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NICKEL ZINC AS LITHIUM ALTERNATIVE?

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, as the saying goes. Right now, electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle builders are mostly steering towards lithium-ion batteries – in various electro-chemistries – for their car and truck offerings. Apparently these companies are run by gamblers, since there’s no guarantee that lithium-reliant batteries will pan out and be at the core of clean cars worldwide.

The risks are enormous for the whole clean car industry. One failed car line due to lithium battery “issues” could bring the entire battery electric vehicle movement to an end, not to recover for decades. “See, we told you so!”, will say skeptics of plug-in cars and trucks.

Those “issues” are no laughing matter and should be taken seriously by all invested. Aside from safety, as illustrated by Boeing’s Dreamliner Li-ion battery problem, along with the difficulty in obtaining this relatively rare metal, “issues” mostly revolve around money, that is, the cost of those lithium-dependent batteries. If costs don’t drop many fold, the vehicles, whose high prices are determined their lithium-ion battery packs, may be sent to the graveyard of failed technologies. The issue of cost comes down to the battery manufacturers.

While the costs of manufacturing Li-ion batteries are only known by the bean-counters and management of individual companies, some of the costs are certainly related to the complexity and difficulty of manufacturing the batteries. And, along that note, manufacturing processes are a closely guarded secrets, so you’ll find no detailed white paper as to how and what processes are used by each manufacturer. Production of cells must be extremely expensive, even when battery cells are assembled in nations with very low labor costs. In other words making lithium-ion battery cells isn’t easy and if it isn’t easy it won’t be cheap no matter how cheap low skilled labor gets.
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