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Jack Lifton

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  • First Solar Sell-Off Is Overdone [View article]
    Yellowhoard,

    Tellurium is mostly produced as a byproduct of copper mining and refining, so that China by no means has a stranglehold on tellurium production, although it actually does have one mine that may be called a primary tellurium mine-the only one in the world- and that mine's output is today processed in China to solar grade tellurium, 5x9s. The real company to watch if you like FSLR is China's Apollo Solar, which is now supplying tellurium and other related rare metals in high grades to FSLR. Apollo is now traded in the US as a bulletin board stock, but it has applied to the NASDAQ for listing there.

    I am going to China next week, and I will be speaking on materials for solar energy conversion at two conferences there. I will report my findings when I return after Sep.8.




    On Aug 26 07:31 PM yellowhoard wrote:

    > FSLR depends on cheap tellurium to manufacture it's panels.
    >
    > The Chinese have a stranglehold on tellurium.
    >
    > If the Chinese want to own the solar energy business, they have the
    > power to control their own destiny.
    Aug 26 10:02 PM | 7 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Is China Planning to Restrict or Eliminate Export of 'Heavy' Rare Earth Metals? [View article]
    Kentpaul,

    Thjere is a company out there looking at producing hydrogen from ammonia economically for fueling hydrogen powered internal combustion engines. ;there is so much ammonia produced and distributed in the agricultural areas of the USA for fertilizer manufacturing that this is actually a very good idea. Unfortunately the US government doesn't see it that way.




    On Aug 25 04:06 PM kentpaul wrote:

    > PS I saw Matt Simmons is working on a mega size offshore wind farmthat
    > will electrolyse sea water to generate liquid ammondia - NH3 and
    > which works in combustion engines.
    Aug 26 05:13 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Debunking PHEV Mythology [View article]
    -i HIT THE PUBLISH BUTTON BEFORE i WAS DONE-

    -The free market car industry could build a universal small fuel efficient car easily, and it could even be profitable after an intial subsidy driven period, but its use would have to be mandated by taxes or restricitve laws on size and fuel consumption.

    Such a movement-into cars like that-would not necessarily be a regressive move into socialism but could be seen as the only way to failry distribute resources. I think this will happen first in Asia, and i think it will happen by the middle of this century.

    Thanks for letting me travel down memory lane.


    On Aug 24 09:22 AM William Taylor wrote:

    > And those expensive batteries will be punished by the necessity of
    > heating cars in the winter.
    > Anyway, what kind of solution is it to subsidize batteries??
    > A subsidy is just shifting costs elsewhere. We still have to pay!
    >
    > Common sense say build a little car that gets 70 MPG or better and
    > chug along at 45MPH.
    > It is my belief that all cars should be the same exterior size and
    > shape year after year so that you could replace a bumper or engine
    > or parts cheaply as they would be standardized year after year, (no
    > complicated wasted inventory of thousands of parts). The cars would
    > all be the same small size and the spirit of competition would mean
    > fancier and safer interiors. Since all cars would be small, road
    > traffic and parking would be easier.
    Aug 24 10:14 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Debunking PHEV Mythology [View article]
    When I first began going to Romania in 1983 they had in place a basic version of the system you propose. The Dacia was based on a Renault design; they made a million of them over the next 15 years without changing the body style (There were variants such, as a pickup truck called, by the Romanian, a Chinese limousine).

    Interestingly enough the most common small business-of the very few allowed to be private-was the Auto Parts shop. Romanians would go from one to anothetr haggling for whatever they needed such as a radiator or an engine mount. Hundreds of small shops were refurbishing such parts and the prices were always cheaper than those of "new Parts" from the parts factory called the Automotive Subassemblies Company.

    The Dacia was a very crude car, but it could be repaired with a screwdriver and pliers-which were half of the tool kit supplied with the car!

    Of all of the states of the former Soviet Empire that made their own cars I think the Romanians and the Poles were the most successful in the sense of mass production.

    Note that the Dacia was intended to run until it disintegrated and even then its components, with any remaining life at all, would go into the organ donor program.

    Dacia models only changed after the fall of communism, and the first replacement car was called the Dacia Nova.

