Population on a Finite World: No Vacancy.

Every niche on Earth where live is possible is fully populated to maximum capacity, and has been that way since within less than 100,000 years after life was first possible. Since then, ‘moving in’ has meant displacing the current inhabitants, in process Darwin declared “survival of the fittest”.

Is it easy to overlook that environments not fully occupied by “us” are always already fully occupied by “others”.

This is an exploration of how all environments becomes fully populated, how humanity has our current population and what we have needed to displace to get this far, and need to display to continue to displace to continue population growth.

  • Rules of Population Constraints on our finite planet.
    1. 100 doublings of population is beyond the maximum possible on Earth.
    2. If even 60 doublings were possible, even pandas or humans, could from 2 individuals within 3,000 years produce a population that would completely cover the surface of the Earth.
    3. Every living organism has had more than ample time for 100 doublings, and is normally population constrained by the limitations of a finite environment.
    4. Every niche for life, is full to capacity, except following catastrophes or major disruptions.
    5. Population growth of any species, requires environmental changes, or evolution enabling the ‘invasion’ of environment previously populated by of other species .
    6. Continued Population growth is only possible through continued reduction in populations of other species.
    7. Every species must find population stability at some point while limited to one finite planet.
  • What about humans? Are We exempt from the rules?
    • Human Population Growth, how does it continue?
    • Alternating Times of Stability and Times of Population Growth Through Technical Evolution.
    • Ignorant Displacement: Those displaced go unseen.
    • History of human population: growth steps through colonisation.

Rules of Population Constraints on our finite planet

Rule 1: 100 doublings of population is beyond the maximum possible on Earth.

Since 1 million is 1,000 times 1,000 such an organism could double its population 1,000 times in a million year timeframe, but doubling population even 100 times is more than enough for any fully populate the Earth with that organism. A doubling of population 1,000 times is , and double 63 times in 63,000 years.

The ‘wheat and chessboard problem‘ illustrates how large numbers grow by repeated doubling, also known as exponential growth.

The wheat and chessboard considers doubling 63 times, in 63 steps from step 1 to step 64, doubling each step. One grain of wheat on the first square (20=1)as the starting value, leads to 2 grains on the 2nd square (21=2), 4 on the 3rd (22=4), 8 on the 4th (23=8), all the way to 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 on the 64th and last square (263). So a single living organism would result in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 organisms after 63 doublings.

Given the total land and ocean surface area of the Earth 510,064,472 km2, and each square kilometre is 1 million square meters, the 63 steps results in 18,082 organisms per square metre of the entire surface of the Earth, which for those who do not speak metric, is over 180,000 organisms per square foot. Not very comfortable for humans, but possible for something very small or perhaps microscopic. Allowing the 100 doubling steps would generate 2,485,275,234,437,872 organisms per square metre ( over 25 quadrillion per square foot) or 2,485,275,234 organisms per square millimetre of the entire surface of the Earth.

So 100 doublings would overrun the earth even with microscopic animals:

  • 2.5 billion organisms for every square millimetre of the entire surface of the Earth, as a result of doubling 100 times.
  • …or
  • So 25 quadrillion organisms for every square foot of the entire surface of the Earth, as a result of doubling 100 times.

For larger animals such as humans, even filling the ‘chessboard’ is not required, as just 60 doublings would mean over 1,000 individuals per square metre of the entire land and ocean surface.

Rule 2: 100 doublings need not take very long, even for humans.

Relative to length of time life has existed on Earth, 100 doublings of even slow population grown animals does not add up to very long time, relative to planet over 4 billion years old.

Every organism must have a mechanism to multiply, or they could never have reached their current population level, or recover population level in the event of catastrophe or disruption. Past population growth can be used to calculate a population doubling time. For example, pandas have been shown to be able to increase population 17% in a decade. A 17% increase means 117 pandas for every 100 after 10 years. Since 1.17 to the power 4.5 is greater than 2, then pandas at that rate would double in population in 4.5 decades, which is a similar to the population growth rate to humans between 1923 and 1972.

The population growth rate for humans makes sense. If every couple has 5 children, which is below the historic average prior to the 20th century, and if 4 of those 5 children live to have their own children, then humans would double in population every generation.

But a but a doubling in population every 50 years would result in 60 doublings in just 3,000 years producing more than 1,000 individuals for every square metre of the earth, which with animals the size of either pandas or homo sapiens, would more than completely cover the surface.

For perspective, humans doubling at this rate would have seen this would have resulted in 100 doublings during the time of Ancient Egypt (over 5,000 years with almost 30 centuries as the leading civilization).

The takeaway is that every living organism, even us recently evolved homo sapiens, have had far more than enough time to double in population 100 times, and overrun the earth as a result.

Rule 3: Every living organism has had more than ample time for 100 doublings, and is normally population constrained by the limitations of a finite environment.

Every organism on Earth has had far more than sufficient time for 100 doublings of it population, but no organism has reached the incredible population number that would result if they kept doubling unconstrained.

Since, in a small time relative to how long species survive, exponential population growth can exceed the limits of the size of our finite environment on Earth, for almost the entire existence of any species, the population of the species will be at the limit possible given environmental constraints.

This means every organism has normally reached constraints that limit further population growth.

Rule 4: Excepting for shortly after catastrophes or major disruptions, every environmental niche is fully populated.

The times an organism would experience unconstrained or less constrained population growth are:

  • When a species first evolves, first reaches a new suitable environment, or evolves new traits overcoming prior constraints.
  • Following a major catastrophe or disruption that reduced the population below previous levels.
  • In the event of changes to the environment that alter constraints such as weather or climate events, or disruption of predators or competitors for resources.

As all similar environments are not necessarily connected, an organism can be new to an environment despite having existed for some time in similar environments.

When population changes are observed other a for a new species or species new to the environment, or following catastrophes or other major disruptions, the population change is as a result of changes to the constraints.

Changes to population constraints can be short term, such as weather events, long term such as ice ages and long term climate events, or the result of evolution as observed by Darwin, or evolution of technology such as stone tools, or farming.

Rule 5: Population growth of any species, requires environmental change or evolution enabling the ‘invasion’ of environment previously populated by of other species.

If every environment is fully populated, then the only way to increase population is to outcompete other species, or for the environment to expand.

Outcompeting other species requires some form of evolution, either of genetics or behaviours.

The first land plants and animals appeared about 400 million years ago, when land first became inhabitable due to the atmosphere finally having enough oxygen to block harmful radiation and provide for respiration.

Since that time, the land joined the oceans in seeing a succession of life has replaced previous forms of life, with each species that dominated a niche reaching, and then remaining at the capacity of that niche, before eventually being replaced by an improved species.

Rule 6: Continued Population growth is only possible through continued reduction in populations of other species.

The logical consequent of these rules is that growth beyond original constraints can only continue while a species can continue to partially or fully substitute for other species within their environmental niches.

Rule 7: Every species must find population stability at some point while limited to one finite planet.

Continuing to replace other species has a limit. Eventually there is only one species.

What about humans? Are We exempt from these rules?

Human Population Growth, is it still in unconstrained growth?

It could appear that human population is still growing long after we should have reached our constraints.

With the pat t of humans can appear to have broken these rules. The theory says we humans should have reached a stable population close to 300,000 years ago, at which point population growth would stop unless humans continued to evolved to become ‘fitter’ for existing or new environments.

Yet human population growth still continues as was doubling every generation as recently as between in 1965-1972, and doubling every 50 years for half of the 20th century.

This would seem to suggest humans have never reached their limit, and our population is still growing unconstrained.

