Recharge Wrap-up: Tesla "Bioweapon Defense Mode" scrutinized, potassium-ion battery

Santorum Tours Iowa Biodiesel Plant

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum toured a biodiesel production facility during a trip to Farley, Iowa. At Western Dubuque Biodiesel, General Manager Tom Brooks talked to Santorum about the issues, like the Renewable Fuel Standard, that affect his business. Santorum showed concern over the importation of foreign oil, saying, "You have this really interesting dynamic where you have an administration that says that they are for preserving the environment and preserving the Amazon, yet if you look at their policies with respect to biodiesel, it's incentivizing production in places that are really, environmentally, really suspect. You're making it harder for our domestic manufacturers and producers to be competitive." Read more from the Telegraph Herald.

Researchers at Oregon State University have demonstrated a potassium-ion battery. It works as a more sustainable alternative to lithium-ion batteries, as lithium is rare, expensive, and difficult to recycle. "The cost-related problems with lithium are sufficient that you won't really gain much with economies of scale. With most products, as you make more of them, the cost goes down. With lithium the reverse may be true in the near future. So we have to find alternatives." While potassium-ion batteries don't have the energy density of lithium-ion, potassium's relative abundance and future improvements in the technology could help to make it competitive. Read more at Green Car Congress.

Bioweapons experts aren't completely sold on the effectiveness of the "Bioweapon Defense Mode" of the Tesla Model X. The special climate control setting recycles the air in the cabin and creates positive pressure, and the vehicle is equipped with a HEPA filter. While that could protect the occupants from bacteria and other microbes, many viruses can permeate the HEPA filter. Additionally, to be effective, one would have to be aware of a biological threat and activate the system. Many bioweapons would not be detected until people began to show symptoms, which could be days or weeks too late. Still, the cleaner air has benefits, particularly for people with allergies. Read more at Gizmodo.

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