Turns Out Electric Car Batteries Aren’t Made From Unicorn Farts

Can it be that current battery technology is hard on the environment? UN highlights urgent need to tackle impact of likely electric car battery production boom.

I’m not sure why the article is accompanied by a photo of a stripping-shovel in a Brazilian coal mine; I guess it is supposed to represent ecological devastation.

So it turns out that the materials needed for your electric car’s battery have some problems.

For example, two-thirds of all cobalt production happens in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). According the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), about 20 per cent of cobalt supplied from the DRC comes from artisanal mines, where human rights abuses have been reported, and up to 40,000 children work in extremely dangerous conditions in the mines for meagre income.

And in Chile, lithium mining uses nearly 65% of the water in the country’s Salar de Atamaca region, one of the driest desert areas in the world, to pump out brines from drilled wells. This has forced local quinoa farmers and llama herders to migrate and abandon ancestral settlements. It has also contributed to environment degradation, landscape damage and soil contamination, groundwater depletion and pollution.

But the good folks driving electric cars can feel secure in knowing that when they drive their vehicle, they foisted all those problems on people far away; people that they don’t need to worry about. Or something. (Hat tip to Not a Lot of People Know That.)

So Is This a Green Car?

I mean, it is a hybrid. Sort of. The 2021 Ferrari SF90 Stradale Goes from Silent to Violent.

I love it when engineers throw a monkey wrench into the works.

So a Ferrari with a front wheel drive electric drive-train. Sounds like a green car to me….

Now, before you panic at the thought of an electric Ferrari, we’ll inform you that the SF90 Stradale also has a brand-appropriate twin-turbocharged V-8 right behind the passenger compartment. Working together, the gas and electric systems deliver a mouthwatering 986 horsepower.

If taxpayer subsidies were still available (are they still being handed out in California?) this car just might qualify. It does have an “electric-only” range, but it is only 15 miles. Because we need to be handing out taxpayer funds to people buying half-a-million-dollar cars if we can get them to go green, or something. $511,250 is the base price. (Hat tip to Tam via Twitter.)

What’s Next?

Worldwide pandemic. Riots. Freedom on the decline. Totalitarianism on the rise.

And now we have World scrambles to fight massive plague of locusts that could leave millions hungry.

As the pests begin to migrate again in the second half of June, experts warn that, without continuous aid to mitigate the spread, the devastation could leave millions of people in at least 23 countries hungry by the end of the year.

I expect either Sweet Meteor of Death, an alien invasion, eruption of the Yellowstone Supervolcano, or activation of the Cascadia Subduction Zone.

Is Sticking with Coal Better than Switching to Natural Gas?

Quick Dick McDick has a few things to say about people destroying the economy of Canada while also keeping Asian countries from reducing their dependence on coal in favor of natural gas. Coastal GasLink Pipeline Protest.

Of course Logic is not high on the list of stuff that the Left values.

Never Underestimate the Power of Human Stupidity

Why am I not surprised by this? Recycling plants are catching on fire, and lithium-ion batteries are to blame.

NEVER throw a lithium ion battery into your recycle bin. NEVER.

A nightmare for the recycling industry became incarnate when a Texas recycling plant burst into flames in December 2016. The fire caught quickly, melting plastic bottles, consuming cardboard boxes, and incinerating discarded paper. The massive building’s sprinkler system had been damaged in a recent freeze and failed to tamp down the flames. All the firefighters could do was keep the fire contained inside, watching it burn for 12 hours.

Lithium ion batteries cannot be recycled with your curbside junk. That doesn’t mean people won’t try.

“Nationally we’re losing about a facility a month, burned to the ground by battery fires,” says Bill Keegan, president of Dem-Con Companies in Minnesota. Dem-Con lost a waste transfer facility in September 2018 to a likely battery fire.

They are not just in your cellphone. That singing birthday card? Probably. An old vaping pen? Definitely.

If we burn down one recycling center a month, how long do you think recycling will last?

This is on top of the other boneheaded stuff people try to recycle. Like propane tanks and fireworks. A garden hose – which cannot be recycled – can do 10s of thousands of dollars in damage to recycling machinery. Every spring, people throw the old garden hoses in the recycle bin.

The quote that forms the title comes from Robert A. Heinlein. It comes from the novel Time Enough for Love. (Lazarus Long is one of my favorite characters in all of fiction.)