But further exploration reveals this recent growth follows pervious periods of population constraints. Homo Sapiens have existed for at least 300,000 years, which is sufficient for 6,000 doublings of population, yet if there were only 2 people 300,000 years ago, the population growth to 8 people billion now represents just 32 doublings in over 300,000 years. That would be a doubling at an average rate of less than once every 9,000 years.

To take 9,000 years to double the population requires an annual growth rate of around 0.008%. A rate so close to zero growth, that is far more likely the growth has mostly effectively zero, with occasional periods of real growth.

This means, most of the time, even the human population has had zero growth as been at a constrained level. But then, sometimes even populations that have reached a previous plateaux, experience additional growth.

In fact, looking at the history of human population growth, as far back as back as we have any data, we have never before seen population growth anywhere near the level that was seen in the 20th century.

But even excluding the recent population explosion, human population growth has extended far longer than the rules suggest, unless their has been an expansion of the environment, or evolution in some form.

Alternating Times of Stability and Times of Population Growth Through Technical Evolution.

Instead of a recent series of steps of biological evolution, humans have experienced technical evolution.

A list of some notable steps includes:

Note that even during periods of population stability, from 10,000BCE to 5,000BCE and from 200 BCE to 1600AD, there was still some population growth as humans managed to colonise more locations.

Ignorant Displacement: As Population Grows, The Displaced Go Unnoticed.

Our current society has evolved the technology to be ‘the fittest’ in almost any niches, that we can maintain a higher human population than ever before. We can also, per unit land, maintain a higher population of crops and livestock to feed us than ever before.

The downside is a history of not even seeing organisms displaced population increases are introduced.

In fact, historically even other humans displaced by humans have been repeatedly overlooked and/or underestimated. Despite that experts now believe between 10 and 16 million people lived above the Rio Grande in North America prior to Europeans arriving:

Few contemporaries agreed with Catlin’s lofty estimate [16 million] of the Indian population before contact with the white man. “Twaddle about imaginary millions,” scoffed one Smithsonian expert, reflecting the prevailing view that Indians were too incompetent to have ever reached large numbers. Alexis de Tocqueville’s cheery assertion that America before Columbus was an “empty continent… awaiting its inhabitants” was endorsed by no less than the U.S. Census Bureau, which in 1894 warned against accepting Indian “legends” as facts. “Investigation shows,” the bureau said, “that the aboriginal population within the present United States at the beginning of the Columbian period could not have exceeded much over 500,000.”

How Many People Were Here Before Columbus?

Even if there were only 500,000 people before Columbus, the nature of exponential population growth tell us, that as people had been in North America for around 30,000 years, the continent would have been populated up to the level of environmental constraints. Any land mass with even 3,000 years occupation will reach the maximum population possible for that society. Yet to people from Europe, America was ‘an empty continent’. Not only did the new arrivals not understand or see that the continent would be fully populated with the current population, they even failed to recognise the size of that population.

The new arrivals failed to recognise that this ‘new world’ continent was fully populated, and that their arrival must displace those living there already. In the 30,000 years since people first arrived in America, culture in free trading European/Middle Eastern/Asian society had managed to evolve 1,000 or perhaps even 2,000 years further in terms of dominating more of the environment, increasing population density and as a result displacing other organisms. The population of many species would need to decline in order to accommodate the influence of European/Middle Eastern/Asian evolution of society.

The spread to new territory and the impact on life before that spread highlights the changes humans had over time to the environment of Europe/Middle East/Asia, displacing other species as advances made humans the most ‘fit’ for ever more niches within the environment.

Delusions Shattered And Questions Raised.

Overview.

Calculating these numbers, has shattered some illusions I had previously been misled by, but has also raised some interesting questions still to be answered.

  • Shattered Delusions:
    • Both North America and Australia were fully populated prior to the arrival of Europeans.
    • I had thought population levels have been growing because the Earth had never been populated to capacity.
      • The reality is, Earth has been populated to capacity for the hundreds of thousands of years. Population increases result from changes to society that allow humans and their food to displace other species of life on Earth.
      • The question that arises is, has the recent unprecedented population explosion stayed within the bounds of the population now supported by our changed society, or has the change to infant mortality created an ‘overshoot’ resulting in overpopulation and the environmental damage that follows.
  • Questions:
    • As already covered, has the population explosion resulted in overshoot?
    • What does natural population constraint look like?

What is the process constraining natural population?

Consider our close relatives in the wild, chimpanzees, bonobos and even gorillas. To our knowledge, none of these animals was experiencing significant population growth prior to recent population decline due to habit loss. What stopped their population expanding, given that, like all species, their birth rates can achieve population growth where the population is lower than the constraint limit? There seems no evidence that starvation is the mechanism of population control, as we do not see a percentage of chimpanzees, bonobos or gorillas starving. If starvation was the mechanism of population control it would be everywhere throughout nature.

This topic to be further explored.

Conclusion: If it isn’t already, one day the ‘farm’ will be overcrowded.

Long before the first human walked the Earth, there was already ‘no vacancy’. For humanity to even exist, we had to outcompete and displace other living things. But is it our mission to replace every living thing possible until it is just us and the food we farm?

If our mission is to perpetually deliver economic growth as opposed to wealth per person, then yes, continual population growth is the simplest path to that mission.

However it may be that at some point, it feels like humanity is being ‘farmed’ to generate wealth for a small subset of people, at some point our farm will start to feel crowded to the point of existing like battery hens, rather than having our free range.

Eliminate it? Or ‘Live With’ Covid-19 and what follows?

Is China Responsible for Covid-19, or Scapegoat?

So far around 75% of countries who have lived with Covid19, most often not by choice, and around 25% of countries have lived in the shadow of Covid-19, but through elimination, mostly without Covid-19.

Vaccinations may allow living with Covid-19 to be more palatable, but they also provide an opportunity for more countries to eliminate Covid-19.

This raises a huge question of global significance: does humanity prefer to live with Covid-19, or use immunity through vaccinations as an opportunity to eliminate the virus.

What is ‘Living with Covid-19’?

Opening up when there will still be spread: Giving up on reaching herd immunity.

More and more the phase “we have to learn to live with Covid-19” seems to appear. The suggestion is, even if cases are rising, remove Covid-19 restrictions, and allow the virus to spread as a result. Since ‘herd immunity‘ is when there are sufficient people immune that a virus will not spread, this means removing restrictions without achieving herd immunity. This means giving up, or simply not waiting to achieve herd immunity through vaccinations.

Vaccines have promised the possibility of herd immunity through vaccinations, but given herd immunity is when cases do not rise even when restrictions are removed, this is a call to not for herd immunity. Why? There are 3 possible reasons:

  1. Everyone wanting a vaccine has been vaccinated, so it is considered fair to expose the unvaccinated.
  2. It has been decided herd immunity is impossible, but as with the common cold, the disease is not sufficiently severe to justify eradication.
  3. Even if herd immunity is possible, it has been determined that with the most at risk now vaccinated, it is an acceptable risk and lower cost to achieve herd immunity through exposing the rest of the population to the disease.

The UK seems to be choosing option 3, while Israel, even with a high level of vaccinations is reimposing restrictions as with their high level of vaccinations, cases are again rising.

Which path should a country choose? Or is Option 4: “Only remove all restrictions when the virus will no longer spread”, still an option? With herd immunity, even if a person from outside starts a cluster, that cluster would die out by itself because the spread factor has dropped below one. It seems no country is there yet.

Asymptomatic Spread: Will the waves just keep coming?

Theoretical practical flattened curve (blue bar is duration of flattening).

