15 August 2003
- * * UPDATE * * * A strident liberal considers the power outage.
Filed under: Energy
Yesterday I recovered a long-lost Hewlett-Packard HP11c calculator. Pressing the power button, it came on instantly and has run without a hiccup ever since. This product had been in a drawer for over 20 years. I have a cell phone that likes to be recharged every 4 hours and it’s becoming greedier about even that frequency.
Here’s news that we may one day recharge our batteries in a completely different manner. From the article is this excerpt: Minteer said the team is working on ways to increase their biofuel cell’s power density. Currently the team’s battery can produce 2 milliwatts of power per effective square centimeter. The average cell phone requires 500 milliwatts to operate.
Disruptive technology is often described as the unexpected breakthrough from an unexpected entrant into an otherwise mature field. One example that gets cited is that the light bulb was not invented by a candle maker seeking to improve his product.
In my lifetime, I foresee many revolutionary businesses which will grow from some form of disruptive technology. Two that immediately spring to mind are:
Take a look at how far fuel cell technology has come.
Supply or demand? The chicken or the egg?
It seems that something as simple as who’ll be first to take the risk underpins our reluctance to invest in the rapid development of fuel cell technology for vehicles and the hydrogen distribution system required to fuel those new vehicles.
In that report he mentions H2GEN. This company would like to be the one that puts a hydrogen-generator at every conventional gas station and convenience store across the country. Estimates for the cost of each installation range from $100,000 to $500,000.
Pick 100 major cities with stops along the way and a conservative threshold for coverage is probably a minimum of 10,000 locations. Using back-of-the-envelope math, that calls for an investment range of $1 billion to $5 billion to start the declaration of independence from foreign oil.
This country’s private telecom carriers raised and spent on the order of $50 to $150 billion to build out fiber optic networks that had far less compelling demand numbers. Assume the math above is off by a factor of 2x or 3x. It’s still viable to think of a $15 billion investment that paves the way for fuel cell vehicles and largely eliminates our purchases of oil around the globe.