First batch of Tanktwo patents published!

Timing, as they say, is everything. Here is the story of why the Tanktwo patents were applied for when they did.

When GM introduced the Volt, Nissan announced the Leaf, and early buyers of the Tesla Roadster were over the moon about their new four wheeler; it was obvious to me that the electrification of mobility was the next great discontinuity in technological development. Disruptions of this magnitude happen about once per decade, they spawn entirely new industries employing millions of people, create billions in new wealth, shape a generation and – in this case – might as well save a planet from boiling over. Arguably more than the Beatles and questionable fashion choices, it was the humble transistor that shaped the sixties. Next in line was the Integrated Circuit (“the chip”) to rock the seventies (pong, anyone?); after which IBM shaped the eighties with the first PC. The nineties brought us Nokia and the ubiquitous cellphone, and Y2K has entered the history (e-)books as the era of the internet.

With the benefit of hindsight, the twenty-tens will prove to be the period in which humanity realized that getting from A to B through the combustion of refined black goo – produced by composted algae of yesteryear – is actually rather convoluted and clumsy. Internal combustion engines and automotive power trains are both hopelessly complicated and inefficient, and reaching a miserable 50 percent thermal efficiency level will take half a century longer than it took taking humans to the moon. More so, pumping 36 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – which is relatively speaking about the thickness of a party balloon – could be frowned upon a lot more than peeing into the swimming pool; from the diving board. (-now try to forget you read that-)

So, I ordered a Chevy Volt in 2010 to judge for myself if the revolution was more than a technical maturity milestone; but also a matter of having a mature consumer product category having arrived in the showroom. When the car finally showed up in 2011, I had the pleasure of experiencing a rare case where the automotive industry was under-promising and over-delivering. Everyone who has ever owned an EV, will agree that there is no way going back. Better to drive, no noise, no maintenance, more economical – from version 1.0. Just as the venerable steam locomotive saw its days numbered the moment diesel and electric engines entered the arena, the gas powered car is now going into the sunset.

Predictably, there is no shortage of vocal and opinionated people who say that the muscular deafening roar of a V8 can never be replaced by the barely audible, and therefore wimpy, whir of an EV. Considering the place the car takes in the psyche of post-war male minds, this is not surprising, as no one likes to have part of his identity declared obsolete. But as this is just part of any disruptive process, we should not pay more attention to them as we do to people whose well-being depended on the choo-choo sounds of the steam engines that powered the industrial revolution; or those that are outraged by the Crown Vic soon disappearing from the streets of New York City.

Despite already being a better value proposition than gas cars for many common driving patterns, the current generation of electric cars, suffer from major shortcomings if the benchmark is 100% of the use cases of current vehicles: unacceptably long charging time, range anxiety and high battery cost. In Tanktwo, we have had conceptual solutions for these problems for a while already; but the availability of good quality consumer products, albeit with these three fundamental shortcomings made us decide that 2012 was the right time to commercialize them. We wrote up the basic principles of how you build the missing blocks that make the Electrical Vehicle in, say, 2018 a product that is 360-degree competitive against the gas-powered car. We filed a batch of patent applications, some of which will be published any day now.

We are happy that the time has come, because history is littered with examples of several people – unconnected to one another – having the light bulb moment at the same time. Electromagnetic induction, for example, the fundamental principle behind electric propulsion; was described practically simultaneously by Joseph Henry in the US, and Michael Faraday in the UK. Since the Tanktwo technology has such enormous potential, we had some concerns that not just two, but possibly a dozen teams would be working on the same problem and had come to the same conclusion. The incentives are enormous, and most of the players are flushed with resources. Elisha Gray and Graham Bell applied for a patent on the telephone on the same day, but it appears that we got a little lucky and timed things just right.

Please indulge yourself and read through the first Tanktwo patent filing, and let us know what you think about the system. You can find the patent from various places, such as Espacenet.

More patents will be released very soon.