Early in the pandemic I wrote about the much misunderstood and misrepresented ‘best practice for pandemics’ referred to as ‘flattening the curve‘. In theory there would be only two waves: One with restrictions in place, and another after restrictions are relaxed.

Yet with Covid-19 many countries have seen more waves. Is this a sign that herd immunity is impossible with Covid-19, or just that we have not reached required vaccination levels?

It is possible that with Covid-19, as being vaccinated reduces rather than eliminates the risk of spread, that herd immunity becomes impossible. The graph of worldwide cases has at least three peaks, but these were largely driven by peaks in the the US (Jan 2021), India (April 2021) and a current rise that must turn into a peak driven by many countries together, rather than the whole world having three peaks together.

More disturbingly the US, Israel, and Japan are all heading for their 5th peak, the UK its 4th. Many other countries have also had a sequence of peaks that would be expected from an outbreak managed using a ‘stop-go’ containment plan of continually deliberately letting cases rise in order to achieve herd immunity by infection. Instead of this being by design, all these countries again rising cases again now as a result of more infectious strains of the virus. Herd immunity is proving elusive, likely because with Covid-19, vaccination is may not create sufficient immunity for herd immunity.

The Case for elimination, and against living with Covid-19:

Blaming China won’t stop outbreaks like Covid-19, and we can expect more pandemics.

It is popular to blame China for Covid-19. Trump even pointedly called it the ‘China virus’. However, perhaps blaming China is a way to avoid admitting that 21st century society is a hot bed for pandemics.

Really it, the evidence shows pandemics are becoming more frequent, and the most likely source of Covid-19, our 21st century society of almost 8 billion extremely mobile humans crowded onto one finite planet, it not going away and statistically will soon add another pandemic. It we don’t get ride of this one, we could soon have two to deal with at once. Should we just live with an ever increasing number of pandemic level viruses circulating?

UNESCO welcomes the release of the latest expert report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) which establishes the links between biodiversity loss and the increase in pandemic risk factors. This scientific report highlights that the current COVID-19 crisis, which it has its origins in microbes carried by animals, and the previous global health pandemics all have one thing in common:  their emergence is entirely driven by human activities.

Unesco: 29/10/2020

Analysis of the origin of the virus does suggest China was the origin, but that given that no one blamed the 1918 flu on the USA, nor did they blame 2009 ‘swine flu’ pandemic on the USA, even though both appear to have began in the USA, blaming China just because that is where the first case occurred would seem a double standard.

Plus, the worst outbreak in Australia during 2020 clearly was imported from the US, and variants though to have originated in the UK, South Africa, Brazil and particularly India have taken over now as the source of concern. So why should we blame China?

We don’t blame the county where a virus starts because it could have happened anywhere.

Or could it have happened anywhere? Isn’t there a suggesting China is the ‘bad guy’ with this outbreak?

In reality. No. There is a slight chance bad management by China made the outbreak worse, and even a minute and highly unlikely chance accidentally released a virus that was already in nature and able to cause a pandemic, but even these unlikely scenarios do not change the underlying source: nature.

And it is not just my analysis, here is a review by the Sydney University scientist who was first in the world to isolate the virus: Leading biologists publish review of SARS-CoV-2 origin evidence – The University of Sydney

China gets blamed because it is good for social media, and good for politics, even in China!

Social media is gets engagement and thus revenue through outrage, and blaming China creates outrage against China, and outrage against those who blame China. Politically, leaders get better approval when there is an ‘enemy’, and blaming China allows American leaders to appear strong against China, and having the world blame China allows Chinese leaders to position China as being oppressed by the west and generate increased nationalism. Perhaps politically it is Chinese leaders who benefit most from China being blamed.

But none of this changes the reality, that there is a reason people where waring of just such a pandemic, and they were even movies about the scenario just before it happened: human society has created the breeding ground for pandemics.

And if we ‘live’ with this pandemic causing virus, we cannot be at all sure it will remain the only one we are living with at once.

Living with Covid-19 is not like living with another influenza: Its far, far worse.

Earlier this month, the Australian government announced a four-phase plan to return us to something resembling normality. Under this plan, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, we will eventually treat COVID-19 “like the flu”.

The hope is vaccines will allow us to live with some transmission without many people getting seriously ill or dying.

But death and hospitalisation aren’t the only outcomes of COVID-19 we need to prevent. New research shows even young people can be left with chronic health problems after infection.

COVID-19 will always be a very different disease to the flu. We should aim to stamp it out like measles, not let it spread.

Dr Zoë Hyde: Epidemiologist, University of Western Australia.

I suggest reading the full article by Dr Zoë Hyde entitled: No, we can’t treat COVID-19 like the flu. We have to consider the lasting health problems it causes. In fact, since it is under creative commons, republish the article.

While there are politicians who suggest that, once the population is sufficiently vaccinated, Covid-19 could become “like the flu”, this is unrealistic claim is typically by those politicians have found the pandemic has improved their chances or re-election, and not something an actual expert would say.

The UK has not reached target levels of vaccination, but when considering most of the unvaccinated in the UK are in age groups of greatest socialisation and least likely to have shown symptoms if infected, the percentage of the population who are likely to have immunity is likely to be close to the maximum percentage that would be achieved by population alone. Despite this, many warn of the consequences of deciding to ‘live with’ Covid-19.

Without elimination, we are ramping up the virus incubator: a completely batty idea.

The most common source of pandemics are viruses that evolve in bats. So many viruses evolve in bats because bats have live with a lot of viruses. Humans living with Covid-19, means another population living with a dangerous virus, and therefore another factory to produce new viruses. The total number of bats in the world is unknown, but even if it does exceed the number of humans, human contact between humans is far higher than human contact with bats. Plus, a vaccinated population living with a virus is like a challenge to evolution “solve the problem of how to thrive in vaccinated hosts”.

Even living with Covid-19 in just 2021 poses a threat of creating ‘variant factories‘.

The chance of future pandemics will be far higher if we are living with dangerous viruses in the not just the bat population, but also the human population.

Living with Covid-19 the virus may mean a partially brain damaged population.

Being vaccinated means statistically means exposure to the virus in the vast majority of cases will not result in symptoms, however this does not mean zero copies of the virus, and does not ensure a person will not test positive or suffer ‘long covid’.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) cases in the UK are soaring, with the latest daily figure for 9 July showing at 35,707 cases. Leading scientists and clinicians are saying the government’s plan to ease lockdown on 19 July is both “dangerous” and “unethical”. But Johnson is sticking to his plan, which is herd immunity in all but name. Meanwhile, recent studies reveal that damage to brain tissue could be yet another consequence of long Covid.

Boris Johnson toys with herd immunity despite evidence linking long Covid to brain damage.

I do not believe the above article is suggesting Boris Johnson has brain damage as a result of his well know case of Covid-19, but there is the suggestion that opening up the UK is somewhat irrational. Then again, while only a small percentage of the electorate would have brain damage after 1 year of Covid-19, it is unknown how high that percentage would be after 10 or 20 years of a population living with Coivd-19. Apart from jokes about how a brain damaged population may help some political candidates, there is a serious side to the dangers of a long term experiment exposing the population to a dangerous virus, year after year, even if respiratory symptoms are known to be in almost all cases at the worst very mild in vaccinated people, when other affects are not yet known.

Children, currently not even vaccinated, could be subjected year after year for their entire lifetime.

Economic Cost of Living with Covid-19.

Start with the economic cost of influenza, which in the US alone in 2014 was estimated at more than $87 billion dollars annually. Then add the cost of ‘long covid’, vaccinating the entire population repeatedly, and trying to prevent outbreaks from vaccine resistant strains. Even in the best possible scenario, living with Covid-19 would be extremely costly, and the costs would continue year after year, while if Covid-19 is eliminated, annual costs would also be eliminated.

