back to article If it's Goodenough for me, it's Goodenough for you: Canuck utility biz goes all in on solid-state glass battery boffinry

A Canadian utility company says it will try to commercialise 2019 Nobel Prize winner John Goodenough's controversial fast-charging, non-flammable glass battery. Goodenough is best known as part of the team that invented the rechargeable lithium-ion battery during the 1970s and '80s. The team, which also includes British- …

  1. Chronos
    Thumb Up

    Progress

    If this is true, it will destroy completely my aversion for electric vehicles. One thing: What's the projected energy density? Is it comparable to Li-ion?

    1. ClockworkOwl
      Coat

      Re: Progress

      Technically, the higher limits on energy density will be lower for sodium based cells. Sodium just weighs more than lithium...

      However, it will very much depend on the actual engineering solutions, as electrolyte and electrode make the most difference. (ie. solid electrolyte : probably more dense, but stronger so less required???)

      So I'm not sure...

      1. spider from mars

        Re: Progress

        A solid metal anode would cut the weight of the battery by a lot.

        I don't know if sodium batteries will be competitive for mobile devices or EVs, but they could be great for grid or home storage as it's about 1/30th of the price.

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "Critics have been understandably sceptical"

    Those critics are Nobel Prize winners ? I don't think so. So, when you're skeptical of a Nobel Prize winner's declarations, you first test that he's wrong before spouting nonsense.

    On top of that, these critics are up against Dr Goodenough, which already has a history of demonstrating that critics are wrong.

    I know this is Science, and Science requires critical thinking as well as skepticism, but honestly, from what I've read about the guy whose name has nothing to do with his competence, when he says something, you would do better to just shut up and listen.

    Goodenough. It boggles the mind to realize that the man who has brought us the technology that kids' hands are grafted to, that allows literally billions of people to communicate with each other almost instantly, that man's name is Goodenough.

    I realize that Oneoftheverybest was probably not an option.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: "Critics have been understandably sceptical"

      I realize that Oneoftheverybest was probably not an option.

      Hpw about a new first name "MoreThan".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Critics have been understandably sceptical"

        Or his underachieving cousin "Upto" ?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Critics have been understandably sceptical"

          There was the time someone tried to impersonate him. He was caught, because he was just Not Goodenough....

          1. Kane Silver badge
            Flame

            Re: "Critics have been understandably sceptical"

            Take the upvote and leave.

    2. steven_t

      Re: "Critics have been understandably sceptical"

      According to Wikipedia, his middle name is Bannister, which means he can legitimately call himself Johnny B Goodenough.

    3. Dazed and Confused

      Re: "Critics have been understandably sceptical"

      > Those critics are Nobel Prize winners ?

      Sure you can disagree with a Nobel Prize winner. If you can prove that you're right they'll probably give you a Nobel prize for your efforts too. That's how science works, I imagine that the good Dr Goodenough will happily pin the prize on your chest. Then take what you've achieved and run with it and maybe give the world an even better battery.

      On the other hand, it's more likely that the sceptics have some vested interest in the current tech.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: "Critics have been understandably sceptical"

        Linus Pauling received two Nobel prizes, and frankly I'm pretty suspicious of anyone who doesn't disagree with him about vitamin-megadose "therapy".

        1. Dazed and Confused

          Re: "Critics have been understandably sceptical"

          True, but his prize for chemistry wasn't to do with his later theories about making expensive urine. Great thinkers in one area aren't always great thinkers in others.

    4. The Nazz Silver badge

      Re: "Critics have been understandably sceptical"

      I may be mistaken, but didn't Obama and G Thunberg get awarded Nobel prizes and they definitely were/are open to criticism.

      OK, admittedly, they weren't scientific Nobel's for what you say actually holds true.

      I'm just thankful that the Nobel committee never sunk low enough to reward that financial superhero "i saved the world" Brown.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Arthur C Clarke's law applies, I hope

    If an elderly but distinguished scientist says that something is possible, he is almost certainly right; but if he says that it is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

  4. Blank Reg Silver badge

    Still a problem though

    Even if this works as advertised, there still limitations as to how fast you can charge the battery. To charge an EV battery fully in just minutes would require a cable the size of a fire hose, unless someone finally comes up with a viable room temperature stable superconductor.

    1. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: Still a problem though

      Indeed, and major upgrades to power supply infrastructure. It will come, but I doubt it will be in my lifetime despite the UK Government's "commitments" (in fact all they've committed to is to discuss it with interested parties).

      1. Fonant

        Re: Still a problem though

        Major power supply upgrades may not be needed, if local energy storage is available. Like a big bank of batteries that can be gently charged 24/7/365 to provide short sharp bursts of power to charge cars. Helps, in fact, to even out load on the Grid.

        Many cars will be charged slowly over night, or slowly while sitting in the company car park during the day. Both helping to reduce peak demand spikes and lifting off-peak load.

        1. eldakka Silver badge

          Re: Still a problem though

          And further to this, if these batteries can be charged in minutes, with the 10's of thousands recharge cycles, then the required battery range of many commuter vehicles could be reduced, due to being able to charge it in minutes, and a smaller battery even less minutes, thus reducing the size and weight of batteries required on the vehicles, thus improving vehicle efficiency (less weight to push around).

          This would apply for the vast majority of vehicles that never leave the cities or diverge from major highways. But it doesn't really apply to vehicles that need a long range, that tend to travel more remote routes that have less access to recharge points, e.g. 'outback' travel to remote towns/cities/farms/science stations, etc.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Still a problem though

          "Major power supply upgrades may not be needed, if local energy storage is available."

          Sorry to burst your bubble, but....

          You might not have to overbuild the GRID to such an extent, but the charge/discharge losses through battery cycles mean that this stuff really is intended for peak trimming or emergency backup _only_ otherwise you're doubling the cost of power for no good reason other than to increase overall generation requirements.

          And that brings us to overall generation requirements. Taking the amount of carbon-sourced power generation in the UK in any given year 2000-2010 and calling it "N" TWh.

