In New York and other large cities in the late 1880’s, horses had become a real problem: they were less than ideally adapted for an urban environment. So when internal combustion engines came along, they were seen as more or less miraculous: no more dung piles, no more urine puddles, no more diseases courtesy of the horses.
And no more decaying horses in the street - many owners would let them rot for a while so that they were easier to clean up.
Fast forward to now and cars are, if anything, a worse problem. Tesla and other companies have pushed electric automobiles forward dramatically but they all have one major bottleneck to mass adoption: batteries.
It takes a long time to charge current batteries, they don’t work well in cold weather and lithium ion batteries simply don’t last long, nor are they safe as they tend to start fires.
Look at how much of our economy is powered by - and limited by - battery life.
In the movie The Graduate, Mr. McGire tells Benjamin that “I want to say one word to you. Just one word: Plastics.”
Today he might say batteries. And while there are many emerging technologies, one may have a better chance than others: nuclear diamond batteries.
The basic idea is that diamonds are manufactured in a way that allows it to safely have nuclear waste encased inside (think more like film rather than traditional diamonds).
And that potentially solves at least two problems - the issues we have with batteries, both for safety and lifetime (these may last up to 28,000 years) and of course safely storing nuclear waste. They would also be vastly lighter than lithium ion batteries, which require a lot of safety features and which are still very risky. Shave significant weight off of batteries and suddenly cars are cheaper and planes, trains and submarines are possibilities too.
The marketplace will determine what technology emerges, but these batteries may get to to the market in 2024, which would put them at a huge advantage. And whoever cracks batteries will be the Fords or Rockefellers of the 21st century.