The ‘Flu’ is not that great to live with either, why would be want another worse version?

The Influenza virus mutates so frequently that it is more difficult to vaccinate against than Covid-19. With vaccines, we can lower the illness and mortality levels from Covid-19 to be comparable to those with influenza. But this is not like for like, this is that after vaccinating the entire population, we still have what is quite a big problem. Influenza and not something we want to live with either, and researchers are working to try find way to eradicate influenza, not add another problem just as bad.

It would be far better to ask “can we also eradicate influenza”, than “it is ok to have another one”.

The case for living with Covid-19, and against elimination.

Economic Cost of Elimination.

The main argument against elimination is that it requires the use of lockdowns, and these reduce economic activity. While living with the disease comes at cost to society and has an economic cost, a disease can even generate economic activity, while lockdowns used for elimination also eliminate economic activity and increase the enemy of economic activity: unpaid work.

Similarly, during lockdown during a pandemic, even if the same number of meals are eaten during the lockdown, if none of the meals are purchased at a restaurant, the result is a disaster for the economy.

On the other hand, if a pandemic makes retired people ill, there is increased economic activity through the medical services. If some die, then there is economic activity for the funeral system, although this is better there are no limits on people attending.

Economic Activity vs Wealth Production.

Note also that while a long pandemic may cause economic hardship for many, the wealthiest 5% of society tend to get wealthy during a pandemic. There are some very wealthy people with big marketing budgets who will lose wealth if Covid-19 is eliminated.

The combined worth of Australian billionaires was assessed to be 52.4% higher this week than at the same time last December.

By comparison, billionaires in the US and UK recorded an increase of about 25% over the same period, the Bloomberg index shows.

The Labor frontbencher Andrew Leigh said the figures “remind us of the importance of tackling inequality, which is significantly higher in Australia than it was a generation ago”.

“Those increases are remarkable,” the shadow assistant minister for Treasury and charities told Guardian Australia.

“Any of your readers would be punching the air if they had enjoyed a 20% increase in their wealth, and they would be double fist-pumping the air if they had a 50% increase, and yet that’s the story for the typical Australian billionaire.”

Australia’s billionaires became 50% richer during pandemic: Guardian (msn alt link)

Elimination is too hard.

Approximately 25% of the countries in the world have managed to eliminate the spread of Covid-19. Given that means it has been circulating in 75% of countries, then Covid-19 outbreaks keep happening in starting in the countries that have elimination, and each time these countries need to eliminate Covid-19 all over again.

It has been proven to be possible over and over again to eliminate Covid-19. The problem in keeping it eliminated is that the majority of countries are not yet even trying, so international travellers continue to re-introduce the virus.

Australia mid 2021: A Case study in elimination.

I will update this as the story unfold, but as previous described in July 2021: Vaccines or not, its not over yet, Australia has recently had an a new outbreak of the delta variant of Covid-19. Eliminating the delta virus, in a population with only less than 9% level of vaccination, in a country where a greater percentage of the population living in cities than in the USA or UK, will be a challenge. However if this can be managed, than most other countries should be able to also managed elimination, at least once vaccination rates are higher.

This outbreak started in a country previously free of local transmission of the virus, from a single case of infection of a driver transporting international flight crews to their hotels in Sydney. One of more flight crew passengers must have passed the infection of the delta strain through to the driver.

In the fully open city of Sydney, the driver visiting shopping centres and other venues before having symptoms and getting tested. This triggered an outbreak predominantly in the eastern suburbs of Sydney which after two weeks of ‘whack a mole’ resulted in a lockdown for Sydney. ‘Whack a mole’ because by the time the outbreak in the Eastern Suburbs appeared was under control, there was a new outbreak in the South Western suburbs of Sydney. Following the first case being detected on June 17th, there was a delay of 9 days until the first lockdown began, possibly to first allow the school term to complete. Initially the lockdown was to last 2 weeks and end before school returned, but this was extended due to that ‘whack a mole’ effect seeing cases rise in the second location even during the light lockdown.

Then 3 infected removalists travelled to Melbourne and were part of spreading the virus to Australia’s second largest city, before travelling to a third state capital, Adelaide. Before the spread to Melbourne was detected, the worst had already happened, and infected person had infected others at a crowded football match.

Now on July 16th, over 8 million Australians, in the cities of Sydney and Melbourne are in lockdown.

Conclusion.

To be added.

July 2021: Vaccines or Not, Its Not Over Yet.

  • June/July 2021: Covid-19 may seem to be under control- but we are not there yet.
  • The World Picture: Snapshots Of Instability.
    • India: First Impact Site of Delta, and a dramatic recovery?
    • UK: Reopening, seriously?
    • US: A mystery to the decline in cases?
    • Israel: 80% immunity and still not enough!
    • Japan: A problem Olympics.
  • So Where Are We Now? Vaccines don’t mean it is over!
    • Vaccination Levels by Country.
    • Pandemic Severity By Country: July 2021.
    • Vaccination can even make things worse?
  • Alternative Strategies: Should we just live with the virus?
Continue reading “July 2021: Vaccines or Not, Its Not Over Yet.”

Relativity Simple: Understanding Einstein’s Theory.

See things in a different way.

Understanding relativity provides a completely different perspective in looking at everything in the world around us. Although, some the maths and other details are complex, those maths and details are not required to grasp fundamental concepts, that change the view of the world around us forever. The biggest challenge is that if you have thought of things from one perspective for your entire life until now, it takes time for the concepts to become natural, even when they are simple. Allow a couple of days. The key to relativity, is understanding gravity, which plays a bigger role in our everyday life than E=mc2 , which explains very little.

  • Understanding Relativity.
    • Step 1: Forget E=mc2, just think about relative motion.
    • Step 2: Frames of reference: Nothing is ‘absolute’, everything is relative.
    • Step 3: Review Free Fall vs Zero Gravity.
    • Step 4: Re-consider how gravity works.
      • Newton.
      • Einstein.
    • Step 5: Spacetime, four dimensions and one (time) keeps changing.
    • Step 6: Gravity as curved spacetime, and not a force.
    • Step 7: Thee Full Picture, The Effect of Gravity.
    • Conclusion.

I am going to collect some feedback on this, and then will add more.

Continue reading “Relativity Simple: Understanding Einstein’s Theory.”

Motor Vehicle Superpowers: Transforming Humans.

Continue reading “Motor Vehicle Superpowers: Transforming Humans.”

Coffee: How much is a good thing?

There is conventional wisdom: too many cups of coffee can be bad for you. There are also a surprising number of of extremely rigorous reports confirming a certain number of cups of coffee per day may be a good thing. What is most often missing is the definition of ‘a cup’, given that long ago I learnt that the amount of caffeine in a ‘cup of coffee’ can vary by a factor of 10x.

Background.

Years ago I was looking to move from a capsules style coffee machine to an expresso machine which would make changing between regular and decaffeinated coffee more difficult. This triggered a research project: is decaffeinated coffee worth bothering with anyway? Apart from the pros and cons of decaf, the big thing I learnt is that the caffeine in a ‘cup of coffee’ can range from 40mg to over 400mg, which is from the same amount as a cup of tea, to the same amount as 10 cups of tea. Note that a ‘grande’ is 470ml (16 fl oz) and a shot of expresso is around 30 ml, so technically per ml there is more caffeine in the expresso, at least until frothed milk of a latte or cappuccino, or additional hot water of a long coffee is added. Surprisingly, ‘per cup’, expresso has the lowest level of caffeine of the common ways of having coffee.