          Renewables can slightly outproduce N, but only by a small amount. Beyond that the law of diminishing returns kicks in extremely hard (and you really don't want wind turbines nearby, blades have been recorded travelling over a mile when they break) and by the time you hit 1.5 x N you can effectively invest an infinite amount for no increase in capacity.

          That's fine, but electricity only accounts for about 1/3 of carbon emissions and getting rid of the other 2/3 is where it gets hairy:

          An electric domestic (as in privately owned) vehicle fleet will require about N TWh per year by itself.

          An electric commercial vehicle fleet will require 1-2 N TWh

          Eliminating gas/oil from domestic heating will require about N TWh to replace it, even with better insulation and if planning laws are changed to allow superefficient stuff on "listed buildings"

          Commercial premises heating will be about the same N TWh

          Replacing carbon in industrial processes apart from steel and cementmaking will be 1-2N

          Replacing carbon in steel and cementmaking (especially kilns!) will be 2-4N

          All that means

          A lot more generating capacity will be needed

          Greater grid capacity to hanlde those average flows

          All those vehicles charging overnight is likely to turn "night rate" on its head

          And there's the "slight" problem of UK mains distribution being predicated on residences drawing 1kW at most for sustained periods.

          Add a few 7kW car chargers - every house in my area has 1-2 cars as the public transport is lousy and UNsuited to anyone except bankers heading into London - and you'll have more than few exploding footpaths and subterranean tunnels as stressed feeders blow out, along with most of the street-level submain distribution transformers. The idea of streetside chargers in most urban areas falls apart when you realise you essentially require a COMPLETE OVERBUILD of the existing mains distribution system in any given area to handle them - something that I simply can't see happening in only 15 years when you factor in the costs.

          Batteries can help allieviate local short term issues but they don't deal with the elephant in the room - current approaches are on par with handling local flooding by building better drains to dump it in the river - ensuring more flooding for the folks downstream - deeper, faster flowing and faster rising. We can't make this "someone else's problem" and it increasingly looks like we'll be at rolling blackouts by the time politicians admit a serious energy planning disaster took place in the late 2010s/early 2020s

    2. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: Still a problem though

      Higher voltage means lower required wire size, so I wonder if it's possible to either stick a transformer on the pointy end of the charging cable, or built into the car?

      1. Blank Reg Silver badge

        Re: Still a problem though

        Perhaps, but higher voltage also requires more/better insulation. So the weight could come down but the cable might still be huge.

        Superchargers are already pushing 300amps at 480v, how much higher can we go before it's too dangerous to allow the average idiot anywhere near the charge? Maybe there will be new job openings for pump jockeys to operate these 1000amp chargers

        1. Dazed and Confused

          Re: Still a problem though

          One of our local petrol stations is just about next door to the switching station where the 11KV lines come it. As you say, qualified people might be allowed to hook your car up to an 11KV feed.

          1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
            Mushroom

            Re: Still a problem though

            One might even coin a phrase, 'the quick, the dead and the unqualified' in that case.

            1. Dazed and Confused

              Re: Still a problem though

              Darwin awards await the impatient.

              1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: Still a problem though

                I _can_ assure the reader that the unwary and impatient do smell just like pork when Darwin calls in this manner.....

            2. eldakka Silver badge
              Coat

              Re: Still a problem though

              What a shocking development.

          2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

            Re: local petrol stations ... about next door to the switching station where the 11KV lines come it

            qualified people aka some bright sparks: might not be a job with good long-term prospects.

        2. Orv

          Re: Still a problem though

          Most of the danger can be avoided if you make sure the connection can never be made or broken "hot." This is how all EV charge connectors (even lowly 240 volt Level 2) work; there's a low voltage pilot connection that makes after the high-voltage one, and breaks before it, and signals the charger to cut the flow.

          There'd also be a stronger magnetic field from a 1000 amp cable, but a back of the envelope calculation suggests it's still three orders of magnitude too small to erase a credit card. ;)

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

      Re: Still a problem though

      "....unless someone finally comes up with a viable room temperature stable superconductor. ..."

      Hold my beer!

      Yttrium Copper Garnet Gallium Nitro-Oxide Ceramic

      THERE! You now have a 10 C to 180 C temperature STABLE superconductor!

      (We invented it here in Vancouver!)

      What else do you think we're going to do with that 60 GHz 128-bits wide 119 ExaFLOP supercomputer we have here in our Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada warehouse?

      ,

      1. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

        Re: Still a problem though

        P.S. That one is a freebie for all of you!

        It's all yours free and clear as Open Source Hardware and Materials Design under GPL-3 !!!

        Yttrium Copper Garnet Gallium Nitro-Oxide Ceramic

        THERE! You now have a 10 C to 180 C temperature STABLE superconductor!

        ... Wait until you see our Gravitronic Engine design !!!

        It will get you to Mars or to Keppler 22b in mere seconds.

        That FULL CAD/CAM/FEA engineering and aerospace planform design is an Open Source GPL-3 freebie too!

        ..

        1. DJO Silver badge

          Re: Still a problem though

          Interesting but no cigar.

          You got the temperature units wrong, it's not "10 C to 180 C" but "10 K to 180 K", 273 degrees cooler.

          Pretty good for a superconductor, liquid Nitrogen temperatures but certainly not room temperature.

          1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Still a problem though

            Significantly more feasible and attainable than liquid helium temperatures, though.

          2. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

            Re: Still a problem though

            NO! that would be 10 degrees Celcius (or 283.15 Degrees Kelvin) to 180 Degrees Celcius or 453.15 Degrees Kelvin !!!

            Sorry but I have access to gear YOU SIMPLY DO NOT HAVE and the freebie compound is:

            Yttrium Copper Garnet Gallium Nitroxide Ceramic

            Almost all current research has been on Yttrium Copper Garnet Oxides when Gallium and a Nitroxide are the stabilizing element and compound allowing free electron flow at high temperatures.

            Like I said earlier, THAT is the freebie --- Add the Gallium and a Nitroxide and you've got ROOM TEMPERATURE PLUS free electron flow aka a Superconductor!

