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.

So starting from two humans, 62 doublings would result in 18,000 humans for every square metre of the Earth.

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, or a doubling approximately every 30 years. Just one child above replacement rate would result in a doubling every 50 years.

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 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 would be only one species.

Some species are automatically resource constrained from overpopulation. I suspect this applies to all plants, as a major resource, sunlight, cannot be ‘overconsumed’. However even a population of butterflies can reach a population level where their caterpillars consume all food in their environment, and as their food needs time to grow, this would leave no food for the next generation.

All organisms need to ensure they live sustainably, and for any organism that relies on existence of sufficient numbers of other organisms for food or coexistence, this means some mechanism to ensure they do not out compete the very organisms they rely upon.

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.

Mid 2021: 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?

Outbreaks with Covid-19 have not followed the script because:

  • lockdowns can be more effective than the theory expected, stopping instead of lowering spread
  • there is insufficient ‘herd immunity’ levels when re-opening, forcing the introduction of new measures to reduce spread

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 prevent 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.

Covid-19 is far worse. Firstly, except when everyone is social distancing and having some degree of lockdown, the rate of mortality and hospitalisation is higher than with influenza. Data for delta suggests at least 10x higher, which by itself would raise the cost just in the US to $870 billion, and that is before considering the cost of ‘long covid’, of 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.

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, which makes it impossible to ensure not a single infected virus arrives with international travellers to those 25% of countries without local spread. As Covid-19 enters a countries without local spread over and over again, Covid-19 outbreaks keep happening, and to the virus must be eliminated over and over again to return to be a country with elimination.

This proves many locations have over and over again proven it is possible to eliminate Covid-19. The problem in keeping Covid-19 eliminated, is that the majority of other countries are not yet even close or trying to eliminate Covid-19, so international travellers continue to re-introduce the virus.

Economic Cost of Elimination.

So elimination, at least so far, has been possible.

The next main argument against elimination, and for living with Covid-19, is that elimination is too costly. Elimination 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.

The Richest and Most Powerful are better off with a pandemic.

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)

Australia mid 2021: A Case study and experiment in elimination.

Overview.

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, and in a country where a greater percentage of the population living in cities than in the USA or UK, will be a challenge that has never before been tackled. However if this can be managed, than most other countries should be able to also managed elimination, at least once vaccination rates are higher.

With individual case history traced in Australia due to the current low infection numbers, data will be revealed about the spread of the delta variant that has not been possible to collect from previous outbreaks.

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.

Up to July 16th.

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.

2021: July 24th.

Crowds at protest
Protesters have been chanting for “freedom”.(ABC News: Timothy Swanston)

On July 24th, with the highest number of Covid-19 cases so far, a protest down Broadway to the centre of city town hall took place. With an outspoken far right contingent in Sydney, the prospect of civil disobedience such as this managing to prevent a lockdown achieving results is very real. Protesters protesting a lockdown, yet at the same time making lockdown inevitable is potential perfect storm. Early stage, but this could become very serious.

Some protesters brought their children, while few people were wearing face masks at the demonstration, which started at Victoria Park in Camperdown.

Protesters carried signs saying “Wake up Australia” and waved Australian flags.

NSW Police received an application for the protest, which was rejected.

Sydney anti-lockdown protest chaos as NSW COVID-19 crisis deteriorates

Much depends on whether the march will turn out to be a super-spreader event, and that could turn out to depend on whether people who knew they were infected would attend with nefarious intent.

On July 17th, the same day the NSW government strengthened lockdown measures the Populations Intervention Unit at the University of Melbourne released modelling. On interactive graph, it shows cases to peak at 198 on July 27th under the worst case scenario. Of course, modelling did not anticipate protest marches impacting the outcome, but even prior to any such effect latest trends risk exceeding the worst case scenario, with 163 cases from July 23 (below the projected worst case outcome), representing an above worst case rise in infection numbers from the previous day, but could be an aberation.

By State: (data sourced from ABC.net.au).

