wrong choices on where to marshall our resources of capital we will cause a decline in the standard of living in the USA for the first time.

    The tipping point is now, and our leaders are not up to the job. It's really time for a whole new set of leaders chosen by merit and skill not dental work or elocution lessons.
    Mar 10 10:18 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Don't Believe the Biofuels Brainwash [View article]
    Mr. Fessler,

    I follow your work on SA, because it always makes sense. I note that you say, with regard to the expiration of a biofuels' subsidy that is upcoming, "However, some members of Congress are trying to reinstate it. One can only hope that saner heads will prevail."

    Even contemplating such a renewal at this point is not just insanity it is also evidence of a pervasive corruption of the political process by money and a collapse of any minimum standard of intelligence and reasoning ability formerly required to qualify for service in the national legislature.

    Biofuels are garbage, literally and figuratively.
    Mar 7 10:20 AM | 10 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • High Conviction: A High Yielding, Low Risk Power and Water Company [View article]
    Is this Robert Waxman the same man who was a partner in the Phillips trading organization that blew up in scandal?
    Mar 5 11:45 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Beijing Cramps Foreign Wind Power Firms [View article]
    Siemans moved a wind turbine manufacturing operation to China to get access to neodymium in return, as usual, for sharing intellectual property with their (mandatory) Chinese partners. This process was inaugurated by Energy Conversion Devices in the 1980s when it gave China the technology for manufacturing nickel metal hydride batteries in return fro access to critical raw materials (lanthanum and neodymium). GM did the same later with manufacturing technology for motor vehicles. Its the opposite of native Americans trading gold for firearms, because the NAs were not planning on, nor did they ever learn how to, manufacture firearms. The Chinese by contrast know well the value of their precious metals and will only use them as currency for so long as they have to. That time is now rapidly coming to an end.
    Feb 22 05:18 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Exploring Energy Efficiency in the Automotive Sector [View article]
    Europe and Japan, the two senior legs of the mass produced high technology using corner of the world are both committed to strategic stockpiling, recycling, and conservation of natural resources. They have in common that they have few (Europe) or no (Japan) mineral resources to start with. The strategic stockpile agencies and those charged with finding the resources for them for both areas are focused on establishing the security of supply of critical materials for their civilian industries, so that these industries would be able to survive an interruption of supply caused by the active or passive actions of the PRC. This is not a secret.

    The USA on the other hand only deals with such a possibility of the interruption of supply as a military production issue. But private industry forcused on military hardware in the USA is actively fighting the idea of restarting natural resource supply chains in the USA, because it would mean added cost and uncertainties. The problem in the USA is that awareness of strategic national issues such as resource limitations and their influence on our economy is zero not only among the Tiger Woods' worshipping, but more importantly among the elected representatives. Very few in the USA are willing to take a turn at guarding the gates if it means either a moment away from the bread and circuses or some inconvenience.
    Wall Street and Washington do not lead in the USA; they simply follow the lowest common denominator.
    America is talking up the green road as the path to the future, but, in fact, it is mired in the past. Those heavily in debt and bankrupt do not go out and buy expensive untested toys to make a point. They will have a very hard time switching to reasonable size personal transportation that neither are positional status goods or testosterone replacing goods. But the next revolution in America will be just that: the switch to small fuel efficient internal combustion powered cars. EVs of all types will be outliers until the small car revolution is underway, and until the huge economic problems associated with such a technology switch become economically mandatory. Solving those problems will have to be necessary not just nice.
    Feb 20 07:09 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Exploring Energy Efficiency in the Automotive Sector [View article]

    Don Harmon is by far the most perceptive lithium applications businessman among your legions of followers.

    And do not think that the living breathing car companies are ignoring the LNG as hybrid fuel issue. One of them, I am not at liberty to name, has already built such a vehicle and is testing it IN REAL TIME NOT THROUGH COMPUTER MODELING AND ACCELERATED TESTING to see which battery type(s) work best. As you know LNG fuel burning engines have been around for donkey's years. There would still need to be a distribution system upgrade, but in some places, such as Hong Kong ALL taxis are now already running on LNG. The HK taxis I have ridden in are built by Toyota. It doesn't seem much of a stretch to a full hybrid does it?