            Sorry! But it's a $250 million dollar supercomputer and it WORKS very well indeed !!!

            in addition to the Doctoral level physicists and and nuclear chemistry majors!

            I would defer to their expertise!

            --

            1. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

              Re: Still a problem though

              AND ...... Wait until you see the Gravitronic Engine design which uses a rather simple virtualized cavity resonator and waveguide to allow FTL travel ..... THAT will know your socks off !!!

              The above room term superconductor formula AND the gravitronic engine designs are all Open Source under GPL-3 licence terms --- so it's all yours to experiment with!

              Have at it!

              --

              1. DJO Silver badge

                Re: Still a problem though

                Sorry but you are wrong.

                Anybody with a superconductor that works up to 180C would have a fleet of gold Ferraris as a superconductor working nearly boiling point would solve a million problems from energy storage and transmission to efficient motors, levitating trains and, well, everything.

                A 180C superconductor would be world breaking news, Nobel prizes guaranteed. Such news has not broken therefore it didn't happen.

                TBH a superconductor at 180K is pretty damn impressive and that's where the work is now.

                1. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

                  Re: Still a problem though

                  Laddie! Are ye Daft?

                  I just gave you the chemistry. IT'S FREE FOR THE TAKING !!!

                  Yttrium Copper Garnet Gallium Nitroxide Ceramic

                  Full free electron flow (aka a Superconductor!) from 10 degrees Celcius (or 283.15 Degrees Kelvin) to 180 Degrees Celcius or 453.15 Degrees Kelvin !!!

                  Almost all other current research has been on Yttrium Copper Garnet Oxides when the addition of Gallium and a Nitroxide are REQUIRED as the stabilizing element and compound allowing free electron flow at high temperatures above 10 Celcius (283.15K).

                  What else do ya need? A superconductor IS NOTHING compared to what else is in our labs.....

                  All those Nobel Prizes would have to be awarded to a 160 IQ Whole Brain Emulation then which is NOT what the prize committee intended I would suspect.

                  ..

                  We're COMPLETELY under the radar (although we ARE a large corporation!). You have NEVER heard of us and that is EXACTLY the way we like it. A lot MORE discoveries will be simply released as OPEN SOURCE within this and the next year.

                  ---

                  Yttrium Copper Garnet Gallium Nitroxide Ceramic

                  Go try it now! This one is a FREEBIE for the world!

                  --

                  1. DJO Silver badge

                    Re: Still a problem though

                    No, you gave me junk,.

                    Yttrium Copper Garnet Gallium Nitroxide Ceramic

                    Nitroxides are cyclic radicals which are completely unsuitable for ceramics, they would break down long before the ceramic was formed.

                    Garnet isn't even a chemical, it's a group of gemstones, the most common ones are:

                    Almandine: Fe3Al2(SiO4)3

                    Pyrope: Mg3Al2(SiO4)3

                    Spessartine: Mn3Al2(SiO4)3

                    Th only common bit is the silicate part, silicates are not among the chemicals known to superconduct at any temperature, much the opposite in fact, silicates are insulators.

                    This forum is not the place for fantasy chemistry, people here know far too much.

                    The current superconducting record is lanthanum hydride (LaH10) at 250K

                    This bit made me laugh:

                    Full free electron flow (aka a Superconductor!) from 10 degrees Celcius (or 283.15 Degrees Kelvin) to 180 Degrees Celcius or 453.15 Degrees Kelvin

                    A minimum temperature for a superconductor? What happens if it's too cold?

                    1. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

                      Re: Still a problem though

                      Laddie! Are Yer STILL DAFT as a Dundee?

                      Try it in yer lab! AND Don't add Barium! ...

                      Garnet is merely a shortened nomenclature ... I know what a Corundum is!

                      Ya have yer hints !! You're already half-way down the road since it looks like ye is a chemist/materials engineer!

                      I think you know FULL WELL what do with this!

                      Too Cold? That would probably be because of the Gallium ... but I already think you knew that!

                      Tisn't fantasy chemistry if it works!

                      Y(CuO2)2Mg3Al2(SiO4)3Ga(NO2)2

                      I think that's about right... Mind you, I am NOT a chemist I don't balance chemical formulas very well ... I just work in computer graphics!

                      Just remember DON'T ADD BARIUM !!!

                      Hmmm .... If I'm reading that last part correctly ... is that Gallium DiNitrogen TetraOxide?

                      I should ask the boffins here if I got that correct!

                      ..

                  2. DJO Silver badge

                    Re: Still a problem though

                    Hi, me again..

                    It's obvious you have no idea of what you are going on about because of (at least) 2 obvious and glaring mistakes:

                    "180 Degrees Celcius or 453.15 Degrees Kelvin"

                    You cannot introduce accuracy on unit conversion, you should say "453 Kelvin"

                    Nobody ever would say "Degrees Kelvin", it is just "Kelvin" - It's an SI unit, there is no room for personalisation.

                    1. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

                      Re: Still a problem though

                      I'm obviously NOT a chemist BUT I can damn well personalize ANYTHING I want to!

                      So If I want to say that Hydrohydroxic Acid or DiHydrogen Monoxide is utterly deadly to ALL humans in certain situations then THAT is what I will say .....!!!

                      ...

                      Jim! I'm Graphics Artist. Not a Chemist!

                      /s

                      1. DJO Silver badge

                        Re: Still a problem though

                        "I'm Graphics Artist. Not a Chemist!"

                        Obviously.

                        If you have been told all this by a chemist, he's trolling you. 250K is the current limit for superconductors. An improvement to say 275K would be massive news all over the physics world.

                        One at 453K would be the biggest science news for decades. It's not been news, not a tiny hint anywhere, not even a discredited rumour, nothing, nowt, not a peep - except for you.

                        1. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

                          Re: Still a problem though

                          They just did release it:

                          Y(CuO2)2Mg3Al2(SiO4)3Ga(NO2)2

                          As far as I know, THIS IS the actual formula for a room temperature superconductor. I just rechecked with the head honchos this morning and they HAVE confirmed that this IS the specific formula.