    The states of the former Soviet Empire have all anadoned the one unchanging model version of a universal car, but it is in fact worth another look. The free market car industry could build


    On Aug 24 09:22 AM William Taylor wrote:

    > And those expensive batteries will be punished by the necessity of
    > heating cars in the winter.
    > Anyway, what kind of solution is it to subsidize batteries??
    > A subsidy is just shifting costs elsewhere. We still have to pay!
    >
    > Common sense say build a little car that gets 70 MPG or better and
    > chug along at 45MPH.
    > It is my belief that all cars should be the same exterior size and
    > shape year after year so that you could replace a bumper or engine
    > or parts cheaply as they would be standardized year after year, (no
    > complicated wasted inventory of thousands of parts). The cars would
    > all be the same small size and the spirit of competition would mean
    > fancier and safer interiors. Since all cars would be small, road
    > traffic and parking would be easier.
    Aug 24 10:09 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Debunking PHEV Mythology [View article]
    John,

    Once again your comments are definitive; there is really nothing more to say, among the rational that is.

    Keep at it, please.

    Jack
    Aug 21 08:26 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • A123 Powering Forward on Its Planned IPO [View article]
    John,

    Can you point me to who in the US Federal Government made the decision on the allocation of funds under the battery development
    section of the A.R.R.A? I certainly hope that none of those ladies or gentlemen has any conflict of interest that would be created by their ownership, legally or beneficially, of a stock such as A123. How are the "insider trading" statutes interpreted if, or in the case that, the insider knowledge is attributed to these deciders of critical funding???

    Jack
    Aug 20 09:45 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Is China Planning to Restrict or Eliminate Export of 'Heavy' Rare Earth Metals? [View article]
    Other popular promises include:

    1. The check's in the mail,
    2. I'll still respect you afterwards, and
    3. I'll gadly pay you on Tuesday for a hamburger today.

    I agree with you on your investment choices for the long term.


    On Aug 19 04:28 PM jimp wrote:

    > Lynas Corp has adamantly expressed that it has maintained multiple
    > contracts outside of China, presently and in the future. It also
    > made clear that the Chinese state owned partner of Lynas Corp, CNMC,
    > currently under review by the Australian govt., is solely interested
    > in making a profit. Not to direct rare earths direct to China.<br/>
    >
    > I would think owning Lynas Corp and Avalon Rare metals AVL would
    > make a great long term investment.
    Aug 20 04:43 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 8 Energy Storage Stocks that Can Expect Explosive Growth [View article]
    John,

    Some data and thoughts:

    I spoke at length to Better Place last Sunday, and they are focused only on well defined geographical areas that they can cover, on an economic and practical level, with recharging and battery swap stations, such as Copenhagen, San Francisco Bay, and Israel. I believe that the "Paris" plan is independent of Better Place even though I was told that there will be a Better Place car, designed and to be produced by Renault, with an easily accessed battery compartment introduced at the Frankfurt Auto Show next month. If you consider that Better Place was created in Israel and funded initially by a large grant from the Israeli national utility company you can see that many concepts can be accomodated in the EV world.

    One of the biggest problems for recharging and swapping batteries is scale. Unless you can harmonize batteries not only by size and shape but also by electrochemistry you face the a market killing problem of the Beta/VHS type.

    It seems to me that recharging stations can be versatile in their availability of sockets, plugs, and power delivery much more cheaply than battery makers and coach builders can, or will want to be, be versatile even with their geometries and sockets. I'm one of those who laughs out loud each time a movie space explorer simply plugs his "tricorder" into an alien or ancient "computer" and gets the data immediately. Imagine what battery technologies and chemistries may look like in just a generation and then try and convince yourself to raise the money to build recharging and swap stations in a standard pattern.
    Aug 19 03:41 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Vinod Khosla's Stance on the Future of Lithium-ion Batteries [View article]
    It sure is fun watching you young-uns play in the sand box of technological history...Yesiree, it sure is.

    Again, I worked on the molten alkali salt storage battery at Ford Scientific Laboratories some 45 years ago.

    It was an excellent system, but it was impractical for cars, so the mandate from the laboratory director, Dr. Jacob Goldman, who came to Ford from Xerox (Xerox in the glory days of the development of Carlson's concept to a practical machine) was to extrapolate and see of we could devise a system operating at a lower temperature while maintaining its high storage capacity.