On this page I will collect information on what is in a ‘cup of coffee’, as well as the research into positive and negative claims in the the impact on health. Plus, I encountered some questions as to how long coffee drinking will remain affordable. Early days, but information will grow.

The case for ‘drink coffee and live longer’.

The Data.

This large prospective cohort study of a half million people found inverse associations for coffee drinking with mortality [that is coffee drinkers had less deaths], including among participants drinking 1 up to 8 or more cups per day. No differences were observed in analyses that were stratified by genetic polymorphisms affecting caffeine metabolism.

JAMA- Journal of the American Medical Association report.

They followed a group of 1,567 people, aged 20 years and older, over an 18-year period.

The initial data came from the Valencia Nutritional Study, which was conducted in 1994. It assessed a range of food groups, including drinks, such as coffee.

Their findings suggest that drinking between one and six-and-a-half cups of coffee per day can lower your risk of cancer and what scientists call “all-cause” mortality (meaning, any kind of death).

DW (Deustche Welle) – Spanish study shows coffee still good for your health

There is a body of evidence that some of the side effects of coffee may actually be good for you, and they appear to have nothing to do with caffeine. But Dr Karl Kruszelnicki’s grind is the observational studies that make up the ‘statistics’ behind the health benefits.

Dr Karl Kruszelnicki: July 2016 (other comments quoted here)

Is this scientific?

The Spanish study reported in the above quote, is one I specifically was looking for a reference on, as it is have been widely peer reviewed, has a large sample size, and studied over an 18 year period. However, even that study does not match best scientific principles, because there is a limit to the ability to experiment on humans. To follow ‘best practice’, it is necessary to take the sample group at random, without regard to their existing coffee habits, and randomly divide into two subgroups. One subgroup would consume a placebo that is indistinguishable from coffee for the period of the trial, and the other group would consume coffee, and no one would know which group they are in. There are many reasons this type of trial would be neither practical, nor ethical.

Without the ‘double blind’ type rigour, there are limits to what can be inferred from the data. Since the participants are people who choose to drink coffee, they may already be different in other ways than non-coffee drinkers. Are they at the same wealth level? Are they more social? Still, all things considered, the weight of data is very compelling, and especially compelling with to reduction in diabetes levels. However, the adage still applies: correlations is not causation.

More Links.

Just what is in ‘a cup’ of coffee?

A Cup of Coffee.

Well, not literally. There is a recipe for what we call a ‘cup of coffee’.

Start with beans from a coffee plant. The beans go through steps of being pulped, fermented, dried, and milled, before finally being roasted. It is a lot of steps. Some time after roasting, grind the coffee. As soon as possible after grinding, run hot water through the ground coffee to extract the ‘essence’ of the coffee, which includes caffeine, and at least 20 other chemicals, many of which may be as significant as caffeine in terms of flavour, health and even staying awake.

So a ‘coffee drink’ is mostly water, infused by extracts from coffee. Then there is most often added cream or milk, plus possibly sweetener.

Why Expresso is different.

Coffee made as expresso has a different mix of what is extracted from the beans. Almost all other methods of making coffee ‘pour’ boiling, or even slightly above boiling temperature, water over the ground coffee. Generally, the water must be as hot as possible to ensure sufficient extraction. With the goal of changing the balance of extracts from t coffee, the expresso process uses lower temperature water, and compensates by first compressing the coffee and forcing the less than boiling water through the packed ground coffee grinds under pressure. Using lower temperature water means that just adding cold milk or water would result in a tepid drink, so milk is heated by ‘frothing’ before being added to expresso. However by using heated frothed milk, far milk can be added without resulting a tepid drink. The result is that expresso coffees such as a latte or cappuccino may have a greater percentage of milk that is common with other coffee drinks.

How Much Caffeine per cup?

I will add some comparison data between filter, French press etc, but the main focus will be on determining caffeine per cup of expresso, as there are many variables.

Expresso is lower in caffeine and the oils that contain the caffeine, due to the reduced extraction temperature and the use of pressure, which changed the mix of what is extracted from the beans. Expresso can be extracted at a range of temperatures, usually 90C to 95C, and collect and add data a I find it. But I will start with what I recall from previous research.

The following all affect the amount of caffeine:

  • Beans.
  • Roast.
  • Grind.
  • Tamping pressure.
  • Extraction Temperature.

Arabica beans are lower in caffeine than Robusta beans, although these days almost all beans are Arabica.

I will dig around and add links and sources of information. I will start with what I recall from my original research, and add references as I find them. One of my first sources was study that found that at a Starbucks coffee outlet, a ‘Grande’ of regular filter coffee had 400mg of caffeine, while an expresso from the same location had only 41mg of caffeine. (this section still to be completed)

Decaf Anyone?

To be added. Is there any benefit to opting for decaf?

Objections? Any health case against coffee?

I am still to research this fully.

Sidebar: Experiences with coffee at home.

This section also to be added, but only of interest to anyone considering making expresso at home, and finding yet another persons experience interesting.

Is there enough? Coffee drinking is spreading, will it remain affordable?

The US is around 25th in a table of coffee drinking nations, and on average people in the US drink between 1/2 to 1/3 as much coffee per year as those in Scandinavia. The Finns, who drink 3x as much coffee as Americans, do also have a longer life expectancy, but not as long as Japanese, who have almost caught the US coffee consumption per capita, but are not there yet. The longer life cannot not be attributed just to coffee, but the coffee is certainly not killing the Finns either. So what if the world all consumed coffee at the same rate, not as the Finns, but as the more moderate Americans, who themselves, might live a little longer if they drank more?

The US consumption is listed on that table as 9.26 lbs (4.200kgs) per capita per year, and I have this data on total worldwide coffee production as 172.46 million 60 kg bags in 2019. Using the 9.26lbs per capita:

4.200 * 328 million / 60 = 23 million 60 kg bags.

Yet direct data from statistica shows actual US consumption at 26.5 bags. Close, but suggesting either not all coffee bags purchased are consumed, with 13% of the coffee not being consumed. In reality this, may also be discrepancy between sources of data.

Now consider if the entire globe of people in 2019 had equal access to those 172.46 million 60kg coffee bags produced globally, then multiplying the number of bags by the ratio of people in the US(0.323 billion) compared to the rest of the world (7.5 billion): would allocate only 7.7 million 60 kg bags to the US.

177.46 * (328,231,337 / 7,543,334,085) = 7.72

As 7.72 million bags is less than 1/3 of the coffee the US currently consumes, the poorer nations gaining wealth to the point where the level of coffee consumed in the US, which is 1/3 of that in Finland and possibly below the ideal consumption, became the global ‘typical’ level, then coffee production must increase threefold, or people in richer countries reduce their coffee consumption. The average US coffee drinker would drop from 2.9 cups per day, to less than 1 cup per day, or more realistically, the price of coffee rises until only 1/3 of current coffee drinkers can still aford coffee.

Factor in the expected population growth in the next few decades and their seems a very real risk that coffee will become a more scarce commodity as some countries more people will be able to afford and want to drink coffee in line with current trends, but finding land to grow three or even four times as much coffee is not really practical, given all the competing demands for more land..

This figures is less than means, even to reach Just to be conservative, using the using the lower figure of 23.18 show This matches closely with the statistic direct data

Conclusion.

