LINKS OF THE WEEK: Sept 10-16, 2023
Using data crunching to heat water, EV batteries made from recycled materials, zinc batteries as grid support, micromobility in Brisbane, and more.
Happy Sunday! I hope you’ve been enjoying a lovely weekend.
In today’s installment of “Links of the Week,” we’ll be looking at a UK start-up that uses cloud computing to heat water in people’s homes, zinc-based batteries that could play a role in building out the energy grid, the latest EV stats from Canada, a potentially exciting announcement about EV batteries made from recycled materials in the US, and more.
Let's dive into it!
Here's an interesting MIT Technology Review article about a UK startup that reuses waste heat from cloud computing to heat water in residential homes, preventing one ton of carbon dioxide per year from being emitted and saving homeowners an average of £250 (USD$420) a year on their hot water bill.
I’ve read stories about capturing the waste heat from data centers and other industries to use for other purposes but I think this is the first company I’ve seen that installs servers in people’s homes to heat their water. It's got me thinking about how much valuable "stuff" we humans create – whether it's materials or energy – that we're just throwing away into the environment when we could be making SO much better use of it.
In a US first, four companies (including a Canadian one) will collaborate to make new EV battery cells with recycled metals, which could lead to a 25% drop in CO2 emissions in the production process. Commercial production of the batteries is set to begin in 2024.
Yes! Sounds like a good start but we need SO MUCH MORE more reclaiming and recycling of battery materials, please. 🙏
Speaking of EVs – according to S&P Global Mobility, 10.5% of all vehicles registered in Canada last quarter were battery electric or plug-in hybrid electric. That’s up from 9.1% in Q1.
Interesting to see that British Columbia and Quebec lead the rest of the provinces in BEV and PHEV registrations, with 20.5% of all registrations in BC and 18.4% of all registrations in Quebec being electric or plug-in hybrid. That’s nowhere close to Norway's numbers, where 79% of all vehicles sold last year were electric, but a lot higher than the US, where 7% of registered vehicles were electric/PHEV in the first quarter of the year.
I’m actually surprised the BC numbers are so high. One in five! Should be interesting to see what all these numbers look like in five years’ time.
This week saw the release of Apple’s new iPhone 15, which is the first iPhone to use a standard USB-C port for charging instead of Apple’s proprietary Lightning charger. This may not seem like the hugest of deals but every move toward greater modularity and decreased resource use in tech is a good thing in my books.
(When MacBook made the switch to USB-C a few years ago, I thought I’d miss its old magnetic charging cable but it turns out using the same cable for multiple devices is way more convenient and satisfying than feeling that little “click” when the magnet charger connected to the computer. Who woulda think? 😮😆)
The US Department of Energy has announced a conditional commitment to Eos Energy Enterprises for a $400 million loan to be used in the construction of four "state-of-the-art production lines" that will be used to manufacture utility- and industrial-scale zinc-bromine battery energy storage systems in Pennsylvania. Once completed, the four production lines could produce eight gigawatt-hours’ worth of batteries annually by 2026—enough to meet the daily needs of up to 130,000 homes.
I had to do a double take because I thought this Conversation article was about Eos and its zinc-bromine batteries mentioned above. But nope! This one’s about the potential of zinc-ion batteries and the role they could play in supporting grid-scale energy storage in Canada and worldwide. The article feels a wee bit like a commercial for Nova Scotia-based battery maker Salient Energy (mentioned at the very end) – but if their batteries live up to the hype, that would probably be a good thing for our energy infrastructure.
The UN recently published this article outlining five ways to power the energy transition. I especially like #3: “Make renewable energy technology a global public good.”
YESSSS enough with the walled gardens keeping people from accessing technology we desperately need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels and create a more sustainable future for ALL of us. (Not to mention, you know, avert climate catastrophe.)
A recent study commissioned by Brisbane’s city council found that 80% of visitors said e-scooters enhanced their experience of the Australian city and increased the number of places they were able to see and experience. Unsurprisingly, Brisbane’s robust cycling infrastructure was cited as a factor.
Build the infrastructure and the riders will come! 🛴⚡🚴
I love this Yale Environment 360 article about the Menominee tribe of Wisconsin, who have sustainably logged their forests for almost 170 years. Their main strategy for maintaining the health and profitability of what the article calls “one of the most remarkable working forests in the United States” is to make decisions based on what’s best for the health of the forest and remove only the weak, sick, and dying trees while leaving the healthy stock to continue growing and reproducing.
Now if only forestry companies in Canada and elsewhere would follow their example... 🌳🌲🙏
That’s it for this week! Stay tuned for more Awesome Future emails in the days to come – and if there are any green tech or sustainability-related stories you'd like me to post about, please send them my way!✌️