#62 Meet the company refusing to accept when a lithium ion battery is ‘dead’

Aceleron co-founders Amrit Chandan and Carlton Cummins

Aceleron co-founders Amrit Chandan and Carlton Cummins

Lithium-ion batteries continue to be the technology of choice for all the major consumer gadget players, including Apple, Samsung and Lenovo – and it is absolutely no wonder that the market is set to explode in the next few years thanks to the inevitable continued growth in consumer electronics, as well as electric cars and home energy systems.

The global lithium-ion battery market is set to jump from almost $30 billion in 2015 to more than $77 billion by 2024.

But what happens to these lithium-ion batteries when they reach the end of their life?

This time, we caught up with Amrit Chandan (below right), co-founder of Aceleron – a business that hopes to revolutionise the way people use and think about low-cost energy storage.

It is a business dreamt up by Amrit and his partner and co-founder Carlton Cummins during their lunch breaks working for a management consultancy. As you’re about to find out, this is a company with a technology that can efficiently test which lithium-ion batteries are good and still have some life, perhaps for use in another application, and which ones are not so good. And it takes the good ones and packages them in a way that is safe, cost effective and useful again.

Amrit and Carlton are on the mission: to find a solid replacement for the traditional 12-volt lead acid battery, something that could truly revolutionise the way people use batteries, particularly in the developing world where 25% of deaths are attributed to industrial gases, including lead poisoning, from lead batteries being burned, according to World Health Organisation statistics.

Enjoy the conversation.


For more on Aceleron (with just the one 'c'), visit the website.  And you can follow Amrit and Carlton on Twitter too.

You can read one of Amrit's articles here.

 

Episode #53 - Ridding the world of dirty kerosene, one slum at a time

Show notes

Globally, there are more than 1.3 billion people that do not have access to electricity – 300 million of those people are in India, a country so often talked about as being in the midst of rapid economic development. Yet, 25% of people there still cannot get on to the electricity grid.

As a result, kerosene fuel still dominates, particularly across slum communities. A breakthrough discovery when it was invented by Canadian physician and geologist, Abraham Pineo Gesner, Kerosene was cheaper and cleaner burning than its existing counterparts and far easier to source. That was in 1846, almost 170 years ago.

Today kerosene has been rightly displaced by modern energy services, which provide far superior heating and lighting. However, hundreds of millions of people across India still rely on kerosene as their primary source of light.

Burning kerosene for light, particularly in the poorly ventilated confines of a tent home, contributes to indoor air pollution. This pollution causes respiratory illness, which is the second largest cause of premature death in women and young children in Indian slums.

When kerosene is burnt, it releases particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and various nitrogen oxides – seriously bad news for our health and wellbeing.

It is not just the fuel source, but also the quality of light which is important to a person’s well-being. Quality of light greatly effects the type of activities that can be performed with the available light.

A typical kerosene lamp delivers between 1 and 6 lux of light (lux is measured as 1 lumen per meter square). In contrast, typical western standards suggest a minimum of 300 lux for tasks such as reading.

To make matters worse, the flickering quality of a kerosene lamp affects the ability to read by such light, and over time, blacking of the outside of the lamp’s plastic container further reduces the effective light output.

With hundreds of millions of people across the globe relying on kerosene as a fuel source, many millions of tonnes of carbon are emitted into the atmosphere every year. As with any combustable fuel, the efficiency with which they are burnt largely dictates their emissions intensity. The typical kerosene lamp found in a community is inefficient, which means that for every litre of kerosene burnt, around 2.5 kilograms of carbon dioxide is produced.

Kerosene is also somewhat unique in that a relatively large percentage of emissions, around 7 to 9%, is in the form of black carbon. Green house gases (GHGs) are often described in terms of their forcing effect, which relates to their ability to trap heat when suspended in our atmosphere. The higher the forcing, the more potent the GHG. Black carbon has a significantly higher forcing than regular carbon, and it is estimated that 1kg of black carbon in the atmosphere for a month contributes as much warming as 700kg of CO2 in the atmosphere for 100 years.

So, what can be done to turn the tide on the use of kerosene and dirty cookstoves in slums across the world. Our guest this week believes she has at least part of the answer.

Pollinate Energy’s mission is simple – to improve the lives of India’s urban poor by giving them access to life-changing affordable products. With a focus on sustainable solutions, such as solar lights, water filters and improved cookstoves, people are able to reduce indoor smoke, have better quality light, use less fuel and save money.

Of course, it is no walk in the park, as co-founder and CEO of the organisation Alexie Seller tells me.

Episode #49 - End of year review: Why Trump might be good for the planet, not bad

Show notes

These past 12 months have seen very strong progress by the business community in making the transition to being more resilient, robust, sustainable and responsible citizens. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that, since I started writing about the business of sustainability 12 years ago, 2016 – even with all its Trump- and Brexit-shaped obstacles thrown in the way – has been one of the most exciting and uplifting of years working in this field.

This week, we are joined by five of our previous guests who give us their personal highlights from the past 12 months, an assessment of the most significant moments from 2016 (not least the shock victory of The Donald) and their hopes for the year to come.

Plus, I give you my top 9 highlights from 2016.

Thanks to everybody for listening to the show this year and being a part of such a fantastic community of better business makers. Happy Christmas and here's top an excellent 2017 one and all.

Enjoy the show.

Episode #46 - The car we'll all be driving one day

Show notes

Of course, the large majority of our cars, lorries, buses and taxis are reliant on the combustion engine which of course burns fossil fuels, which of course contributes significantly to our green house gas emissions and local air pollution problems.

In London, some 9,500 people die from long-term exposure to air pollution every year and tackling toxic air is widely regarded as one of the biggest health emergencies facing our capital city – and many like it around the world.

And that is purely because people are having to breathe in toxic fumes coming from our transport.

Riversimple founder, Hugo Spowers

Riversimple founder, Hugo Spowers

Yes, you can charge people to enter city centres – and the new Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is keen to introduce a new 'T-charge' of £10 a day for the worst-polluting vehicles, including older cars and diesel vans.

But is that any better than putting lipstick on a pig?

The game needs changing. And as my guest on this week’s show says: Sometimes you need to rip things up and start again.

Hugo Spowers (above right) is the owner of Riversimple, a new car manufacturer, who has spent the last 16 years developing not only a product designed to rid the planet of polluting vehicles, but also a business model he hopes will incentivise and smooth the transition that is required if we’re going to get people out of their dirty, 20th century cars and into vehicles fit for the here and now.

Enjoy the show.

Oh, and if you want to know more – or put your name down to be one of the first to take the plunge in leasing a Rasa – head over to riversimple.com.