Used Electric Vehicles batteries could be used for rickshaws in Bangladesh

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
  • Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries made for Electric Vehicles (EVs) only use around 70% of their life, the remaining 30% can be used for the second life
  • One second-life application being explored by researchers at WMG, University of Warwick, is for motorized rickshaws (easy-bikes) in Bangladesh
  • The current batteries used for easy-bikes only last 6-12 months and have a high carbon footprint, therefore using used Li-ion batteries could lower their carbon footprint
Used EV batteries could be used to power rickshaws in Bangladesh, as researchers from WMG, University of Warwick, seeking to find out how they can be repurposed for the rickshaws and lower peoples’ carbon footprint.

Motorised rickshaws, also known as easy-bikes, have gained popularity in Bangladesh due to their cost-effectiveness with one million of them all over the country.

However, the easy-bike currently uses a lead-acid battery for power, which has a lifetime of 6-12 months and therefore increases the operating cost as well as the carbon footprint.

In order to reduce the carbon footprint, researchers at WMG are exploring the possibility of repurposing used EV Li-ion batteries thanks to a £25,000 grant from Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), an award from the UKRI aimed to deliver scalable solutions to issues faced by low and middle-income countries.

Currently, Li-ion batteries retire from EVs after reaching 70-80% of their state of health (SoH). At 70% SoH, the lithium-ion battery still have 3 times higher energy density than a new lead-acid battery, and potentially can have a lifetime of 3-5 years in easy-bike application.

The researchers hope to repurpose the batteries to improve the energy storage life from 6-12 months to 3-5 years, which in turn will reduce the number of batteries being recycled and improve the ecosystem.

The new application of Li-ion batteries will be better environmentally without an additional cost in transport. As easy-bike replaces manual driving, the quality of life will improve significantly and bring a socio-economic change to a large community in Bangladesh. Furthermore, this development could reduce the consumption of grid-connected electricity which could be used to develop industries and infrastructure.

In fact, there are currently one million rickshaw pullers in Bangladesh who earn $4.8 billion every year. The new development in easy-bikes will directly improve their economic status. A few million people involved in vehicle support such as mechanics and manufacturing industries will also be benefited.

This project eventually could lead to mass production of second-life Li-ion batteries in Bangladesh, in conjunction with UK automobile industries, which will create job opportunities for thousands of people.

Dr Mohammad Al-Amin from WMG, University of Warwick comments: “To prevent climate change, all cars in the future will need to be electric. However, the batteries in EVs once they have reached their end of life, for car purposes, is something that can be explored more, as there is still energy left in them to be used.”

“If we can re-purpose them to be used for easy-bikes in Bangladesh it will help lower their carbon footprint and provide the country with a new economy. Thousands of jobs opportunities could be created both in Bangladesh and the UK.”

OK, so much for the press release that has been relayed above.

I must say that I am very much unconvinced about the statement as to the lead-acid batteries lasting only such a short time considering that golf buggies and the Toro electric vehicles (and others) used on golf courses and such, as well as the electric milk floats in the UK, are in daily use and recharged daily and their batteries seem to last for years.

Lithium-ion batteries have a large environmental footprint not least caused by mining operations and then the inherent dangers of being prone to explode when charging and such like and, should they catch fire, are almost impossible to extinguish. In more than one case of an accident with a Tesla vehicle where the car caught fire (and this is mostly the case) the fire spread so rapidly that it was impossible to rescue the occupant(s). The vehicles then have to be cooled down in a special container or the flames doused for at least three days, and even afterwards there remains the danger that the battery can self-ignite again.

There have also been a number of fires recorded that have been started by exploding e-Bike batteries well after those batteries had been removed from their chargers. Several of those started in cycle shops where the batteries that had been charged has been brand-new ones.

On top of that comes the safe disposal of those batteries at the end of their lives which, apparently, is also a small environmental nightmare.

From where I am standing the good old lead-acid battery still has a lot going for it, at least in the above rickshaw department and, as said, I do not buy the short lifespan of them. The general lifespan of the Li-on battery also appears to be no more than three to four years, if lucky, however well one deals with the maintenance cycles when charging.

© 2020

There is more to creating a woodland than just planting trees

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Many people, and, apparently, even most governments, seem to think that all that is needed to create a woodland is to stick some trees in the ground and the rest will do itself. Alas, that is a fallacy.

Just planting trees and leaving them for Mother Nature to do its work is a waste of trees, money, time and effort and will lead to nothing but disaster. Mother Nature, unfortunately, is not the best gardener and forester, and especially when the woodland is not caused by natural regeneration but has been man-made.

Left to its own devices, and Mother Nature's care, brambles and other such will soon smother the newly planted trees and that will be it. Unfortunately many do not realize this and believe, as said above, that all that is needed to establish new woodlands is to plant some trees and leave them be. They also do not want to listen to those who have worked the woods for generations often.

Newly planted trees to create a woodland are planted relatively close together in order for them to raise each other up, so to speak. But that only works if man helps them along as well by keeping any weeds and such at bay so that the young trees do not get smothered. That also must be done in newly coppiced areas and natural regeneration if one wants the woods to live and thrive. Protection from browsing deer and other animals may also be required.

Then, after a while, thinning will be required, which means first those trees are cut that are weak, sick, of bad growth and stature, overbearing thus suppressing others, and such like. This brings in space and light allowing the other trees to better develop.

While our woodlands are to have amenity value and be a valuable habitat for wildlife, as well as, in today's thinking “carbon sinks”, they are also created, or should be so, as a source for homegrown timber from which to make all manner of things from wood.