                          I understand an announcement / release has ALREADY been sent out to specific entities for further confirmation along with the actual processes use to "bake" the ceramic-like material. Again, this is OPEN SOURCE completely free to use under GPL3 licence terms for hardware and materials engineering purposes.

                          If my lacklustre chemistry formula reading is correct, I think it's Yttrium DiCopper-Tetraoxide + (Garnet) + Gallium DiNitrogen-Tetroxide

                          Give it a try -- Looks like it works!

                          ..

                          1. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

                            Re: Still a problem though

                            Ahhhhh laddie, NOW I understand WHY Magnesium Aluminates and Silicates were ADDED !!!

                            Using an analogy, they are the WIRE COVERING that allows the Yttrium Copper and Gallium Tetroxide compounds to be protected from outside influences so that ROOM TEMPERATURE superconductivity may occur within TUNNELS OF SUPERCONDUCTIVITY!

                            Using an analogy to Helium Superfluidity where a supercold fluid (i.e. helium) suddenly loses all viscosity and allows said fluid to flow without loss of kinetic energy, this can ALSO be applied to electricity where it is the underlying configuration and protective blanket of a ceramic crystalline sub-structure (i.e. Garnet) that allow the other compounds to lose all resistance to electron flow allowing electrons to move without resistance from one place to another!

                            The Garnet performs as the protective "wire-covering" and the Gallium is KEY to allowing the Yttrium Copper Oxides to lose all resistance AT ROOM TEMPERATURE AND BEYOND!

                            Sooooooo......

                            Y(CuO2)2Mg3Al2(SiO4)3Ga(NO2)2

                            IS A CONFIRMED SUPERCONDUCTOR at a tested range to allow FREE ELECTRON FLOW

                            starting from 10 degrees Celcius (or 283.15 Kelvin) to 180 Degrees Celcius or 453.15 Kelvin !!!

                            ( *** I suspect the 10C lower bound is probably for mechanical reasons due to the Gallium AND I think there is a SPECIFIC reaction and/or catalysis between the Aluminum, Magnesium and the Gallium Oxides that is REQUIRED to happen during composition but that is something you chemists need to figure out when "Baking" the compounds to form superconductive rods and plates)

                            ALL IS FREE OPEN SOURCE UNDER THE OPEN SOURCE GPL-3 licence terms applicable to general and embedded computer hardware and their designs, materials formulae and their manufacturing processes, and for general engineered systems plus their designs and manufacture!

                            .

                            IT'S ALL YOURS EARTHLINGS !!! ---- You Can Run With It Now!

                            .

                            1. DJO Silver badge

                              Re: Still a problem though

                              Gimmie a "B"

                              Gimmie a "U"

                              Gimmie a "L"

                              Gimmie another "L"

                              Gimmie a "S"

                              Gimmie a "H"

                              Gimmie an "I"

                              Gimmie a "T"

                              what's that spell?

                              Searching all 300 billion trillion pages on the interwebthingy, this forum is the only place that formula can be found.

                              1. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

                                Re: Still a problem though

                                Well you probably HAVE chemist friends or university profs --- SHOW and Ask them what they think!

                                It's released and NOW FREE for general use!

                                All Yours!

                                If the profs say what about the missing Barium, I was told DO NOT ADD the Barium !!!

                                Gallium and the Garnet are the KEY ingredients to making ROOM TEMPERATURE SUPERCONDUCTIVITY actually work in the real world!

                                .

                                ---

          3. Mike 16 Silver badge

            Re: Not room temperature?

            Not so sure. I recall some computer rooms early 1960s. "Room temperature" was a bit low for storing American beer. :-)

      2. Robert Moore
        Coat

        Re: Still a problem though

        "What else do you think we're going to do with that 60 GHz 128-bits wide 119 ExaFLOP supercomputer we have here in our Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada warehouse?"

        As a Vancouver native, what I really want to know is how many FPS on Quake?

        1. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

          Re: Still a problem though

          The display system is a 64-bit RGBA colour laser running at 10,000 fps at 131,072 by 131,072 pxiels (i.e. 128k by 128k) which is the current maximum frame rate we display even though the computer hardware itself is capable of much higher refresh rates. The limitation is the colour laser's rotating multi-mirror Z-pattern scanning system which would disintegrate if it goes any faster!

          Another division is working on giant sheets of micro-LEDs printed on borosilicate glass plates of 2 metre by 2 metre sizes. We would get VERY high resolutions, and since each sheet would have it's own localized buffers and have separate fibre connections to the main compute system all running in parallel, we could make tiled multi-megapixel by multi-megapixel displays that would eventually hit the 100,000 fps limit of the 7 to 20 nanosecond IGBT power-switching systems.

          Right now our Doom limit is 10,000 fps !!! (and YES we have played DOOM on it at 128k by 128k with custom textures!)

          .. Sorry... I can't bring the entire system out to Mission !!! -- It won't fit into the trucks any more!

          ..

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Still a problem though

        "in our Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada warehouse?"

        This is the location of Warehouse 14 ?

        1. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

          Re: Still a problem though

          A few blocks south from the PNE !!! 60 feet down in a 40,000 PSI concrete, steel and copper-slab-encased bunker in a residential area where you would NEVER find it! It's maybe the size of a tennis court and four stories high! Even the large garage is hidden underground! You would NEVER know it's there! And yet there it is as the WORLD'S FASTEST compute system at a SUSTAINED 119 ExaFLOPS of 128-bits wide RGBA/YCbCrA/HSLA pixel and floating point, fixed point and integer number crunching horsepower!!!

          And we call it Hangar 18 !!!

          Our ACTUAL HANGAR is in Richmond near YVR and YES it really does have a black, triangular "aerospace" craft parked undercover to be taken out only at night!

          AND YES I've got my "Wings" (those in-the-know will know what I mean!)

          ..

          .