The Environmental Lobby and “The Boy Who Cried ‘Wolf'”

So when do you stop paying attention to people who predicting the world would end 10 years ago? Republican legislators stiff-arm anti-Trump environmental lobby in Tallahassee.

And the Left are turning (have turned?) the courts into a weapon.

Florida’s Everglades Coalition is in Tallahassee to lobby legislators on what they want to do about problems in the Everglades. Republicans are ignoring them. Maybe because of some fringe elements involved.

The Everglades Coalition also includes the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), the national group that has received money from billionaire George Soros’ Tides Foundation and has sued President Donald Trump 179 times since he took office, will also be in attendance. [SNIP]

“The abuse of the court system for political ends is nothing new for the radical left,” said [Rep. Anthony Sabatini (R)] “Although this level of court abuse may be a new low for the Never Trump fringe.”

The article linked above doesn’t say much about the goals of The Everglades Coalition, but the Left has been fighting with South Florida Water Management District (SWFMD or Swift Mud) since forever, about the amount of water sent to the everglades from the canal system that includes Lake Okeechobee. The real threat to the Everglades, and most of Florida wildlife right now, are invasive species. In The Everglades, it is Anacondas. (The large snakes.) They are killing off large numbers of native species and seem to be thriving. And of course SFWMD Emptied Lake Okeechobee one year because “a large number of hurricanes were anticipated due to global warming” (it was before that moniker was dropped in favor of “climate change”) and those storms never materialized. So there was no water for The Everglades or the canals, even a couple of towns around the lake that rely on tourism were literally left high and dry, and had their economies decimated. But hey, they were all in on global warming so it must have been the right thing to do.

Anyway, despite a booming economy providing a lot of funds for The Everglades in general, this group is not happy. Has the Left ever said, “Hey, that was a job well done?” Or do they never win? (Aside from the anti-war protestors going into hibernation for 8 years when Obama was in office. I’m not sure that’s a fair example.)

Not Climate Change, and Not “Just” Arson

Of course he was laughing. Muslim charged for starting Australian wildfire laughs after court hearing.

Jihad Watch Director Robert Spencer noted Islamic jihadis have identified setting fires as a tool of jihad.

In 2018, the ISIS-linked Al-Ansar Media claimed wildfires in California were retribution for America’s participation in the civil war in Syria.

Don’t expect to see this story on the 24 hour news channels. Doesn’t fit the narrative. Find my previous post on this topic at this link.

Don’t Clutter the Issue With Facts!

Because they are believing something. The Cult of Climate ‘Science’.

Glacier National Part put up signs about 10 years ago, that basically said the glaciers would be gone by 2020. Those signs are being changed.

Notice the slight hedge — “computer models indicate” — in the wording of the now-replaced sign.

Obfuscation? I’m sure they don’t know what that is.

These “models” must be objective, because machines can’t be biased, right? And yet these models were actually developed by human beings like Michael “Hockey Stick” Mann, who has made a habit of suing his critics in an effort to silence them.

“Computer models indicate” is one of those phrases like “according to scientists” which can be made to function as a form of argument from authority (argumentum ab auctoritate), a fallacy that anyone who has taken an introductory course in logic should recognize.

But no one on the Left will notice.

Arson Not Climate Change

Environmental tragedy or crime? Australian fires in the news. 183 Arrested In Australia On Arson Charges Over ‘Last Few Months’ Sydney News Reports.

85% of the fires were caused by people, either accidentally or via arson.

The fact that the bushfires were deliberately started and have nothing to do with man-made climate change hasn’t prevented that being the dominant narrative.

And it isn’t one or two people.

A total of 183 people have been arrested by police in Queensland, NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania for lighting bushfires over the last few months.

Oh, and people are also banned from burning brush in cooler months to mitigate summer’s problems. It’s for the environment. (That hasn’t worked out too well for California.)

Environmentalists, Who’ve No Idea What a Combine Harvester Is…

Make pronouncements about farming. And a farmer, responds… Via Small, Dead Animals : What’s The Matter? Is That Vegan Margarine Starting To Taste Like Oil and Gas?

Can anyone tell Quick Dick what product is required to make all of this equipment work? I’ll give you a hint. … it is not the tears a Swedish environmentalist.

Rare Earth Elements – Securing our supply

And it is past time to secure our supply. US Rare Earth Element Processors to Help Break China Stranglehold.