    I see now that the end-use has changed, and the storage system may become cost efficient in this "new" use.

    John, I looked at a company (in Texas) as an analyst last year that was producing lithium-ion batteries for military and civilian off-grid storage. It was working with Panasonic on supplying remote locations in Japan, and I was told that this is a very unreported market. This was not a molten salt system. I think that a lot of good may come from mass storage and diurnal smoothing storage research into lithium and its salts as an electrochemical storage base.

    Do you have data on who is developing such storage electrochemistry? How is lead-acid impacted in that market by other technologies today?

    Jack
    Aug 18 10:44 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Is the Chevy Volt Only a Fair Weather Car? [View article]
    TinyTim

    Keep in mind when you speak of a storage battery freezing solid that such a device is a mixture of manmade materials, electrodes of graphite or titanates, liquid electrolytes or semi-solid ones (electrolytes to work in the real world must have high throughput of ions, so that even so-called "polymer electrolytes" are not rigid solids where ions exchange by susbstitution but are pathways with minimal need for free liquids), and outer cases in which the battery's constituents are placed in sharply defined relationships to one another. Don't forget the parts and channels for the battery's internal temperature maintenance system. Valves for these systems can be irrepairably damaged by freezing.

    When such a system as a lithium-ion or nickel metal hydride battery storage battery "freezes" mechanical motion occurs which has random elements so that upon returning to "operating" temperature the best that can be hoped for is that the structural integrity of the "system' has survived; the spatial relationships will not have.

    Such a battery, once frozen, is ruined, and if it has ruptured, may inflict damge on the mechanical components of the power train. If such a battery has been used for SLI purposes then the vehicle's ICE will not be able to resume functioning even when returned to operating temperature for normal starting.

    A frozen Volt battery will surely mean that the Volt has become a large wind break and certainly not a means of transportation.

    At what point in the Volt battery system's discharge do you think the energy remaining above minimum capacity will be devoted to the heating/coolong system? It would be nice to know.
    Aug 15 11:10 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • GM to Invest $43M in Chevy Volt Battery Plant [View article]
    In the middle ages it was "How many angels can fit on the head of a pin?" The answer was infinitely many, because the wonders of God were unbounded. But now as to how many miles can be obtained from the use of gasoline as a supplementary fuel in an extended range plug-in hybrid the answer is not so clear although the answers being given trend towards infinity.

    Please explain to me just how far the Volt will go if the battery charge is being "maintained" by the ICE and the movement of the car is only from the excess current (above the minimum needed to maintain the battery at its irreducible minimum state of charge) being delivered to the electric drive motor connected to the wheels??

    By the way if the situation of a low battery occurs on a blstering hot or bobe-chilling cold day does not the diversion of generator power to the heating/colling system of the battery less the range?

    I also want to know how fast the car will go in that situation, so that I know my margin of safety.

    When I ask questions such as the above the modern scholastics of the cult of lithium accuse me of being a nonbeliever. Nonetheless I say verily that I will not ever consider buying a Chevrolet Volt, and neither should you, untill all of my questions are answered so that I may compare oranges with oranges OPERATIONALLY rather than oranges with lemons.
    Aug 15 10:46 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Vinod Khosla's Stance on the Future of Lithium-ion Batteries [View article]
    Gentlemen,

    You've finally arrived at a key point of understanding. It is, indeed, the internal wiring that is the issue, but it's not that of any battery chemistry it is, rather, of our own brains and endocrine systems.

    John is correct: Cheap beats cool every time, because the American way is instant gratification and to do that one needs new adultolescent toys regularly even as net worth declines. The marketing of the lithium-ion battery is the same as of a music "album" or the ticket to a concert; if you don't have one, and if you don't have the prospect of having one you're (GASP) uncool.

    In a world of limited resources and increasingly limited resources it is simply foolish to the point of jejeune (reasoning unleavened by experience as with a child or a new CEO) to squander resources of time and money just to be cool.

    But that's what we're doing in the field of storage batteries.