There was a time when woods, old and new ones, were much better managed than they are today with trees even being “pruned” in order to grow more or less knot-free trunks and this was the “by hook and by crook” method of brashing, often done by youngsters, children even, and also and especially those that had the estovers' rights to firewood from those means.

We also used to grow our own trees, either by natural regeneration and protecting them, or in our own nurseries on the farms, estates, what have you, where the trees were grown from seed and only planted in the area from whence the seeds were taken because many trees behave like hefted sheep in that they like the area of their parents and do not, necessarily, thrive when planted elsewhere. Unlike today where we gather the seeds here, as in the case of the ash, which apparently brought ash dieback to our shores, send the seeds to countries such as Belgium and Denmark, have the nurseries there grow the seeds into trees and then import them. That to me is about the same as importing tulips to Amsterdam. Apparently it is cheaper to do it this way than to have our own forest tree nurseries and cost is, it would seem, all that counts nowadays, but I digressed, as I often do.

Depending on whether the woodland created is intended to be worked by coppicing, coppice with standards, or as standards, depends on whether there will be more thinning cycles.

If the woodland is to be worked in coppice rotation then there will be no further thinning cycles required as the cutting will be done, a parcel at a time, from the time of or even before the second thinning. In the second case, the coppice with standards there will also be no further thinning while in the last case there will be at least two more thinnings before the trees are able to grow without further “interference”.

The timber resulting from all thinnings should be, in one way or the other, depending on trunk thickness and structure, turned into forest produce and products, even if only firewood.

But until we get to the fist thinning even there is lots of work to be done in the new woods, such as keeping vegetation at bay from encroaching upon and smothering the young trees and even whips of a couple of years old need that kind of care and this work goes on for month after month, and year after year until the first thinning. After that the trees will, more or less, be big enough to continue, more or less, on their own.

This is all work, I am afraid, that Mother Nature is not going to do for us and lots of work it is.
So, if you just want to stick some whips in the ground and then forget about them in the hope that it will be a nice woodland in some ten, twenty or so years, forget about even setting out on that path. All you will end up with is an overgrown tangle of wilderness that is no good to beast or man, and wasted effort, time and money.

© 2020

Everyone talks about climate, too few about pollution and general environmental destruction

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

All we are hearing is CO2 and other greenhouse gases, and occasionally the issue with plastic, especially the kind that is plastic bottles of all sorts. The word carbon is being manipulated to include soot, for instance, which is now called “brown carbon” and all that in order to be able to trade all those issues under the carbon trading schemes, what I would refer to as modern day indulgences.

The Hippies of the late 60s and early 70s of the last century were ever so right when they simply talked and warmed about pollution of air, water, soil, etc. and about the general environmental degradation and destruction. In their days though we still had mostly glass bottles for everything and in most places there was a deposit attached to those bottles the refund of which made up the pocket money for many a child back then.

We scoured the highways and byways, pulling a small handcart, and taking bottle after bottle out of the ditches that those too lazy to dispose off properly had thrown to take back to the shops for the refund money. The lazy people were about already then when there actually was a small incentive to bring the bottles back. We kids benefited from this and the environment benefited from us taking the bottles back to the shops.

But today, when we are not talking about plastic pollution, everything is carbon this and carbon that. Soot, the stuff that is covering the glaciers in the Himalayas and causing them to melt (and probably also in places such as Switzerland and elsewhere) is now referred to as “brown carbon”. It is soot and this soot comes from oil and coal fired power plants. Exhaust fumes from combustion engines are now referred to as “carbon emissions”, etc., ad infinitum. It has all become “carbon this” and “carbon that” and for but one reason, aside from confusing everyone, and that is that carbon can be traded in the modern day indulgences scheme called carbon trading.

Let's get back down to earth and call a spade a spade and deal with pollution of air, water, soil and everything else in between. In fact, had we done that when the warning messages came from the Hippies we would have a much better Planet by now than we have and had we not done away with practices of the native peoples, such as back burning to prevent bush fires, we would have a lot less of them. But hey, that releases carbon into the atmosphere and for other reasons the Greenies put a stop to that. Now those bush and wild fires, whether in the USA, Siberia, Australia or other places release a far greater amount of “carbon” into the atmosphere on an annual level than any of the back burning would have ever done.

Modern man thinks himself so superior – that includes so many of the experts – in comparison to tribal people who have practiced certain things for particular reasons. We think that we have much greater knowledge and understanding and that our technology will safe us. Yes, we have seen to where that has lead us, aside from smartphone zombies, I mean.

The same attitude has been taken as to our woodlands and their management, especially in some parts of Europe, such as Britain, where coppicing was the standard management practice for broadleaf woodlands. But the self-appointed apostles and experts claimed that cutting trees was bad for the environment and the practice of cutting parcels of woodland in rotation had to be stopped. Another reason for the decline of coppicing, it is true, was also that the bottom fell out market for wood products from such operations, but the main culprit was the pressure from the misguided. Now some of the once thriving coppice woods are so severely overstood that they are in danger of collapsing, which will be the end of the coppice stools, some of which can be a thousand year or more in age.

I could go on and on citing examples be this in forest management, or agriculture, or so many others, but we would be here for the next month or so. Suffice to say that the belief of certain people that they knew so much better about all the things than the people who had sustainably managed woods and countryside for centuries and more and our belief that technology could save us, so to speak, is the reason that we are were we are today. Sixty wasted years.
© 2020