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Still a problem though

      To charge an EV battery fully in just minutes would require a cable the size of a fire hose

      This. You won't believe how much ignorance abounds amongst the greenies who want us all in battery powered vehicles. You'd think that someone advocating electric cars would have at least some basics down about electricity and safe distribution.

      This is for me the core reason why I am far more interested in fuel cells and e-fuels. I'm fully onboard with the idea that in the future we mainly generate power in electric form (wind, sun, tidal, MSR fission, fusion), but the distribution perspective requires a high energy density per kg, and that doesn't favour batteries. However, we're well equipped to distribute liquids as we've been doing that for ages.

      That said, I suspect the battery idea will be with us for a while because that's what is currently (sorry :) ) drawing the investment.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Still a problem though

        " However, we're well equipped to distribute liquids as we've been doing that for ages."

        If you want to do that in ANY quantity, then you need nuclear heating as the source of sufficient energy - and molten salt nuclear loops as a necessity because water-moderated systems simply aren't hot enough.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Still a problem though

          molten salt nuclear loops as a necessity because water-moderated systems simply aren't hot enough

          Let's start with the fact that they're MUCH safer and can be made so compact that they can function as point solutions instead of centralised plants in need of a distribution network. I think we'll see a lot of MSR/LFTR deployment in the near future now China has gone live with a few.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Still a problem though

          Hmm, isn't thermochemical also a better way to produce hydrogen gas than electrolysis? It would need to be a bit higher than the "standard" MSR operating temperature of some 700ºC (I think it needs 950ºC instead), but I don't think that would present much of a problem.

          An MSR could thus easily produce TWO types of fossil fuel replacements. Interesting.

    5. rcxb Silver badge

      Re: Still a problem though

      To charge an EV battery fully in just minutes would require a cable the size of a fire hose

      Tesla Supercharger cables are nowhere near the size of a fire-hose. Doubling or quadrupling them still won't incrase them to the size of a fire-hose... Closer to a garden-hose, really.

      And that's the naive way to go. Assemble your batteries into higher-voltage packs, and you could double charging time with ZERO increase in the size of conductors. As typical charging times today are already under an hour, doubling the voltage and doubling the current would get you charging times of 15 minutes or so.

      Another option is to shorten the charging cables... Design your parking spots to better align the vehicle charging receptacle with the charging station, and you can significantly reduce the charging cable length. Half the length means half the resistance. There's no reason to limit EV charging stations to the same designs as legacy fuel stations.

      1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Re: Still a problem though

        <quote>

        Another option is to shorten the charging cables... Design your parking spots to better align the vehicle charging receptacle with the charging station, and you can significantly reduce the charging cable length. Half the length means half the resistance. There's no reason to limit EV charging stations to the same designs as legacy fuel stations.

        </quote>

        Just because it's the future doesn't mean that people can now park.

        1. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

          Re: Still a problem though

          >"Just because it's the future doesn't mean that people can now park."

          But modern cars can park themselves.

          No reason they can't complete the connection to charge themselves.

          Soon they can drive themselves.

          With fully automated manufacturing they may even be able to make themselves.

          Only problem, will they still need us?

      2. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Still a problem though

        To charge an EV battery fully in just minutes would require a cable the size of a fire hose

        National Grid overhead transmission lines have a diameter of between 27mm and 40mm. They are then tripled together for the biggest capacity.

        So one solution might be to have a large power reservoir buffer at the point of charging, and more than one flexible thinner cable cable into the battery. The firehose suggestion is just daft.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Still a problem though

          The firehose suggestion is just daft

          As a figurative illustration it isn't bad.

          People advocating higher voltages seem to forget that you then also have to elevate protection (insulating it from idiots) and you have to decide if you want to up the voltage in the entire car of lose weight on an extra transformer that only has a job during recharging. It quickly gets quite complicated.

          1. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

            Re: Still a problem though

            Still unlikely to be larger than a typical gas (petrol?) pump hose.

            And I would assume that any high voltage (kV) system would have safety interlocks and only apply voltages after a safe connection was verified.

            Not so long ago gas pumps where not considered safe enough for the general public, so each gas station had dedicated attendants to handle the refuelling.

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Still a problem though

            "of lose weight on an extra transformer that only has a job during recharging"

            High charge currents are DC, not AC and this is all done with with extremely fast, extremely high current semiconductors.

            Mass isn't a problem - no transformer in sight - The currently insanely expensive prices of some of these devices is a very serious limiting factor.

            1. Orv

              Re: Still a problem though

              I think in current DC fast charging schemes the car's electronics are mostly bypassed, and power is delivered directly at the pack's charging voltage.

              Even Level 2 charging doesn't generally use transformers, at least not ones operating at 50/60 Hz. It uses switching type power supplies like you'll find in a modern PC.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Still a problem though

          "So one solution might be to have a large power reservoir buffer at the point of charging,"

          Unsurprisingly, Tesla is sticking battery banks behind their busier superchargers.....

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Still a problem though

        Fast charging at these voltages and currents comes with a shitload of safety and other concerns extending across more than battery safety and the charge cable - such as "how do you avoid melting the local distribution substation?" and "How do you deal with a load that spiky?" and "fire risk from heating"

        - Things like needing _pristine_ connectors to avoid self-heating and runaway thermal effects - when was the last time you saw a _really_ clean automotive electrical plug? Look at all the crud that builds up around the filler as it is.

        (Hint: bulk electricity rates have _huge_ penalties for short term peaks or odd power factors)

        Besides it dumps a shitload of waste heat in the process as faster charging rates happen at reduced efficiency.

        None of the above are insurmountable, but in the medium-to-long term as EVs age this is going to become a more serious issue

        For most charging you don't NEED 5-10 minutes. This is the kind of thing you'd normally only do on a road trip when you don't want to stop for more than an hour for a rest or if you're a taxi driver needing to fill up and be out again because time is money (and then you're facing hour limits in the seat anyway)

        Normally you'd want to pull into a services, plug into a "slower" charger in a carpark full of chargers (no such thing as EV-only parking) and go indoors for a pee, a pie and a chance to read El Reg, then come out to a charged up vehicle and no stupid penalties for being 10 minutes over or other jobsworthianness.