New South Wales
Brad Hazzard urges Fairfield residents to avoid passing the virus to famiy and friends
NSW health minister Brad Hazzard said the state had recorded 163 locally acquired cases over the last 24 hours and 45 were infectious while in the community. (News Video)

New South Wales registered a record 163 new locally acquired today, including one death. 

At least 45 of the cases were infectious while in the community. 

The man who died was in his 80s and lived in Sydney’s south-west.

In a sometimes emotional press conference, Health Minister Brad Hazzard pleaded with other states to donate doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

States including Victoria and South Australia rejected the same plea yesterday.

“Last time I looked, we were a Commonwealth — we worked together, and it disturbs me that all we’ve ever done to work together has just seemingly been cast aside,” he said. 

Sydney’s stay at home orders are being extended, with the Cumberland and Blacktown LGAs now included. That means only authorised workers can leave those areas. Mr Hazzard said the worst-hit areas were mostly in Sydney’s west and south-west. 

“[It’s] transmission particularly as a result of family members getting together when they just should not be getting together. We also are seeing transmission in shops and in other workplaces, ” he said.

Earlier, more venues were added to the list of COVID-19 exposure sites across New South Wales. You can see the full list here.

Victoria
An individual dressed in protective gear cleaning inside a market.
Cleaners were brought to the Prahran Market in Melbourne for deep clean after it was designated as a tier 1 exposure site this week.(ABC News: Darryl Torpy)

Twelve new locally acquired cases were recorded today, 10 of them were in quarantine for their entire infectious period.

Five cases are linked to the AAMI Park outbreak, three to Ms Frankie’s restaurant in Cremorne and two to an apartment complex in Richmond.

Health Minister Martin Foley said the decrease in daily cases was a positive sign the lockdown was working and could be lifted next week, if the trend continued.

Victoria has also introduced a travel permit system designating areas across Australia and New Zealand as green, orange, red or extreme risk zones.

The change came into effect at midnight, with New South Wales declared an extreme risk zone.

It means those entering Victoria under that classification without an exemption will be put on a return flight or placed into 14 days mandatory hotel quarantine.

Anyone who attempts to enter Victoria illegally faces fines of more than $5,000.

Another 400 exposure sites, mostly in Melbourne’s city centre and inner-east, were also added to the exposure site list overnight. 

South Australia

South Australia has recorded one new case of COVID-19 today, and it’s linked to other cases at a winery north-east of Adelaide.

The person was in quarantine, and it brings the state’s total in the current outbreak to 16.

Premier Steven Marshall said the state was on track to come out of lockdown next week.

Mr Marshall said repatriation flights scheduled to arrive in Adelaide on Monday and Tuesday would be cancelled. 

Queensland

Queensland has recorded zero new locally acquired COVID-19 cases today, although contract tracing will continue amid an alert involving a flight attendant. 

The Brisbane woman in her thirties tested positive on Thursday and was potentially infectious while working on QantasLink flights to-and-from Longreach, Gladstone and Hervey Bay on the 11th and 12th of July. 

The woman has the Delta strain which is circulating in Sydney.

Western Australia

Western Australia has recorded no new COVID-19 cases today.

WA Health are still monitoring 9 active cases: eight cases remain aboard the BBC California currently berthed at Fremantle Port and one case is in hotel quarantine.

ACT, Northern Territory & Tasmania.

There have been no new cases of COVID-19 reported in the ACT, Northern Territory or Tasmania today.

UK – Mid 2021, A Case Study and Experiment on Living with Covid-19.

Fully Vaccinated? Still Potentially Infectious.

The start was frightening. As if proof that being fully vaccinated does not prevent disease, it was revealed on July 172021, that the UK minister for health minster had tested positive and went into quarantine. To add to the confusion, the UK prime minister, Boris Johnson who has previously been infected and fully vaccinated but is a close contact of the health minister, initially stated he would not enter quarantine only to ‘backflip’ and later announce he would enter quarantine.