China has a virtual monopoly on Rare Earth Element (REE) mining and processing. These are things that are needed in everything, including military aircraft, and Tesla batteries (and in your cellphone), catalytic converters, etc. The list is quite long.

Rare earth elements are notoriously difficult to process and refine. While the United States and its allies also have considerable REE deposits, China’s lax environmental standards combined with low labor costs and a raft of government subsidies have allowed it to slash REE production costs, undercutting some processors in the West to the point of bankruptcy. Illegal and undocumented production is also commonplace in China, and is responsible for 20 to 40 percent of Chinese production, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). China’s virtual monopoly on the REE industry has meant that even the ore mined at California’s Mountain Pass mine is currently being shipped to China for processing.

But hey, electric cars are “environmentally responsible.” As long as you don’t look to closely at the environment in China, that is. (Hat tip to Instapundit.)

For a reference that is not Epoch Times, see Pilot rare earths processing plant, first one outside China, opens in Colorado – MINING.COM.

USA Rare Earth and partner Texas Mineral Resources have opened a pilot plant processing facility in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, which will purify rare earths, lithium and other critical minerals with the aim of helping Washington secure domestic supply of the key ingredients for military weapons, electric vehicles and phones.

The Department of Defense sees the lack of a domestic supply as a risk to our military.

Problems with Lithium Batteries?

It can’t be. The media keeps telling my how great they are. EDITORIAL: Battery car burdens appear worse with each new report.

This is both the story of political corruption, and the devastating impact of lithium mining.

First, the perception of corruption. (I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.)

In 2018, [Colorado Governor John] Hickenlooper forced battery cars on Colorado with an executive order to adopt California’s emissions mandate. He signed it two months after boarding a luxury jet owned by the brother of battery car magnate Elon Musk to attend a Musk family celebration. The trip initiated one of several ethics investigations of the former governor.

Then there is problems with lithium mining.

A separate review published Nov. 6 in the science journal Nature raises extraordinary concerns about child labor, battery disposal dangers, and mining practices that make fracking seem relatively harmless.

“The processing of large amounts of raw materials can result in considerable environmental impacts,” the report says. “Production from brine, for example, entails drilling a hole in the salt flat, and pumping of the mineral-rich solution to the surface. … this mining activity depletes water tables. In Chile’s Salar de Atacama … 65% of the region’s water is consumed by mining.”

Cobalt mining has problems of child labor. Nickel mining contaminates fresh water and marine ecosystems in various places around the world, including Canada and Russia.

Nova’s Inside The Megafire

Considering the source, it is fairly well-balanced. Inside the Megafire.

It is a long video at 53 minutes, so make sure you have some time.

From the front line of the Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire in California history, NOVA tells the stories of residents who had to flee for their lives during the 2018 fire season. Scientists racing to understand what’s behind the rise of record-breaking megafires across the American West take to the forest, and even a fire lab, in search of answers. They investigate how forestry practices, climate change, and the physics of fire itself play a role in the dramatic increase in wildfires in recent decades. (Premiered May 8, 2019)

There’s a nice mix of fire science, and a recognition that more than a century of mismanaging the forest play a role in the megafires. As well as all the building done in the forest. Which I get, but why build incredibly combustible homes in places where fires are a reality? Why not have more fire-resistant building codes? Because reasons. (And remember, FEMA pays for at least some of the cleanup of these fires. That means your tax dollars at work.)

I haven’t watched PBS in decades, but the folks who are responsible for this episode of Nova used some of the aerial footage shot by Juan Browne of Blanoliro. Which is how I ran across it.

Funny How This Isn’t Taken as a Sign of Climate Change

Climate change toward better conditions would be horrible. From the Left’s point of view, that is. After Years of Fiery Hell, California Gets Less of a Scorching in 2019.

Only about 163,000 acres have burned this year, a fraction of the 632,000 or so scorched in the same period last year. A wet, snowy winter led to a widespread greening in the spring, signaling there would be plenty of tinder around after a hot, dry summer. But the landscape stayed relatively moist after clouds moored above the Sierra Nevadas in May slowed the snow melt.

So when is it weather, and when is it climate change? I need a scorecard, or a flowchart, or something.

And maybe the good folks in Kalifornia need to get used to blackouts, because PG&E says it found some 100 instances of wind-damage that could have started fires. In case you missed it, the utility cut power to about 2 million people and the businesses that support them.