        Petrol stations have forecourts and well-isolated pumps because the fuel is dangerous when spilled. When was the last time you saw a bucket of electrons spilling across your carpet from the end of an uncapped extension lead?

    6. Long John Brass
      Happy

      Re: Still a problem though

      I have recently switched to a Nissan Leaf(30kw/h)

      The charging issues are not as bad as everyone makes out. Overnight charging from the household supply brings me up to a full charge. And I recently tested a fast charger battery was at 20% and I charged to 80% in about 15-20 minutes. Just enough time for a coffee and peruse the news sites (Well, ElReg)

      Yes there is a change in how you think about "fuelling" your car. But the ability to charge at your house takes care of most of the worries I had. If these "glass" batteries have better performance then the range anxiety will go too

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Still a problem though

        "Overnight charging from the household supply brings me up to a full charge."

        Wait until all your neighbours have one too - then look for the fire to find your local distribution transformer as they all try to charge at once (or your section of the street blinks dark)

        1. Orv

          Re: Still a problem though

          Here in SoCal it's less of a problem than you'd think, because the distribution system was designed to cope with daytime A/C loads. Charging at night, when those loads are lessened, is heavily incentivized. My nighttime rate can be as low as a third of what I pay during peak hours.

    7. Jr4162

      Re: Still a problem though

      Depends on the voltage of the battery pack in the car. If they had a 1000 volt or 5000 volt charging voltage, the wire would probably be a manageable diameter. The car would then use dc to dc converters to lower the voltage to something appropriate for its battery system.

      I am thinking of recharge stations that are not part of a house.

      In a residence, the charging rate will be limited by the surplus capacity of the electrical connection. People might have to settle for a 4 hour recharge time when charging at home.

      1. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

        Re: Still a problem though

        Some current Tesla batteries battery packs operate up to 400v. Using a modular 4 battery configuration they could be charged in series at 1600V. Then used in parallel to supply one motor or independently for a one motor per wheel setup.

      2. Orv

        Re: Still a problem though

        At home charging speed isn't nearly as important. Generally you're charging the car at night, so there's at LEAST 8 hours of downtime. My daily commute can be taken care of with just Level 1 charging, although I switched to Level 2 because it was less of a strain on the house's electrical system. (16A from a 240V/30A circuit causes quite a bit less conductor heating than 12A from a 120V/15A circuit.)

  5. Andre Carneiro

    1000 cycles?

    Pretty sure EV batteries are rated for much more than 1000 cycles...

    Regarding the “hosepipe charging cable”... you’re still in the wrong mind set.

    The idea is that the car is charging at a sensible rate whilst you’re either sleeping or at work. Rapid charging should be the exception rather than the rule.

    Having bought an EV 9 months ago (and I have a 100 mile daily round trip commute), I am truly flummoxed by the amount of resistance from ICE drivers.

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: 1000 cycles?

      It may well be a matter of $$

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 1000 cycles?

        For my family, an EV makes no sense. We don't use the car *at all* during the week, because we cycle and use trains for the school run and the commute. If we do use our car at the weekend, we're doing 200 miles or more after work on a Friday, and don't want to have to worry about having to wait for the limited number of charging points available at motorway services / supermarkets etc. rather than getting to our destination and then getting to bed. I've also got better things to do than spend my free time on a weekend away from home looking for somewhere to charge my car so that I can get home again.

        I *will* buy an electric car, when I can get a guaranteed minimum range of 400 miles from a fully laden car costing about £30,000 on the road. Right now, for my family use, I *would* buy a Nissan Nv200e minivan thing if the battery pack had it's capacity tripled.

        1. Andre Carneiro

          Re: 1000 cycles?

          OK, so it’s not currently adequate for your particular use.

          It will be once the battery tech improves (I’d give it no more than 5 years).

          I’m not sure I understand the point of your post.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: 1000 cycles?

            The point of my post is that it's not about the cost, and that for some people "range anxiety" is a concern based on their actual usual use of a car, rather than scare mongering.

            *if* I commuted by car, I would already own an EV. I've got a neighbour who commutes daily over 50 miles each way in an EV, but their car simply wouldn't work for my lifestyle, and there is no EV available right now in the UK that would work for me. (Teslas cost far too much for an average family car, and in addition, can't carry bikes for 4 people...)

            There's also the rather interesting question of whether the national grid is going to have enough reserve (not wind or solar) capacity added in time to meet the UK government's timescale for phasing out internal combustion cars....

            1. werdsmith Silver badge

              Re: 1000 cycles?

              My EV is a second car. No way I would go back to an old fashioned ICE only car now.

              1. quxinot Silver badge

                Re: 1000 cycles?

                I'm almost a perfect canidate for an electric car. My commute is very short and I don't travel long distance by car with any frequency (highly unusual to go more than 200miles in a day).

                And yet it will be quite a cold day in hell before I own one. I like to drive, and I like control. Not being fantastically wealthy, the trackday cars are priced out of my range, and every other electric car that I've seen is either a horrible economy car, or has firmware that as an owner I am not allowed to be placed in control of altering (i.e., the typical Tesla 'updates' that change behavior without my express permission).

                With gasoline or heaven forbid a diesel, I have a reasonable shot at the very worse simply replacing an ECU if I can't find a way to reflash it to function in the way I desire.

                It's bad enough with phones.

                1. Long John Brass

                  Re: 1000 cycles?

                  With you on the "Software" side of these new cars; But that's not limited to just EV cars.

                  My Leaf won't win any races. But it's no slug off the line :)

                  I don't hate ICE cars. If I had the cash I would probably get myself a project/toy/weekend vehicle for shits 'n giggles.

            2. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

              Re: 1000 cycles?

              Since I live in the Province of British Columbia in Canada which by itself is already TWICE THE SIZE of the entire United Kingdom where a 4 to 5 hour drive at 120 kmh from Vancouver to Kelowna on either Highway 1 and 5 or via 97c is a NORMAL weekend thing to do around here, the Tesla Model 3 has a 500 km range which just makes it to Kelowna from Vancouver on one charge so I'm good with it.