Those advocating population is not a problem will typically promote how there is no danger of the world starving, as we can easily produce sufficient wheat to feed an even bigger population. But what is our ability to provide ‘optional’ products for the world such as chocolate, or coffee? The reality is, we can provide more than enough wheat, which means those who are is less developed countries, and all addition people added through population growth, remain on a very basic diet and do not consume commodities such as coffee or chocolate, standards of living in the west can remain at current levels. However, people in China, India and elsewhere in Asia and Africa and developing nations continue, well developing, commodities and such as coffee and chocolate are going to move in the direction of housing, and become only accessible by the rich. The more people the world adds, the greater the challenge.

So if you are over 40, then consider multiple cups of coffee per day may even lengthen your life. But if younger, then maybe best not to start a habit that may become too expensive.

WTF? UFOs are Real? (OK, UAPs or Unidentified Aerial Phenomena)

The answer is: Something is real.

The US military is, for the first time, sharing that they really do have UFO/UAP sightings that they cannot explain.

It is easy to underestimate the significance of this revelation. There is even at least the appearance of deliberate efforts to downplay the significance. But this revelation, at some level changes our understanding of the universe. Every possible explanation sounds crazy. All of them. Yet at least one must be real.

The video to the left, shows President (2018-2016) Obama confirming there is something real and unexplained, and Marco Rubio (from the other side of politics) also confirms there is something real. A report to the US congress will be released June 2021, outlining what has been for many years covered up. The public is finally being told at least part of what is happening.

It turns out, that for decades, we have been kept in the dark. It also turns out that there is far more data than would have been expected. This doesn’t mean there are aliens, but it certainly means there is something that fundamentally changes our understanding of the universe that has been hidden.

Continue reading “WTF? UFOs are Real? (OK, UAPs or Unidentified Aerial Phenomena)”

EV Batteries Reference: Benefits & Technologies.

F150 Lightning – 2022 Price competitive pickup?

Batteries for EVs have progressed being expensive and while delivering impractical range, to less expensive and with just acceptable range, but only now showing signs they can soon enable price completive EVs with range that inspires confidence.

Introduction.

What do I mean ‘Battery’?

I use the term battery to mean something acts as storage of electrical energy, and although I rarely state ‘rechargeable battery’ I when I use the term ‘battery’, it can be taken to mean ‘rechargeable battery’.

The term ‘battery’ has evolved over time, and my interpretation is that mobile phones and electric vehicles have made rechargeable batteries so common that we no longer need bother saying ‘rechargeable’ depending on the context.

The original electric batteries were called ‘batteries’ because they had a ‘number of similar articles’ where each article was an electrical cell. But now we even have single cell batteries, which given that ‘battery’ originally meant ‘a number of similar articles‘, is a little contradictory. Meanings change, and the meaning of ‘battery’ is still evolving. The word ‘battery’ still can be used for a ‘battery of guns’ or a ‘battery of tests’ or batteries of other things, but without the ‘of something’ we now take ‘battery’ to mean storage of electricity.

Some people feel it is only a battery if the energy is stored internally as one or more chemical ‘cells’, but I would argue that it does not matter how the electrical energy is stored, to most people it is battery because of the function, not how it achieves that function. So in general use, anything that holds energy for later use as electricity, can be considered a battery. So even a capacitor can be considered a battery.

Single Use vs Rechargeable Batteries: For Vehicles, ‘battery’ means ‘rechargeable’.

Depending on context, the term ‘battery’ can be assumed to means ‘single use battery’ or ‘rechargeable battery’. If someone says “do you have AA batteries”, single use batteries are usually assumed unless it is specifically stated that the batteries are ‘rechargeable’. However, with mobile phones, automobiles and battery electric vehicles, battery is assumed to be ‘rechargeable’. We never say ‘rechargeable car battery’, or ‘rechargeable mobile phone battery’ because these batteries are always assumed to be ‘rechargeable’ batteries.

On this page, and all pages related to EVs, ‘battery’ is taken to mean ‘rechargeable battery’ unless specifically stated otherwise. In many ways, single use batteries have more in common with gasoline as as source of energy than with rechargeable batteries. With both gasoline and single use batteries, energy supplies are replenished by adding a new supply of the original chemicals. With (rechargeable) batteries, the battery is restored to the original state by putting energy back into the battery, and no new ingredients are required. The battery itself is ‘renewable’ rather than replaceable.

Batteries and the Price of Electric Vehicles.

There was a time when computers less powerful than what is today a low priced home computer filled rooms, cost millions of dollars and were something normal people imagined having at home. There was a time in the 1980s and early 1990s when mobile phones could cost $4,000 or $5,000 and normal people did not imagine ever owning one.

The bad news is electric vehicles are not about to go through that type of price crash. Just the batteries, which in a 2021 EV is around 50% of the price.

The power for all current engines always comes from chemical energy.

All current vehicles are powered by chemical reactions. Internal combustion engines are powered by the heat from a chemical reaction between gasoline/petrol or diesel or hydrogen with oxygen, and electric vehicles are powered by electricity generated by a reaction between the chemicals inside the battery, or for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity.

Rechargeable Gasoline, Refuellable Lithium: Both Technically Possible.

In a gasoline engine, the main chemical reaction is:

gasoline + oxygen -> CO2 + Water + energy(heat)

While there are some ‘burnt impurities’, and the heat is so intense that some nitrogen is also burnt, the components listed above are those that are needed for the engine to work.

In theory, if the tailpipe emissions of CO2 and water were retained, then instead of refuelling it would possible to run add heat back into the ingredients, and thus run the equation in reverse:

CO2 + Water + energy -> gasoline + oxygen

This would result in a sustainable internal combustion engine vehicle. Of course, there are some problems. This is not an easy reaction to run in reverse, and as internal combustion engines are so inefficient there is a lot of energy needed to reverse that reaction. But if we could add a ‘recharger’ that took the emissions from an internal combustion engine, and a source of heat from a recharging station, we would mimic many of the important qualities of an electric vehicle. Also, instead of needing the exact right fuel, the heat could be generated however we want, as heat is always heat.

Similarly, a lithium iron battery also runs a chemical reaction, only this is two half reactions at each side of the battery:

1)  LiCoO2 -> CoO2 + Li+ + e-(electrical energy)
2)  Li+ + 6C + e- -> LiC6

Where the Li+ electrolyte is in a solvent that can flow between cathode and anode. You will often see these formulas with a bi-directional arrow, because taking the electrical energy out makes the reaction go one way (discharge), but adding the electricity back makes the reaction goes the other way (recharge). At ‘recharge time’, instead of putting electrical energy back, it is technically possible to simply take out the CoO2 (Cobalt dioxide) and LiC6 (lithium graphite) as exhaust, refresh the electrolyte, and put in new LiCo2 (lithium cobalt dioxide) and C (graphite), replacing the chemicals as we are doing when refuelling a gasoline car. By replacing the chemicals, the car would be ready to go again without the time delay of recharging.

The problem with this is that for every battery chemistry, there are different chemicals, which would mean there would need to be range of ‘fuels’ even more diverse than the different octane ratings we have for gasoline/petrol. Plus, not everything is in the convenient liquid form.

In the end, there are good reasons why no one is going to actually recharge a gasoline fuelled vehicle with heat, and nor is anyone going to refill the chemicals for a battery vehicle, but contemplating what would be needed highlights the differences between the nature of the systems.

The approach with gasoline is to continually run chemical reactions with chemicals that are preloaded with energy (gasoline and oxygen), runs the reaction once and then discard results of the reaction as exhaust. The entire system was conceived at a time when the very concept of ‘renewable’ appeared unnecessary. The inputs are the specific chemicals required by the reaction.

The battery approach keeps the outputs of the reaction, and allows resetting everything back to the original conditions through the use of energy that itself can be renewable. For the life of the battery, the only input is energy.