While that move has faced fierce criticism, PG&E crews inspecting more than 27,500 miles (44,257 kilometers) of power lines after the blackout found wind damage that included trees tangled with power lines and utility poles knocked to the ground.

Of course either way, PG&E loses. They cut power; they lose. They start fires; they lose.

A Particularly Noteworthy Wind Turbine Fire

I’ve been cutoff from the 24/7 news hysteria for a while, but I don’t really remember anything about this fire being trumpeted by media. 500-acre Juniper Fire in S. Washington sparked by wind turbine, officials say. The story is from late July of this year.

I’ve linked this story from the media because it has a decent video of how the wildfire got started. And the video is only about a minute. It turns out (if you look at all the coverage) that 500 acre number was an exaggeration. The fire burned less than 250 acres; when they got around to aerial mapping the original estimates were too high.

The fire was sparked by a wind turbine that malfunctioned and caught fire.

A fire in the hub set the blades on fire, the burning blades fell and ignited dry grass. I wonder what something like this would do in California. Not that the media would report it, I’m guessing. (Green energy = good.)

This is a continuation of my fascination with problems with wind turbines.

So what is the carbon footprint of this wind turbine?

How to Get a Solar Panel to Catch Fire

It doesn’t start with poor installation, but that seems to be at least part of the problem. Hackaday – Solar System Wars: Walmart Versus Tesla.

So some of the details of Walmart’s suit against Tesla for the solar-panel-related fires has come to light. Some of it is what I expected, and some of it isn’t.

After Walmart had 3 solar-related fires in a short time they had Solar City/Tesla “de-energize” all remaining systems. (Disconnect from the inverter/mains as far as I can tell.) But that didn’t stop one more fire from breaking out in a de-energized panel assembly.

Among the problems that Walmart’s consultants discovered by investigating the surviving solar arrays were improper grounding, poor wire management leading to insulation abrasions and wear, and lack of as-built drawings and proper documentation. But the most glaring errors alleged by the inspectors were the presence of hotspots in the arrays, and improper installation of the connectors used to string together the solar panels.

Hotspots in photovoltaic arrays occur when one or more cells in a series-connected string of cells are underperforming for some reason — say, by being shaded by leaves or dirt. The shaded cell or cells can then become the current limiting element in the series circuit, which can lead to reverse-biasing of the bad cells. This essentially dumps all the power from the good cells into the bad cells, heating them up to possibly the point of failure due to melted solder joints, cracked silicon, and, as appears to be the case with the Walmart fires, ignition of the materials used to encapsulate the cells.

These are much larger installations than any I’ve ever dealt with. I had 2 largish panels on my boat. Friends had 4 or 6, depending, but they sometimes were smaller. You can imagine that the roof of your average Walmart store would support quite a few panels, which will either give you more voltage, or more amperage, or some combination of both depending on how you wire them together.

There is a link to download the entire PDF of the suit at Hackaday. I haven’t done it. Yet.

Science Is Supposed to Have Predictive Value

You are either able to predict the outcome of experiments or the behavior of nature. So what is it if there is no predictive value? Wrong Again: 50 Years of Failed Eco-pocalyptic Predictions.

Modern doomsayers have been predicting climate and environmental disaster since the 1960s. They continue to do so today.

None of the apocalyptic predictions with due dates as of today have come true.

A nice collection of images from newspapers about Global Cooling and then Global Warming, and whatever we have today. (Hat tip to 90 Miles From Tyranny.)

Problems with Wind Turbines

What happens when engineers with grand ideas don’t talk to people who maintain stuff in real life?

So in my pinball-like movement around the internet, caused by my searches, and friends’ emails, I stumbled across Discovery UK video about problems with the composite blades that make up modern wind turbines. That is a long, but professionally done video. The only problem is the Pollyanna view of the people talking in the video.

It seems that the engineers didn’t think wear and tear on wind turbines would be an issue when they were built. Someone in that video even says that they thought wind turbines would be maintenance-free once installed. (That is spoken like someone who never got outdoors on the water.)

Salt spray. Hail storms. Particulate matter in the wind. All that combined with the fact that the blades are moving at about 150 MPH or better, means that the leading edges are going to deteriorate.