              And the Tesla-3 CAN have a bike rack for 4 bikes that has almost no influence on range! I've even stuffed TWO electric scooters on it much less 4 of the Rocky Mountain multi-terrain adventure mountain bikes. We've STILL made it to Kelowna from downtown Vancouver on ONE single charge!

              --

              1. Orv

                Re: 1000 cycles?

                I'm almost to the point of getting one. A typical long distance trip for us is around 250 miles round trip, which comes close to fitting inside the practical range of current cars. One issue that's holding me back is the charging infrastructure -- while there *are* charging stations along the highways here, using them still requires a lot more pre-planning than I'd prefer. I might find it fun, but my wife would find it frustrating and stressful.

    2. Fonant

      Re: 1000 cycles?

      ICE drivers are stuck in the mindset that the car's available energy slowly disappears, needing rapid refilling every now and then. When in fact most EVs will start each day with a "full tank" automatically: no having to stop on car journeys except for very long ones (when you want to stop anyway).

      Then we get onto local energy storage using your car, so you can run your house off the remaining energy in the car battery in the evening :)

      1. Andre Carneiro

        Re: 1000 cycles?

        Not sure I’m sold on the energy storage thing until EV batteries are rated for FAR more cycles than I’m likely to need in a lifetime of driving.

        1. davenewman

          Re: He made one mistake

          The battery doesn't need to last a lifetime. Just enough years you don't mind putting the vehicle in for a service to replace the battery.

          1. ClockworkOwl
            Alert

            Re: He made one mistake

            If you look at the Tesla battery progression, it seems like "hot swappable" batteries may become a thing.

            They're already completely underneath, and have the charger and everything else attached as a whole module.

            Aside from the cost, I suspect it's aready taking more time to update the onboard firmware than swap a model 3 battery whole. So charge at home or work, or head to a swap station for a fully charged and serviced replacement...

            If the battery is out of the car, faster charging should be no trouble, or not even necessary?

            1. werdsmith Silver badge

              Re: He made one mistake

              The model 3 (and a general pattern for EVs) has the battery built into the floor for lowest possible centrre of gravity and maximum interior space. It also has connections for coolant as well as cabling.

              It's a major undertaking, complete disassembly of the car over many hours.

              https://youtu.be/T-MxNpVxIqc

              1. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

                Re: He made one mistake

                Since Telsa gets their cells from Panasonic and sometimes Sanyo, you get a Tesla-3 with "only" a 500 KM range!

                BUT you can get the higher power-density and more expensive Thin Film Lithium Ion cells from the mostly USA and German manufacturers and REPLACE your Tesla Battery with those higher power density cells!

                Your range DOUBLES to 1000+ KM but of course you're paying 3x the price that Tesla pays for their cells! A bit of a trade-off, but I've seen higher end mechanics mod their Teslas with those Thin Film Lithium Ion batteries because THEY CAN !!!

                --

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: He made one mistake

                  Now THAT is interesting. Must look this up.

                  Just worried about fire hazards et al - power is in my house not a problem as I'm in a region where many cook electric. I have a full 3 phase 380V supply to my house and I know the street circuit still has margin to up my supply to 40A/phase if I wanted it to (but I don't need that much for overnight charging).

            2. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: He made one mistake

              "If you look at the Tesla battery progression, it seems like "hot swappable" batteries may become a thing."

              Nope. They were designed with the intention that it WOULD be a thing, but that was proven impractical and the idea has been discontinued

        2. Orv

          Re: 1000 cycles?

          I wouldn't overthink the cycle issue. There are companies using Teslas for livery service, and one of them recently published their maintenance logs. The upshot is you *might* need to think about a battery replacement at about 300,000 miles -- at which point most ICE cars would be junk anyway.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 1000 cycles?

        > When in fact most EVs will start each day with a "full tank" automatically

        followed by

        > Then we get onto local energy storage using your car, so you can run your house off the remaining energy in the car battery in the evening :)

        So, let's get this right, you're going to start the day with a fully charged battery, drive to work, drive home and then you're going to use the rest of the power left in your batter to run the house through until the morning, when presumable the battery will be full again.

        Hmmm am I missing something?

        ICE drivers probably aren't in the wrong mind set until you're guaranteed that everywhere you might ever want to park will have the ability to charge your car. Which as others have pointed out is going to take a complete re-engineering of the electrical supply network for the country.

        If you have a garage at home you can keep you car in and charge over night, and then you have a parking spot at the office with charging then great. It can work for you. But less and less work places have enough car parking let alone parking with charging facilities. Housing estates are being built with out enough parking for the likely number of cars, let alone having enough off street parking so you can hook the cars up to power.

      3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Automatically ?

        Do you by any chance believe that batteries are filled up during the night by house elves ?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Automatically ?

          They arent? Then what's the point?

          :)

  6. PerlyKing Silver badge
    Joke

    This is not the first time Goodenough's ideas have met resistance

    I see what you did there ;-)

    1. J. Cook Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: This is not the first time Goodenough's ideas have met resistance

      You beat me to the punch. It did induce some groans on my side, though.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "It has already developed Goodenough's lithium iron phosphate battery, which uses iron instead of cobalt. The battery provides a longer life cycle and a more constant discharge voltage"

    That has to be a bear to nanage charging (and monitoring discharge levels) Li family of batteries already have relatively flat discharge curves compared to lead-acid.

    1. J. Cook Silver badge

      The other nice thing about the LiFePO4 batteries is that they are less susceptible to thermal runaway if they are shorted. the downside is that they are somewhat less energy dense.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "That has to be a bear to nanage charging (and monitoring discharge levels) "

      Surprisingly, "No" - LiFePo batteries are well understood and easily managed and you always use a balance charger/BMS monitoring individual cells.

      What hasn't been mentioned is that they're essentially non-flammable - they won't burn if pierced/shorted out and they take a LOT of persuasion to burn at all - this plus the greater endurance is why they've been gaining in popularity despite the slightly lower energy density.

