Q: What do you get when you put together data, algorithms, a shop vac, and a tank of space eggs?
A: You can handle batteries like liquid fuel (gasoline) to enable electrification of transportation at commercial scale cost-competitively… which is the key to solving global warming and geopolitical crisis.
Let’s start from the space eggs — these string cells work perfectly independently, play nice with each other to make electrification at a commercial scale viable, and can be handled like liquid fuel so businesses don’t have to change their infrastructure or operational model to accommodate the use of electric fleets.
All good… but there’s one problem.
Bulk solid handling — which allows random packing so string cells can be treated as liquid fuel — works wonderfully for pumping things like animal feed because you don’t have to worry about damaging the objects in transit.
But it’s a whole ‘nother story when you’re moving expensive lithium batteries.
How can we bulk-handle String Cells safely with a self-contained mechanism that can be fitted into existing infrastructure designed to handle liquid fuel?
Enters that brand of popular potato chips (with a mustache) that comes in a cylindrical can.
You might have noticed that the chips are always in perfect shape and stacked perfectly in every single can. While most of us we take that for granted… have you ever wondered why they all got into the can so… perfectly?
Turns out, if you put those potato chips in a tube and introduce just the right amount of turbulence in a stream of air, they will float — like a plastic bag in the wind. They can then be moved around expediently while staying intact.
This is called pneumatic conveying, a rather nerdy term that refers to the use of a stream of whirly air to transport objects as they’re being suspended.
That’s actually how a vacuum cleaner sucks up dust.
We tried out the concept with a shop vac and we were able to make it work surprisingly well… but we learned some interesting things along the way. If we need to keep the proportion of the String Cells to the hose similar to that of the dust to a vacuum’s hose, we’d need a hose the size of an airplane to prevent clogging.
So I did what someone who knows Juha (Tanktwo’s lead engineer) would do…
Tell him it couldn’t be done and come back in half a year.
And from the mysterious black box emerged the perfect dimension and mechanism for moving the space eggs safely and efficiently with pneumatic conveying while keeping the equipment at a feasible size and reasonable cost.
Our space eggs are levitating!
But we’re not done yet. We also created a few “snitches” by adding an accelerometer to some of the cells. They can beam back data on how “aggressive” the system is treating them. We can then adjust the environment to prevent excessive wear and potential blockage.
Next, we saw an opportunity to sort and categorize the cells during the transfer process.
The chips in the String Cells can “self identify” based on various parameters (e.g., wear, quality, age, capacity, and cycles of usage) to determine the depreciation and residual value of the units. When they’re flying by at high speed, a jet of air will knock out those that need to be retired from circulation and the system will sort the rest into tiers for distribution to the right users at the right price.
For example, users that are less sensitive to performance density (e.g., in agriculture) can pay less for cells that may take up more space to deliver a given amount of power. Meanwhile, rather than declaring an entire high-performance battery pack obsolete, it can be restored simply by swapping out weaker cells.
Such modularity allows each user to optimize profits by fine-tuning all the parameters (e.g., performance, quality, etc.) in relation to price.
A fully-automated pneumatic conveying system is just one way of transferring the String Cells. The concept works just as well if the String Cells are moved manually in a bucket. And of course, anything in-between (i.e., combining automation with manual labor) to balance the upfront capital investment with the ongoing cost of manual labor to maximize profits.
In fact, you can dial in all the parameters (e.g., turnaround time, algorithmic sophistication, availability of data, ability to project demand or workflow) to optimize the use of available labor, capital, and resources in individual use cases.
While the high-tech version can eliminate reliance on costly labor (e.g., in Germany), the low-tech version can create jobs in developing countries where labor is abundant (e.g., India.) But there’s more than the immediate economic impact…
While the space eggs and giant vacuum are photogenic, the real hero is the software algorithm. Software scales free and its trickle-down value can lead to economic miracles.
Look no further than smartphones. They can be purchased for $20 and open up tremendous opportunities for people in developing countries. In fact, twice as many people have access to a smartphone than a toilet!
A string cell is essentially a smartphone without a screen — it’s an enabler. We can put any technology in there, program the cells to do anything, and deploy them in bulk. They can collect information or distribute any substance in a highly controlled and targeted manner based on data (e.g., weather, healthcare, propagation of diseases, education, agriculture, etc.)
Data is the great equalizer for our society. The ecosystem created by our software and hardware makes random packing of high-value assets possible. This reduces the cost of bulk handling so trickle-down technology can benefit cost-sensitive markets.
This takes us back to “why batteries?”
Access to power will be the greatest equalizer of the energy system and therefore, the geopolitical system.
The limitation of energy storage is preventing electrification from changing the world. Currently, we don’t have a commercially viable way to efficiently store and distribute excess capability. Unlike fossil fuel, electricity can’t be stored in liquid form and transported to when and where it’s needed — yet.
By turning electricity into a format that can be handled like liquid fuel, our system makes it possible to price and distribute electric power according to supply and demand on a global scale — allowing anyone access to electrified transportation at a fair price.
Today, the global demand for oil is causing geopolitical and economic instability. When electrification is made feasible on a large commercial scale, the need for oil in transportation will become obsolete — creating a ripple effect in geopolitical nature.
The official term of this technology is liquefaction — the process of making something liquid (or behave like one.)
In this case, the technology enables us to handle the String Cells, as a collective unit of power source, as if they were liquid fuel. This is the key to enabling the adaptation of electrification on a large commercial scale.
Liquefaction allows users to change the capacity of the battery pack to meet operational requirements without carrying around extra capacity (which equals extra weight.)
Off-board charging can be done with virtually no wait time so asset usage can be optimized. An electric vehicle using our system can be on the road for 23 hours 50 min a day — just stopping 4 times for cell swap, which takes 2-3 min each.
Liquefaction is one of the 7 patent families owned by Tanktwo, designed to position the company as the only global provider of a complex ecosystem bridging electrification, mobility, and data analytics. Here are some key areas covered by the Liquefaction patent family:
Liquefaction is a key concept and a linchpin technology in Tanktwo’s complex ecosystem that ties together technological advances in data management, wireless communications, internet, optimization algorithms, and more.
Our patented technologies position our partners, investors, and customers in the right place and at the right time to benefit from the convergence of influences in electrification, mobility, and data analytics with minimal risks.