    Does anyone who is actually an adult believe that the next two generations of mankind will spend an ocean of treasure and tie up the intelects of thousands of the dwindling class of men and women who dedicate a quarter of their lives to learning engineering and science just to have a cool "anything."

    Our civilization is evolving to where the standard of living of billions, not just of a few hundred million who live among, but are not themselves, the gifted in the sciences and engineering, or the dedicated in either, must now rise if the world is to continue at peace.

    The Japanese, the Chinese, the Indians, and the Koreans see the future as one of limitations of extra-territorial ambitions as solutions to domestic problems. This means that they must grow their domestic economies rapidly to avoid the poison of envy.

    We are giving them very good reasons not to envy us any more.

    While they develop the underpinnings of a strong economy of manufacturing and energy we simply give them the means to grow by paying for their growth until they can utilize it internally and no longer require our money or our doestic markets.

    Korea has announced that it will dedicate itself to controlling or owning 40% of its needed strategic resources by 2020. Japan has a higher goal, and China's goal is 100%. This means that sometime in the next decade free market capitalism as a driver for increased supplies of resources will cease to function in the United States.

    The money we send to Japan and China for affordable (no longer "cheap") cars, clothes, and electronic toys that dissipate irreplacable resources comes back our way to buy natural resources not shares in American lithium-ion battery R&D startups masked as manufacturing ventures ready to build factories with public handouts.

    China now says that it will begin to reduce its emissions of "greenhouse" gases in 2050 if its goals for domestic growth have then been met. America says it will begin to reduce its emissions of such gases now and then decide if it has any set goals for domestic growth.

    If China meets her goals for domestic growth by 2050 it will mean that the US no longer has access openly to natural resources at a level necessary to sustain the 2007 standard of living.

    China has already closed off the adult toy box of cheap manufacturing for foreign consumption. Now China is closing off America's access to rare earth metals, metals for solar energy conversion, and metals, such as tungsten, for specialty steels. China is doing nothing secret or underhanded; it is buying control even of what dwindling remaining production of those resources that we have but not to invest in our producers but rather to move the resources into China's domestic economy. The Japanese have now awakened to this and are adopting the Chinese strategy.

    North America is still a treasure house of natural resources, but if we don't expand our production of them for our own use then we are headed for the position of a mediocre future economy.

    For those of you who will live in the America of the future I am warning you that natural resources are finite as is the creation of wealth. Stop squandering both on dreams of cool positional (status) personal goods.




    Aug 15 08:58 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Is the Chevy Volt Only a Fair Weather Car? [View article]
    MRTTF

    Thank you for the illumination. It is sorely needed by most Volt cultists who seem to live among the mushrooms and have thinking processes fed by fertilizer to boot.

    Jack Lifton
    Aug 13 11:36 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Lies, Damned Lies and MPG Claims for the Volt [View instapost]
    John,

    This "controversy" makes me think of the World War II American admiral who while retreating from superior Japanese forces radioed "I am retiring before the enemy with all deliberate speed." I don't think the EPA or DOT is "actively complicit" in any deception of anyone other than themselves.

    I did the same calculation as you have done and came to the same conclusion.

    I have a new marketing approach for GM for the Volt:

    "The Chevrolet Volt, the car that makes decisons on travel distance for you. Never again worry about getting anywhere more distant than 40 miles in a reasonable amount of time. Let your car make the decison for you. Admire the scenery as you wait hours for a recharge, or, better yet, admire the neighborhood as you walk looking for a recharging capability in an area with which you are not familiar.

    See America the Volt Way
    In your Chevrolet
    Walking
    Aug 13 11:00 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Is the Chevy Volt Only a Fair Weather Car? [View article]
    jd-

    Whenever I say that the Chevrolet Volt is basically a souped up "golf cart" I get a torrent of personal abuse from many of my fellow Detroiters whose lives were formerly intertwined with the future of General Motors.

    In fact I frequently hear from my fellow "Detroiters" the same kind of irrelevant arguments as were written above by "Springbob" and "Trueblue." I suspect that they haven't read what I actually said, or if they have, simply, like Washington bureaucrats, 1.) Don't care about people outside of their own backtard, and 2.) Dont care about the future of Detroit or the OEM American automotive industry. I care about both.
    Aug 13 09:34 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
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