This also fits with data from Australia of cases on the rise among fully vaccinated people. Note that hospitalisation of fully vaccinated people is dramatically reduced.

According to UK data released last month, two doses of Pfizer and AstraZeneca are respectively 96% and 92% effective against hospitalisation from the Delta variant.

The Guardian, July 16th 2021.

Case For Optimism?

Unlike Belgium, where just a week after opening cases surged and the country went almost immediately back into lockdown, in the UK cases since the 19th of July, the end lockdown date, have fallen. On the other side, deaths have risen to around 100 per day.

more to be added as July data is complete.

Conclusion.

‘Ending’ this pandemic by ‘living with’ Covid-19 does not feel like a true ‘end’, and despite the China origin theories, the risk of more pandemics to follow is very real, and leave humanity accruing a collection of diseases requiring periodic vaccination.

To me, it seems like yet another case where global governance is required for a true real world solution.

(more to be added as the experiment is evaluated)

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.”

Superpowers: Motor Vehicles and other Tools.

Continue reading “Superpowers: Motor Vehicles and other Tools.”

Coffee: How many cups a day is ok, or even beneficial?

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’. How big is ‘a cup’ and what type of coffee? Given that long ago I learnt that the amount of caffeine in a ‘cup of coffee’ can vary by over a factor of 10x. When assessing advice on how many cups are good or bad, it becomes importance to be able to compare the type of cup of coffee you drink with the advice.

Continue reading “Coffee: How many cups a day is ok, or even beneficial?”

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 in 1749 as built by Benjamin Franklin, an electrical capacitor, and later built by Volta as a ‘battery’ of chemical cells, but there were always called ‘batteries’ because you needed lots of them. But now we even call single cells ‘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.

Batteries: Pure Energy Storage.

Universal Fuel Source: Energy vs Chemical Power.

In theory you could make a ‘recharging system’ for an internal combustion engine as described above, but in practice, it will never happen.

When you are out of fuel for a diesel or gasoline engine, you need more of the exact chemicals the engine requires. You can’t just stumble upon gasoline or diesel fuel, and you can’t easily convert other things that are available into gasoline or diesel fuel.

Sunlight, wind, and even heat can be used to make electricity. Almost any form of energy can be converted into electricity and used to charge a battery. The source of the electricity has no impact on the design of the electric car. However, you can just used anything that will burn to power an internal combustion engine. Even the minor change from gasoline to diesel requires a significantly different engine. When a gasoline supplies are disrupted, everything that depends on that specific liquid is disrupted.

Internal battery chemistry can change from car to car with no need to modify how electricity is supplied to the car. All of that battery technologies discussed below can be used with the exact same electric motors.

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 performance including lifespan so rapidly 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 may also become obsolete before they should fail, and some batteries develop faults and other problems well before the end of their anticipated lifespan.

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 Care: Chemical Battery Charging.

Current Li Ion batteries, and most likely all future chemical batteries, can deteriorate over time as noted under ‘battery life’. Optimum battery life results when the following principles are all adhered to:

  1. Recharge and discharge currents must be limited to avoid causing elevated batteries temperatures.
  2. Rapid charging should be used sparingly.
  3. Batteries should rarely be discharged until capacity is exhausted.
  4. Batteries should rarely be charged to full capacity.

Consider mobile phones. Most of us break rule 4 almost every day by leaving our phones on charge overnight. A phone designed for maximum battery life would detect a charge is an overnight charge and:

  • Use a slow charge provided there is sufficient time.
  • Pause the charge as soon as a ‘during the night’ level is reached.
  • Resume the charge as late as possible in the morning to ensure the phone is ready for the start of the next day, topped up to a level which still leaves a safety buffer.

Charging outside the schedule of overnight charging would then assume special circumstances and rapidly charge, and allow rapid charging to proceed to full charge if the phone is left on charge.

