Giving Brains to Batteries
Here's an interesting experiment:
Next time one of the remote controls in your house stops working, replace all the batteries in its battery bay and mark the date.
A year or so down the line, when it stops working again, before replacing both of the batteries again, try testing a new battery in combination with one of the old ones and see if the remote magically comes back to life.
Chances are close to 100% that it will, demonstrating a long-known but no less infuriating truth about batteries today: they have wildly varying life spans.
I first noticed this phenomenon as a kid and didn't give it too much thought.
I wasn't alone, either. In the 1980s, companies like Duracell started pasting "charge meters" onto their batteries' outer casings so you could manually test the life expectancy of each unit.
Why bother? Because they knew, as did almost all consumers, that batteries lived unpredictable, nonstandard lives. Even those unpackaged and put into use side by side would kick the bucket on their own schedules — with life spans varying by weeks.
It wasn't until recently that I learned why.
You see, the battery is a largely organic product. Yes, two units from the same line will be constructed of the same materials, to the same exacting specifications, and will deliver a similar voltage, but there are so many variables that determine their longevity and functionality that predicting this is nearly impossible.
Inevitably, the quality and nature of the materials will vary (based on the way they're mined, refined, and processed) on a molecular level.
So while they're similar on the surface, the internal variations will compound into noticeable differences in performance.
For the companies, increasing quality standards to the point where battery cell life becomes completely uniform is simply not worth the cost.
People have been dealing with longer and shorter unit life expectancies for decades and nobody has raised much of a stink yet, so why bother investing billions when the products are already sufficient?
Well, in Norway, that question finally has an answer.
For Sale By Owner: Lightly Used, Garage-Kept Tesla Model S
With one of the biggest secondhand electrical vehicle markets in the world, Norwegians have a very good reason to demand more from their batteries than most other people.
The same problems that plague the disposable AAs that you put into your TV remotes also plague giant rechargeable batteries — like the kind that make your Tesla Model S go.
Except instead of one cell per battery, a Tesla S will have a battery array containing over 7,000 of these individual cells, each of them living and dying according to its own unpredictable internal schedule.
This may go unnoticed for new EV buyers, but for those buying their cars secondhand, the problems of depleting charge retention and rapidly dropping driving range are very real issues that dramatically affect the resale value of a vehicle.
It should come as no surprise then that it was a Norwegian scientist who finally figured out a way to rein in these issues.
Setting much stricter manufacturing standards was one solution, but as mentioned earlier, shouldering the costs of redesign and retooling with only a marginal expected improvement was not the way to go.
To improve the life span and efficiency of the big, complex battery arrays that powered electric vehicles, there had to be a way to manage the performance degradation on a case-by-case basis... and that's exactly what this engineer did.
Electronic Brains to the Rescue
He came up with a way to constantly monitor the performance characteristics of each cell and then, using artificial intelligence algorithms, individually manage the way voltage was distributed to each of these cells during charging, and the way it was depleted during usage.
Weaker cells were treated one way, stronger cells another way.
The algorithms governing how voltage was distributed and how it was expended had to be tested and "trained" over the course of months, even years of experimentation, but in the end, the result was a battery that was up to 10% more efficient and longer lasting than its predecessors.
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This charge management system also cut down on things like catastrophic failures, making the famous lithium battery meltdown issue largely a thing of the past.
It didn't take long for a technology this disruptive to catch the eye of the industry, and soon enough, it was acquired.
The company that bought it, however, wasn't an automotive giant like GM, Ford, or Tesla itself. It wasn't a consumer/commercial tech giant like GE or even a tech-crazed monster like Google.
Instead, this company was a tiny, young tech firm that in the last few years perfected a similar power-management system for electrical motors.
Disrupting a Trillion-Dollar Market
Its advancements in making electrical motors more efficient, more powerful, and more reliable were heralded as the first major evolution of the device since its very advent.
However, with the addition of this battery technology, this tiny company, based in British Columbia, now has a complete system on its hands: a power source and an engine.
The combination has singlehandedly made every other battery/motor system in existence today obsolete.
And if companies like Tesla, Mercedes, Chevy, or anybody else in the business of building large, expensive, battery-powered machines wants to keep up, they will have to enter into licensing deals with this tiny company to make it happen.
A major builder of a wide spectrum of major commercial products ranging from wind turbines to high-speed trains has already done so, and more are expected to come on board in the coming months.
Like I said, the company that's making these world-changing advancements is tiny, but it's already public, and its stock is already trading.
To get the full story, click here.
Just remember, this industry secret won't stay a secret for long. This time next year, it may be trading at 1,000% of its current market cap or more.
Don't miss your chance to get a jump on the opportunity before it becomes the next major tech trend.
Fortune favors the bold,
Coming to us from an already impressive career as an independent trader and private investor, Alex's specialty is in the often misunderstood but highly profitable development-stage microcap sector. Focusing on young, aggressive, innovative biotech and technology firms from the U.S. and Canada, Alex has built a track record most Wall Street hedge funders would envy. Alex contributes his thoughts and insights regularly to Wealth Daily. To learn more about Alex, click here.
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