    Jack Lifton
    Feb 19 01:15 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Exploring Energy Efficiency in the Automotive Sector [View article]
    F-KRU comments:

    "In contrast I think in the US the awareness of "going green" is pretty new and there's a lot of hype going on, which directs the attention to full hybrid and plugins cars rather than affordable measures which make a difference in day-to-day life."

    I think this is exactly right. As John says the lifestyle changes are not all that dramatic or even painful. The Swiss have been living with limited resources and the need for mutual re-enforcement since ancient Roman times. They seem to have done a very good job of making the most of it. Every Swiss national I have ever known or worked with who was under the age of 60 has had at home a rifle and ammunition and a soldier's kit. In the event of war or an invasion Switzerland is the only nation on earth that can muster its entire male population in 24 hours. The terrain, the size and equipment of its army, and the deployment of its defenses without the need for many permanent bases gave Hitler pause. Yet we do not think of Switzerland as a war-like nation, do we. Switzerland is simply ready for contingencies and has learned to recycle and conserve. Wouldn't that be a great idea for the USA?
    Feb 19 12:36 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Exploring Energy Efficiency in the Automotive Sector [View article]

    Some thoughts.

    The big secret (don't tell anyone, please) is that free market capitalism must now favor maximizing efficiency, because the lawgivers have, as you pointed out, decreed that reducing American dependence on foreign energy resources or saving the planet from a celebrity-fantasy heat death in the far future-take your pick-can be achieved by simply telling the engineers who are few in number what the majority of the uninformed but voting public wish them to do. The followers of Al Gore will now be hoist by their own bejeweled petards.

    Oh, one other little thing. There is no demand today to increase lithium production at the mines. Even so the market is flooding today with wannabe lithium "producers" much faster than it is adding to its battery researching firms. The pump and dump market in "lithium" mining is well underway. The problem is that the real existing lithium miners would need billions to invest now in order to ramp up the production of lithium in 5 to 10 years. The capital, however, is going to the wannabes, and I fear that when the consequences for vehicle development from the mandated emission reductions hit the public consciousness the lithium mining capital, both good and bad, will disappear.

    You mentioned recently that the new more efficient electric motors for electrified cars may need additional copper. Buyers at electric motor builders still go by the "We will pay and they will produce" mantra. But Asia is wiring itself in a frenzy that makes TVA look like it never happened. Could copper demand exceed copper supply? I mean isn't there an infinite supply of copper in the earth's crust and isn't the HUGE amount of energy needed to refine and recycle copper basically free?

    I think the new limited resource in transportation development is likely to be available capital.

    Great article, as usual, by the way.
    Feb 19 09:22 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Ener1, Exide: A Tale of Two Battery Companies [View article]

    Right on!

    There you go again. Letting logic and hard numbers interfere with hype and emotion. As a survivor of an attempt to be a Wal-Mart supplier when both Wal-Mart and I were young I can tell you from experience that unless you have excess capacity, as you rightly point out, and (not or) a lot of working capital the Wal-mart purchasing maw is not one anyone should enter who has hopes of survival not to mention profit. Wal-Mart provides just one advantage it takes VOLUME. In fact Wal-Mart's China strategy was the model for GM's disastrous "China spend" strategy, which literally destroyed the company's ability to be flexible and competitive. I myself heard from the lips of the now CEO of Avtovaz when he was in the process of contributing above his weight to the demise of General Motors that "Our strategy is the Wal-Mart strategy of a "low cost" Chinese supply chain." I said, "What if those costs increase and/or the Renimbi appreciates or they become competitors in your home market with the knowledge you gave them of design and manufacturing free of charge?" I, of course, was not awarded any further work. I had blasphemed.