  8. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Skeptical

    The biggest problem with all batteries is that the chemical reactions don't return the atoms to exactly where you want them. No battery has ever solved that. The batteries crystalize, crumble, or short out over time. Goodenough's claims haven't been reproduced in any article I can find today.

    There's, of course, a chance that he has no idea what he's talking about because he's discovered a new capacitor that isn't known to exist. He deserves some R&D funding but only with close observation.

    1. J. Cook Silver badge

      Re: Skeptical

      I dunno, he's got a pretty long list of accolades, awards, and other innovations to his credit.

  9. raving angry loony

    Phrasing...

    You write "Goodenough's new battery – co-developed with Maria Helena Braga of the University of Porto, Portugal, and described in a paper published in 2016..."

    Note that the FIRST name on that paper is Braga's. As it is on the 2018 paper you quote. Which means that it's Braga's new battery, co-developed with Goodenough. I've found there's a tendency to minimize the work of female scientists, especially when a famous male scientist was on the team. How about El Reg avoid that mistake for once, unlike so many other publications.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Phrasing...

      I've found there's a tendency to minimize the work of female scientists, especially when a famous male scientist was on the team.

      Citation? I haven't found any gender bias in El Reg - only a certain bias against end users, but that's a job requirement for most of its readers :).

      That said, that error is worth correcting and might be the result of the article being focused on Mr Goodenough.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Phrasing...

        Most of the spadework and idea IS Braga's.

        She came to Goodenough with it, not the other way around - JBG saw potential and made sure she got the R&D backing to actually make it practical. He's put a lot of work into it too.

        If it had been Braga by herself then this would have been dismissed out of hand or taken another 20- years to be taken more seriously. There are a bunch of LiIon battery ideas (including Olivine-based chemistry that would dispell any ingredient shortages for the forseeable future(*)) that still haven't made it out of the lab after more than 20 years research.

        Goodenough is taking the heat on this, but his history is that he's _never_ oversold what he's got. if he thinks it's viable then it most likely is and he's been chasing safer (nonflammable) / more durable LiIon battery tech for decades

        (*) Olivine is one of the primary minerals of the mantle - it's effectively available in infinite quantites anywhere you care to grind up igneous rocks.

    2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: Phrasing...

      Some journals like the aurora to be on alphabetical order, not lead order. I had a law professor who pretended to be upset that he had never been first author for any of his major work, despite having "Bro" as the first letters of his name - he collaborated a great deal with "Ad" and "Bra"!!

  10. Sloppy Crapmonster

    Funeral home

    There was a Goodnuff funeral home near where I grew up. Hey, if it was goodnuff for me...

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Funeral home

      That's missing an 's' in the middle

  11. The_Idiot

    There are, I...

    ... would suggest, a lot of fair comments made here. Comments, often perfectly valid, negatively comparing ICE and EV modes of transport, and why commenters would/ will never switch from ICE. Things like short ranges, the scarcity of fueling and fueling infrastructure stops for EV, the dangers of battery explosion - many others.

    I think, and not intending in any way to shoot at those who have made those comments, that nearly every one, or maybe even every one, might have been offered long ago, when the debate was between the horse and those new-fangled infernal combusted whatchamamcallums. The horse, it could stop and eat some grass at a pinch, or oats at one of the many farms around. The infernal devices? Nary a fuel stop in site, and the fuel itself went bang, or had the potential to go bang, rather more than grass or oats. Range? Hah! Whether a decent rider and a good horse or (with apologies to Roger Cook / Roger Greenaway / Tony Macaulay), high speed runs with horse changes (a la Pony Express) would beat any infernally-thing. And as to skill sets for refueling, the horse took care of most of it, and people learned to ride across the class boundaries, not like those cumbustickles,, that only rich folk could use.

    Hear that fluttering sound? It's the pages of history, flipping by. Hang on a moment, because....

    There. Or rather, here. Now horses are for the well off, and largely (in the 'developed world') for recreation. And those comcbstickle things? They're every-bloody-where. With gas stations, and sealed fuel tanks, and processes for getting from A to B that even still-at-school teenagers can manage.

    So do I think the comments here are wrong? Nope, probably not. Do I think, with a few more of those fluttered pages in our ears, they may _become_ wrong? Hell, yes. And after enough pages have turned, maybe the combustickles will be recreational vehicles, running only on recreational tracks - and people get there and go home in EVs, with easy powering/ refueling/ infrastructure - and at the weekend drive to see Great Grand Mom, and hear her say how she never could abide these new-fangled elektricky things...

    It's alright. I'll stop now - I promise (blush) :-).

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: There are, I...

      Yes indeed. All those barriers that people put up, will be overcome because there's money in it.

      There might be breakthrough tech in the next few years. Somebody might develop a practical fuel cell or come up with a novel means of hydrogen production / harvest that makes the economics work.

      Or somebody else might come up with a new energy storage tech that will release the energy as electrical current that is both lightweight and of a greater density than gasoline/petrol.

      There's enough effort being applied to these, especially in Chine and there is plenty of incentive for the first breakthrough.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There are, I...

      I am not entirely sure they're barrier arguments as such, they're just the normal set of parameters and considerations that people have to review to see if EVs are for them, and I value those discussions.

      Personally, I can see EVs being of very good use in cities and short range around them, but my work also involves immediately acting on emergencies and there I am not yet convinced an EV will fit.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There are, I...

      Personally I like the sound of ICE's, and I don't think audio replication would be goodenough to stir the loins, and what about the vibration that ICE's generate?

      I wholeheartedly support the move to more sustainable and less polluting modes of transport, at least for mundane travelling. But the soul of motoring is more than that.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: There are, I...

        "Personally I like the sound of ICE's,"

        So do I, for short periods of fun. After several hours it's annoying.

        1. Orv

          Re: There are, I...

          I always wonder how motorcyclists arrive at their destinations without going deaf, personally.

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: There are, I...

            Ear Plugs

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