The Benefits of Batteries.

Electric vs Chemical Input: Ultimate Flexibility.

Chemical (e.g. gasoline) Refuelling is inherently inflexible.

An combustion engine without a ‘recharging system’ which can return the ingredients to their original state, requires an exact ingredients the engine is designed around. Fortunately, of the two ingredients of a gasoline engine, the oxygen is readily available from the air. However gasoline (or diesel), must be mined and then refined to quite precise formulation required by the engine. Without gasoline, which is only available by way of one specific supply system, the engine cannot be used.

A battery vehicle can use any source for the energy. Not only is the mains electrical system that is normally used as the source of energy available at almost every dwelling in the developed world, it is also possible to provide energy from solar or wind. Even in the most remote location, it is possible to generate electricity from natural sources without any need to locate specific chemicals. With enough time people could even hand crank a small amount of electricity. This allows for vehicles such as the Aptera, or the Lightyear One, that can travel normal commuter distances each day on a days solar energy alone.

Since batteries are recharged by energy, rather than the chemicals inside the battery that react to produce the energy when it is needed, how the battery stores energy can change, with no impact on refuelling. The reactions above are for ‘conventional’ lithium-cobalt-graphite batteries that have been used in most mobile phones and electric vehicles so far, but already different battery chemistries are being introduced, with phosphorous having already replaced cobalt in BYD batteries, and also being introduced by Panasonic.

Supply Security and Sovereignty.

Moving from requiring one specific chemical formulation for fuel, to requiring electrical energy, is moving to almost total fexibilty.

While a specific chemical formulation can only be satisfied by obtaining that exact fuel, any form of energy can be converted into electrical energy.

You can source electrical energy from solar, or wind, or tidal forces, from hydro or from waves, as well as from any fossil fuel. Any of these sources and more can be used to produce electricity. If you have energy, you can produce electricity, while the gasoline or diesel required by an internal combustion engine can only be produced by an oil refinery, which in turn requires a specific resource which is far from universal and requires complex equipment to extract when it is found.

If society is without electricity, the ability to power vehicles is not the most immediate problem, and of this reason, solutions to problems in electricity supply are numerous and well tested. Any supply problems are will almost always be local, and with an EV, the vehicle may even be able to out and get more power and bring it home. With electricity, there is no need to be at the mercy of foreign states able to impact supply.

Upcoming Products.

Under battery technologies below, there are several new products and their proposed timelines. However, this is not car companies announcing products. Those will appear here:

Tesla 4680 Battery.

Battery Theory.

Terminology: Cathode, Anode, Electrode etc..

A note on terminology as it can be confusing, particularly the terms ‘cathode’ and ‘anode’ when discussing rechargeable batteries. The cathode is the terminal from which current flows, and the anode is where the current arrives. Since currents flow in the opposite direction during use of battery power or ‘discharge’ than current flows during ‘recharge’, each physical part of a rechargeable battery swaps roles. So the cathode during use, becomes the anode during recharge. This causes much confusion, and I have seen several videos and sites that get confused by this and think one side of the battery is the ‘cathode’ and the other is the ‘anode’ at all times, not realising this changes. Also note to make things even more confusing, electrons flow in the opposite direction to current. For these reasons, I will stick to a simpler ‘positive electrode’ and ‘negative electrode’ in any explanations.

Charge Time.

Chemical batteries are limited in the speed they can absorb charge, but recharge points are also limited in the speed they can supply charge. Fuel tanks for gasoline and diesel vehicles can absorb fuel ‘instantly’, but it still takes some time to refuel. This is because pumps only pump fuel at a finite speed. The flow.

For comparison consider diesel vehicles. There are special ‘high flow’ pumps for large trucks that can deliver fuel so fast that the fuel will go everywhere instead on just into the tank if these ‘high flow’ pumps are used with vehicles not specially designed. The tank can take fuel ‘instantly’, but the hose from the fuel filler to the tank can only manage a certain speed. Trucks can use a really big hose to handle a higher speed, but that is also limited by the maxium rate the fuel pump hose can handle. So there are three contraints:

  1. Gas/diesel pump speed.
  2. Hose from fuel filler point on car/truck to tank.
  3. Tank maximum fill speed (no problem with gasoline or diesel tanks)

With electrical vehicles, chemical batteries normally do have an effective limit on how fast ‘the tank can be filled’, but the other two limitations also apply:

  1. Charging Station maximum power rating.
  2. Car/truck connector and cabling to battery maximum power rating.
  3. Battery maximum ‘fill’ (recharge) speed.

This means that even with future battery technologies that do not limit battery recharge speed, refilling will still not be instant, just as refilling a large truck today is not instant. Currently the fastest chargers have a maximum power rating 350kw, so a 100kw/hr battery would need 100/350 hours or 17 minutes to recharge. The Hyundai Ioniq 5, one of the fastest charging vehicles of 2021, can recharge 75% of an 53kw/hr battery in 18 minutues, so just under half the maximum possible.

Battery charging could in future rival times for filling liquid fuelled vehicles, but they still wont be instant and it doesn’t just depend on the vehicle.

Battery Life.

Batteries can be replaced, as shown on this video. While the battery structure with dedicated EVs is often currently integrated into the vehicle, and the replacement is specific to the vehicle, the process is simpler than replacing an engine in an internal combustion engine vehicle, and making 3rd party replacements should be easier.

One one hand, batteries are improving so rapidly including lifespan, that already we are seeing batteries that may outlast the normal life of a motor vehicle, but on the other hand, batteries are improving so rapidly that batteries also become obsolete before they will fail.

And as I said before, with batteries, it looks they’re going to start lasting way longer than the vehicles, which means you can amortize the cost of the battery over three vehicle lifetimes right, so where there were its going to land on batteries right now like no one has any idea. It’s really a strange time to be in this industry. And with the mineral resource issues and mining stories coming out about lithium extraction, your going to see more attention being put to battery technology. I think were going to see some interesting alternatives coming out here pretty quickly. Especially on the solid state side of things, you’re going to see some interesting breakthroughs.

Aptera CTO Nathan Armstrong.

The off the cuff remarks quoted above convey the contradiction that while batteries may now last longer than the car, they may be the first part of the car to be out of date. Fortunately, replacing the batteries can be practical, and as batteries improve, replacing them can result in a vehicle that becomes even better than when new. When batteries are replaced, the materials are valuable and recycling is possible.

Battery Technologies.

(this section still being updated)

The benefit of all batteries being charged by electricity and output electricity, is that how batteries work internally can be changed with no impact on the infrastructure to recharge. This means that what we have now is only a starting point, and there are many potential improvements to charging times, cost, lifespan, safety and environmental impact still to come.

If you had a million dollars to invest in a battery company, right like right now where would you put your money, right, like it’s changing so quickly and every six months there is a new technology it doesn’t quite make it to market but you know it threatens to kind of like you know change the whole industry again, um so battery technology is a really weird one, right, like we have these lithium cells so they’re pretty good um five years from now they’re going to be way better different chemistry 10 years from now something different again so we are trying to be king of battery agonistic.

Aptera CTO Nathan Armstrong.

Li Ion

Despite first being developed back 1970, mass manufacture of lithium ion batteries is relatively recent. The first commercial battery products did not appear until 1991. If you are old enough to recall older mobile phones had first nickel cadmium batteries (invented in 1899), and then nickel metal hydride batteries, with both of these older battery types having a ‘memory effect’.

