In this issue:
Do we need standards for e-bikes?
The call for safety standards for e-bikes is growing. In the US, many advocacy groups and fire departments are calling for product standards on e-bikes and other electrically assisted mobility devices such as scooters, mainly because of the fire risk associated with their batteries. Even the Mayor of New York has joined the call and many NY apartment blocks now ban e-bikes and scooters. New York has an estimated 65,000 e-bikes. So far in 2023, there have been 100 battery related fire incidents and 13 deaths reported. Obviously, there will have been many more incidents as most would go unreported. The London Fire Brigade regards lithium batteries as the city’s fastest growing fire risk. London had 116 fires of e-bikes and scooters in 2022 and has reported one death so far in 2023.
Massive efficiency improvements in air conditioning coming to market
Several start-ups are working on a new technique for air conditioning that could lead to as much as a 60% energy saving (compared with current-tech, high efficiency units) by using desiccants. Predictions of a threefold increase in electricity demand for cooling driven by higher temperatures is a problem for generation, networks and, ultimately, consumers. It has been suggested that domestic air conditioning demand will account for as much 0.5C of our global warming. Most existing systems rely on vapour compression which deals with temperature and humidity together. Separating the cooling and dehumidifying functions makes the cooling process significantly more efficient. Transaera, Zephyr and Blue Frontier are all offering hybrid units that separate the cooling and dehumidifying functions in the same unit. Claims include 60% reduction in energy use and 80% reduction in peak demand and some units also incorporate energy storage.
ICE vehicles have peaked but not their emissions
BloombergNEF’s latest Electric Vehicle Outlook strongly indicates demand for ICE vehicles is on the wane. New ICE vehicle sales peaked in 2017 and are now in long term decline. The report predicts electric vehicle sales will reach 27 million units in 2026, 30% of the market, up from 10.5 million in 2022, a 14% market share. It goes on to predict road transport emissions will peak in 2029 and states direct electrification via batteries is the most efficient, cost-effective and commercially viable route to a decarbonised road transport system.
Onwards and upwards for drones
A new study looking at the emissions attributable to different delivery technologies shows last mile deliveries within cities by drone come with higher emissions than using diesel trucks. Between cities the picture is different with drones emitting less per unit delivered than diesel vehicles but in all cases, long/short, between/within, an electric truck trumps the lot. However, when considering lifecycle costs, drones win out handsomely, which is also the case when delivery times are assessed.
New old-technology batteries
This week’s battery technology story involves two of humanity’s oldest manufactured materials. Scientists at MIT have developed a supercapacitor using cement, carbon black and water. The resulting storage product would be cheap and scalable. The research team claims the technology could easily be built into the foundations of a house at very small additional cost and would be capable of storing a full day’s energy. They also see applications in roading to provide contactless EV charging on the move. An ideal solution for electrifying heavy freight.