They talk about “poor performance” in the Discovery UK video, but I can’t help but wonder if unbalanced blades, and the resulting strain on drive shafts doesn’t account for at least some of the Wind Turbine failures you can see in videos everywhere. Aside from blade failures (which can be spectacular) there are number of fires that seem to break out in the hub of the turbine. Some of them are spectacular as well. (Glass reinforced plastic can burn really well.)

So after seeing the Discovery UK video at the top, where there was an “Up Next!” selection from YouTube that included turbine failures, I went looking. And it wasn’t hard to find problems.

But I’ll control myself and only talk about one. One. Incredibly. Stupid. Problem. Galled stainless steel fasteners. (OK, I won’t be able to limit it to one issue.) How galled fasteners may affect wind-turbine O&M.

Standard stainless steel bolts and fasteners have a tendency to gall under certain conditions because of their specific properties. Thread galling can occur with standard fasteners when pressure and friction cause the bolt threads to seize to the threads of a nut or a tapped hole.

Severe galling, known as “cold welding,” can also cause the two surfaces to fuse together. This makes the joint impossible to remove without cutting the bolt or splitting the nut.

That article is clearly from a management perspective, but it is from last month, and in an “engineering” publication. And it must be news to someone, unless they are just really desperate for articles.

Now I’m not an engineer. I have a degree in mathematics and I spent most of my career doing Information Technology stuff. Well, and managing people. But even I know that galling is a problem. Which is why there are anti-seize compounds. And more expensive anti-galling fasteners. I haven’t found examples of stainless bolts being driven into tapped holes in aluminum structures, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find that done either. In a salt-water environment, that kind of thing (which I have seen done) doesn’t work out in the long run.

I haven’t seen mention of stress fractures in the stainless. They probably won’t show up for a bit. I have seen a 1/2 inch by 3 inch piece of stainless so riddled with fractures that my friend was able to break it into 2 pieces by hitting it on his thigh. Sailboat fittings can see a lot of stress, but probably not as much as you find on a turbine hub, 300 feet in the air, off the coast of Scotland.

Oh, and those damaged blades, which apparently need to be replaced every 10 years or so, can’t be recycled. Sioux Falls landfill tightens rules after Iowa dumps dozens of wind turbine blades.

This year, 101 turbine blades have been trucked to the city dump. But with each one spanning 120 feet long, that’s caused officials with the landfill and the Sioux Falls Public Works Department to study the long-term effect that type of refuse could have on the dump.

Then there are the complaints about turbines on the great lakes suffering leaking gearboxes and dumping a not insignificant amount of used oil into the water.

Environmentally responsible engineering, apparently carried out by people who don’t have much experience with the environment.

Green Energy Causes Global Warming?

Ain’t that a kick in the teeth.World’s most powerful greenhouse gas on the rise ‘due to green energy boom’.

Sulfur Hexafluoride is the culprit.

Sulphur hexafluoride, or SF6, is widely used in the electrical industry to prevent short circuits and accidents.

It is 23,500 times more warming than carbon dioxide (CO2), and just one kilogram warms the Earth as much as 24 people flying London to New York return.

The drive to use mixed sources of power, including wind, solar and gas, rather than coal as fuel has resulted in a rise in the number of electrical devices that use SF6, the BBC said.

Now the original source is the BBC, so “The sky is falling!” isn’t beyond the realm of possible points-of-view. I suppose the reaction of the “green power movement” will be to have as all freezing in the dark. Then there is Cobalt Mining. Funny how they don’t seem to mind that electric cars are built – in part – on child labor, in horrible conditions.

Climate Science – Lite on the Science

SiGraybeard has the rundown on an interesting article. The Climate Change Hoax is Worse Than You Thought.

The article is supported by a fairly large PDF, so although I will look at it eventually, that won’t happen for a while. But there seem to be some problems.

In my prior experience, climate modelers:

  • did not know to distinguish between accuracy and precision.
  • did not understand that … a ±15 C temperature uncertainty is not a physical temperature.
  • confronted standard error propagation as a foreign concept.
  • did not understand the significance or impact of a calibration experiment.
  • did not understand the concept of instrumental or model resolution or that it has empirical limits
  • did not understand physical error analysis at all.

    I’ve said before that they didn’t seem to understand gauge reliability or repeatability and if you think you have a problem you can’t just “edit the data after the fact” to best support the conclusion you want to reach. You do in fact have to toss out the suspect data, and fix the gauge.

    Anyway, it will be some time before I get to the source material…