There are articles that suggest rapid charging has no real impact on battery life, but full analysis always reveals that the increase temperatures that result from increased current do reduce battery life, and the only question is to whether the convenience justifies the impact. There is no doubt rapid charging is useful, the main care requirement is to limit rapid charging to when it is needed. With a relatively low cost mobile phone battery in phone that will be obsolete in perhaps 3 years, it matters far less than with a high cost EV battery in vehicle that still has value as a used vehicle many years after initial purchase. The average age of a car, even in the US, is around 12 years.

Some phones (e.g. Apple) do have software to try to avoid bad charging practices, but this is nowhere near as important with a phone as with a car.

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.

Sodium. 2023.

The press release from CATL, the worlds largest battery supplier for EVs:

Based on a series of innovations in the chemistry system, CATL’s first generation of sodium-ion batteries has the advantages of high-energy density, fast-charging capability, excellent thermal stability, great low-temperature performance and high-integration efficiency, among others.

The energy density of CATL’s sodium-ion battery cell can achieve up to 160Wh/kg, and the battery can charge in 15 minutes to 80% SOC at room temperature.

Moreover, in a low-temperature environment of -20°C, the sodium-ion battery has a capacity retention rate of more than 90%, and its system integration efficiency can reach more than 80%.

The sodium-ion batteries’ thermal stability exceeds the national safety requirements for traction batteries. The first generation of sodium-ion batteries can be used in various transportation electrification scenarios, especially in regions with extremely low temperatures, where its outstanding advantages become obvious. Also, it can be flexibly adapted to the application needs of all scenarios in the energy storage field.

The next generation of sodium-ion batteries’ energy density development target is to exceed 200Wh/kg.

At the event, Dr. Qisen Huang, deputy dean of the CATL Research Institute, said that sodium-ion battery manufacturing is perfectly compatible with the lithium-ion battery production equipment and processes, and the production lines can be rapidly switched to achieve a high-production capacity.

As of now, CATL has started its industrial deployment of sodium-ion batteries, and plans to form a basic industrial chain by 2023. CATL invites upstream suppliers and downstream customers, as well as research institutions to jointly accelerate the promotion and development of sodium-ion batteries.

CATL via PushEvs.

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.

Lithium Metal (No date for commercial product)

This is a variation on the lithium ion batter as:

Lithium metal is one of the best candidates to replace graphite as an anode material thanks to its high theoretical capacity. The problem is that batteries using lithium metal anodes currently have poor cycle life.

However, thanks to a new non-flammable dual-anion ionic liquid electrolyte this could soon change.

Push Evs 25th August, 2021

Sion Batteries.

see because the current population is clearly greater than

Al Air. (No products 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.

Battery Makers.

Global EV Battery Shipment – January-May 2021:

If we take a look at the year-to-date numbers, it turns out that CATL (22.1 GWh) maintained its first place, but it’s only 0.4 GWh ahead of LG Energy Solution (2.7 GWh). The combined market share of those two manufacturers is 53.7%, which means that every second xEV on the planet is equipped with CATL or LGES batteries.

CATL clearly benefits from very high sales in China (including LFP deal with Tesla) and several global  contracts, while LG Energy Solution got a boost from the deal with Tesla in China and massive expansion globally.

Inside EVs May 2021

Panasonic, with 13 GWh, is not only behind the leaders, but its growth rate is below 74%, which is a worrying sign.

  1. CATL – 22.1 GWh (up 300%) with 27.1% share
  2. LG Chem’s LG Energy Solution – 21.7 GWh (up 184%) with 26.6% share
  3. Panasonic – 13.0 GWh (up 74%) with 16.0% share
  4. BYD – 5.5 GWh (up 235%)
  5. Samsung SDI – 4.6 GWh (up 106%)
  6. SK Innovation – 3.8 GWh (up 154%)
  7. CALB – 2.5 GWh (up 418%)
  8. Envision AESC – 1.6 GWh (up 11%)
  9. Guoxuan – 1.4 GWh (up 336%)
  10. PEVE – 1.0 GWh (up 43%)
    other – 4.3 GWh (up 235%)
    Total – 81.6 GWh (up 169%)

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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