Cobalt Lithium Ion: Since 1970

Electric vehicles so far have mostly used lithium ion cobalt oxide ion batteries (LiCoO2) as described here and first developed in the 1970s. Lithium is highly reactive which would make significant amounts of pure lithium dangerous, so cobalt is combined with lithium to form LiCoO2 as a container to hold the lithium more safely in a less chemically active form. Cobalt is not rare, but cobalt in the form that is lowest cost to extract is found almost exclusively in the Congo, creating a supply chain risks, and at times as much of 10% of that Cobalt being mined, has been mined using unsafe practices. In batteries with cobalt, the cobalt becomes the main factor in the cost of the battery.

Phosphorous: In passenger EVs since 2020.

Lithium ion phosphate batteries (LiFePO4), are an alternative to using cobalt that reduces battery cost and results in a safer battery.

Historically, despite being less expensive and longer life, lithium ion phosphate batteries (LiFePO4) have had lower energy density than cobalt based batteries, which limited their use to busses and larger vehicles. However, several companies now have solutions to the energy density, which allows a price, safety and lifespan breakthrough from lithium phosphate batteries such as the BYD blade battery.

Graphene: Future (September 2021?).

Although originally observed in electron microscopes in 1962 as occurring on suppotive metal surfaces, graphene isolated and fully analysed for the first time in 2004 by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov at the University of Manchester. This resulted in a Nobel Prize just 6 years later in 2010. Remember it took 16 years from Albert Einstein’s ‘miracle year’ of discoveries in 1905 to his Nobel prize in 1921, so it is clear this work was quickly recognised as a big deal.

Graphene based batteries hold promises of ‘instant charging’ combined with:

The rapid charging isn’t the only selling point. In the lab, NanoGraf says its graphene batteries show a 50 percent increase in run time compared to conventional lithium-ion ones, a 25 percent drop in carbon footprint, and half of weight needed to provide the same output.

Futurism.com

To date, graphene is the strongest mineral ever discovered, with 40 times the strength of diamond. It is more effective as a conductor of heat and electricity than graphite. … Graphene is capable of transferring electricity 140 times faster than lithium, while being 100 times lighter than aluminium. This means it could increase the power density of a standard Li-ion battery by 45%.

Mining Technology.

GAC, a subsidiary of Chinese state owned GAIC, has announcedThe batteries will be installed in the first vehicle from September[2021]”, which would be the 1 year anniversary of the joint venture project with GAC and .

Solid State Batteries: Future (VW plans for 2024-2025)

Solid state batteries promise far higher energy density than current electrolyte lithium ion batteries, almost instant recharging, lower costs, and can be extremely durable. Some project it will take 10 years for them to take over, but a joint venture between VW group and QuantumScape plans for volume production by 2024-2025, a similar time from to Solid Power. Independent engineering analysis by Cleanerwatt and Matt Ferrel (undecided) do believe these timeframes. CATL, Panasonic/Toyota BYD all have too much at risk and too much engineering not to also be there if solid state does reach market by that time.

QuantumScape is developing what many consider the Holy Grail of electric car batteries: a highly-efficient, long-lasting, long-range, fast-charging electric car battery cell.

The battery startup achieves this by replacing* the liquid electrolyte that regulates the flow of current with a solid electrolyte.

The polymer separator used in conventional lithium-ion batteries is substituted with a solid-state ceramic separator, QuantumScape says. As a result, the less-efficient carbon or carbon-silicon anode is replaced with an anode of pure metallic lithium.

Forbes: Feb 2021.

Aluminium ion and Graphene: Future (Coin cells 2021, Automotive 2024-2025).

Batteries do not have to use lithium as the electron donor metal. Lithium is the lightest metal, and with the smallest size atom, but lithium atoms only have a single outer shell electron per atom, and thus only allow a +1 charge. Aluminium, although a larger and heavier atom, has 3 outer shell electrons, not one, and this gives aluminium the potential for a +3 charge, which it turns out can result in even greater energy density than with lithium. Plus lithium is so reactive, the batteries are normally made from lithium compounds, rather than lithium metal.

There are a variety of projects to deliver aluminium batteries, eg:

Graphenemg: Aluminium/Graphene batteries which can charge 20 to 60 times faster than lithium ion batteries.

GMG plans to bring graphene aluminum-ion coin cells to market late this year or early next year, with automotive pouch cells planned to roll out in early 2024.

Based on breakthrough technology from the University of Queensland’s (UQ) Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, the battery cells use nanotechnology to insert aluminum atoms inside tiny perforations in graphene planes.

The GMG technology drops aluminum atoms into perforations in graphene.
The Graphene Manufacturing Group’s aluminum-ion technology can charge an iPhone in less than 10 … [+] GRAPHENE MANUFACTURING GROUP

Testing by peer-reviewed specialist publication Advanced Functional Materials publication concluded the cells had “outstanding high-rate performance (149 mAh g−1 at 5 A g−1), surpassing all previously reported AIB cathode materials”.

Forbes: 2021 May 15 (worth reading the article)

Supercapacitors and Ultracapacitors. (nothing scheduled to replace batteries).

Capacitors could also be used as the ultimate ‘solid state’ battery, simply storing a charge using electrostatic attraction. Although there is significant work on supercapacitors for use in EVs, and supercapacitors do function in some ways like a battery, the role they are currently ‘auditioning for’ is to augment the ability of a battery a battery to deliver extremely high currents instantly. If instead of feeding motors directly from a battery, the battery feeds a capacitor that in turn feeds power to the motor, then the system can deliver brief periods of peak current beyond what the battery can deliver. This role, not of being the primary battery, is what is being proposed at this time.

Companies involved include SkeletonTech.

Al Air. (Nothing scheduled to replace rechargeable batteries)

In addition to Aluminium ion batteries where aluminium replaces the lithium, there are also aluminium air batteries. However, these batteries are, so far, not rechargeable and thus not a contender in the same way as other batteries technologies discussed here.

Conclusion.

The battery journey is still at an early stage. Right now, the cost of batteries puts EVs at a cost disadvantage to conventional cars, but that disadvantage is evaporating rapidly as shown by the quite competitive F150 lightning recently announced. By 2025, there will be a cost competitive EV for almost all new vehicle market segments.

However, 2025 is not the end of the line. EVs will continue getting less expensive for years to come, just as PCs did for decades.


Articles found after posting.

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EV Charging Systems: Reference

The two charging systems: a Norwegian perspective.

I have been exploring electric cars. What is needed to make them affordable, and what it is like to live with them. When exploring charging, the charging systems became so complex that I have extracted what I found as its own exploration, which I will keep updated as a reference.

Continue reading “EV Charging Systems: Reference”

Dark Stuff: Dark Matter, Dark Energy and Antigravity.

Gratuitous space image. Dark matter and dark energy are invisible.

This is an overview of ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’, that was started back in 2016 but published until I was recently asked again. The TLDR; is that no-one knows what dark matter or dark energy are, and it is not even absolutely certain that either exists. In fact, my addition to the official version, is that neither need exist. Both dark matter and energy are possible explanations for for things we do not understand, but not the only possible explanations. That being said, a significant majority of physicists do believe dark matter does exist, and many are looking to find it.

  • Dark Matter:
    • What does ‘dark matter’ mean?
    • Why? Because known matter does not explain observed gravity.
      1. So there must be matter we don’t know about: Dark Matter.
        • Its hiding. Dark matter is just matter we have not found.
        • Or, It is matter, but not as we know it.
      2. Or, maybe we have gravity wrong!
  • Dark Energy.
    • What is dark energy?
    • Why? Something is accelerating the expansion of the universe?
  • Antigravity.
  • The unofficial explanation: food for thought?
Continue reading “Dark Stuff: Dark Matter, Dark Energy and Antigravity.”

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