Thursday, May 12, 2016

How many miles on your Dyson?

I love Dyson sweepers. No other vacuum cleaners I've owned have ever come close to the job Dyson sweepers do...and I'm including a Kirby we bought years ago that had a payment book like the ones you used to get when you bought a car.

And speaking of cars, evidently the Dyson people are working on an electric car. Unlike Tesla, the breakthrough manufacturer of electric cars, which this article points out, have achieved cult status, a Dyson car would use solid state batteries.
The company declined to comment but in 2015 it [Dyson] said it planned to invest £1bn in battery technology and in October it bought solid-state battery company, Sakti3, for $90m, which founder Sir James Dyson said had “developed a breakthrough in battery technology”. 
One of Sakti3’s patents states: “The present invention provides a method and system for an all solid-state rechargeable battery and a vehicle propulsion system powered by the battery.”

...three key factors for electric car batteries are low cost, safety and a high “energy density” which gives a long range. But currently they are expensive, he said, and cannot drive as far as petrol or diesel vehicles on a single charge.

Solid-state batteries could provide a tenfold increase in energy density - how much power they pack in - and are also safer. This is because existing batteries use flammable organic solvents as an electrolyte (through which the current flows), whereas a solid electrolyte does not pose a fire risk and does not need expensive safety features. The solid electrolyte also means the battery electrodes can be made of a much more energy dense material, such as metallic lithium.
The article says that other companies are looking at developing solid state batteries for their cars. But given their track record (or maybe, non-track record), I'd put my money (if I had it to invest) on Dyson. It's just a company with a special culture of innovation and a flair for elegant design. (That's the same reason I'd bet on Apple producing a compelling smart car before any other of the current contestants in that technology race.)

The quest for an electric car has been going on for at least five decades. I can remember as a kid back in the 1960s reading an article about General Motors and other manufacturers' work on electric cars. It included pictures of prototypes that looked like something you could pick up at a local car dealer's showroom.

But the ongoing challenge in the development of electric cars has always been ensuring that they stayed charged for significant distances. Tesla has overcome that issue to a great degree, of course.

Solid state batteries offer the potential of longer charges and, unlike other batteries, safety from fire threats.

Even if Dyson is unable to develop a marketable product from their efforts, I hope that their entry into the competition will prod others to get in the race too.

[Thanks to Brit pub and Formula 1 race enthusiast Mark J. Daniels for linking to the Guardian article.]

[Blogger Mark Daniels is the pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church, Centerville, Ohio.]

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