    I sincerely believe that Wal-Mart will ultimately succumb to being hoist by its own petard. I look for the day when I can go to a (Chinese owned and operated) "China Price" store in Detroit; it's just a matter of time now.

    Exide shares should have risen when it "lost' the Wal-Mart contract.
    Feb 17 09:45 AM | 7 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Avoiding Losses in Alt Energy in 2011: Hedging Bets and Expecting the Unexpected [View article]
    Tom, John

    One more thing: Any technology which must be mass produced to have value can and will only be able to be mass produced if it is not dependent for its operation on a rare metal the sustainable production rate for which is that of lithium in 2008 or less. Increasing the rate of production and sustaining that increase depends on a variety of factors including large amounts of time to determine if such a sustainable increase is even possible. Otherwise the production rate changes for all rare metals are marginal at this point and none of the rare metals, other than lithium, is today produced in surplus and stockpiled for future use.

    The time to produce additional supplies of rare metals sustainably is in the decades, if it is possible at all.

    Get ready for intense competition for natural resources and forget new technologies the mass production of which is structurally unsustainable.

    Please give me numerical data as a counterargument, not emotion.

    Jack Lifton
    Feb 14 08:04 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Importance of Rare Metals [View article]

    I think you should look at two companies, NEO Technologies of Toronto and UMICORE of Belgium.

    The Canadian company, well known in the rare earths industry as a refiner of REEs and as a producer of REE metals and alloys, all of which processes it does in China, recently acquired another Canadian firm, originally called Recapture Metals, which was a private venture that has successfully "captured" the bulk of the world's recovery of gallium from industrial wastes business and is now under NEO management expanding to include indium and rhenium in its competency.

    UMICORE is the modern version and successor in interest of Belgium's Union Miniere du Haut Katanga, which was set up in the nineteenth century to smelt and refine ore concentrates from the "Belgian Congo" and in the years before World War I was a bastion of mining technology. The company survived wars and massive pollution to emerge a decade ago as the world;s largest recycler of rare metals. It has even moved upstream with regard, for example, to utilizing its relatively low cost in-house produced feed of rare metals to produce upmarket ultrahigh purity metals and forms and also, for example, in the case of the platinum group metals to become the third largest producer of automotive exhaust emission control catalytic converters.

    NEO and UMICORE are the hope of the nascent rare metals recycling industry. Their technology and production are world leaders but more importantly they make a contribution to reducing the waste of many precious and irreplaceable metals that we simply can no longer afford to lose.
    Feb 12 05:25 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Importance of Rare Metals [View article]
    I was a materials researcher as a young man, and I participated in the discovery of reproducible and controllable amorphous material semiconduction, which led to the phase change memory the first thin-film cell demonstration of which was of a cell I made.

    Based on the evidence presented that I have seen I do not believe there is any long term or permanent effect on the earth's climate from human activities. The most common logical error committed by the adherents of anthropogenic global warming seems to be post hoc propter hoc or as Fred Astaire might sing "Anything goes." Yesterday's New York Times was hilarious. It carried a story that the blizzard of 2010 was due to global warming. That was almost as good a story as Robert F. Kennedy's prediction last year that it would never again snow in Washington, DC, due to anthropogenic global warming. Both the Times' story and the Kennedy pronouncement were made in ignorance, but each of them has a following among the gullible. That is the problem.

    The scientific mentality requires that we advance knowledge by framing hypotheses on the available evidence and then believe them and continue to use them to make predictions unless evidence of an appropriate kind is found which contradicts them. Global warmists instead continue to revise their theory each time a disconfirmation is proved. This kind of behavior is easily explained by those who have a political investment in their own kind of truth or who make money from it, but for scientists it is unacceptable behavior, and I think in most cases it is ego and mendacity not the search for knowledge which drives people to hold on to disproven hypotheses.

    I postulate that the production rate for rare metals cannot keep up with the demand for them. Please, someone, disprove my hypothesis. Unlike global warmists I want to be wrong. I want everyone to have a better life.
    Feb 11 08:49 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment