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Using recycled cathodes makes better lithium batteries, study finds | Ars Technica

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The problem of what to do with old batteries comes up in many discussions about the pros and cons of electric cars. Most people's first preference is to reuse them, repurposing the cells for a second life as stationary storage.

But at some point, even those batteries will reach their end of life, and recycling them makes sense, given concerns over sourcing raw materials for fresh batteries to take their place. It's even possible that using recycled materials might make a better battery, according to a study published in the journal Joule.

Recycling a complicated construction like a battery cell is a difficult task, but it's a potentially lucrative one, which means it's of interest to academia and industry. The study in Joule, led by Professor Yan Wang at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, looks at the performance of lithium-ion cells that have cathodes made from nickel, manganese, and cobalt recovered from other cells.

The recycling process

To begin with, spent lithium-ion batteries "of any type and state" are discharged before being cut up, shredded, and sieved. The cases, wires, plastics, and circuit boards are removed for recycling, leaving a black mass that contains graphite, the cathode materials, and some other metal residues. Next, different materials are removed from the mass via leaching and filtering, eventually leaving the nickel, manganese, and cobalt ions.

About 90 percent of these three elements are recovered, and once the relative amount of each has been determined, fresh nickel, manganese, and cobalt sulfates are added to reach the final desired ratio for whichever type of cell is being built. After a little more treatment and several hours of heating, the recycled cathode powder is ready to be used in a new battery cell.

Recycled outperforms new?

Wang and his colleagues tested the recycled cathode powder in a number of cell types: coin, single-layer pouch, 1 Ah, and 11 Ah. They compared the performance of the different types to similar cells made with "fresh" cathode powder.

Cells using recycled cathodes were then put through an array of tests, where they performed almost identically to cells using fresh cathode materials. There was only one notable exception: The cells using recycled cathode materials lasted up to 53 percent longer.

1 Ah cells were repeatedly charged (1C) and discharged (2C) to find out how many cycles they could withstand before beginning to degrade. The control cells degraded to 80 percent of their original capacity after 3,150 cycles and to 70 percent capacity after 7,600 cycles. At this point, they were done. Meanwhile, the recycled material cells could go through 4,200 cycles before they had degraded to only 80 percent state of charge. They reached an "astonishing" 11,600 cycles before 70 percent was the best they could do.

When the researchers looked at the recycled cathode powder using a scanning electron microscope, they discovered that the particles were quite similar, but the recycled particles had larger pores in their centers compared to control particles. Additionally, recycled powders were a bit less brittle. The more porous structure makes it easier for lithium ions to diffuse through, and because it's more flexible, it's more resistant to cracking after repeated charging and discharging.

Batteries using recycled cathode materials might start appearing soon. In early 2022, a startup Wang co-founded, called Battery Resources, will open its first plant to recycle cells in the US, with plans to add two more in Europe by the end of next year. The company says that by the end of 2022, it should be able to recycle 30,000 tonnes of batteries a year.

Joule, 2021. DOI: 10.1016/j.joule.2021.09.005 (About DOIs)

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Machu Picchu was built over major fault zones. Now, researchers think they know why | Science | AAAS

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Archaeologists and architects alike have long wondered why 15th century Incans built the grand citadel of Machu Picchu where they did, high in the remote Andes atop a narrow ridge in what is now Peru. One simple answer, researchers now suggest, is that that's where building materials for the site—large amounts of already fractured rock—were readily available.

Both satellite images and recent field work reveal that the ground beneath Machu Picchu is crisscrossed with fault zones of various sizes, some of which control the orientation of river valleys in the region by providing weak zones that are more easily eroded by flowing water. Because some of these faults run from northeast to southwest and others trend from northwest to southeast, they collectively create an X where they intersect beneath the site, researchers reported this week at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Phoenix.

When earthquakes along these fault zones cause rocks to shift, they generate prodigious quantities of fractured rock (large stones in foreground). But these fault zones also channel meltwater from ice and snow and rainwater, thus enabling residents to more effectively collect it. They also help drain it away during intense thunderstorms, preventing short-term damage and aiding long-term preservation of the site.

Further evidence that the site selection for Machu Picchu may not have been an accident: Similar analyses reveal other ancient Incan sites, including Ollantaytambo, Pisac, and Cusco were also built at the intersections of fault zones.

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1 public comment
11 minutes ago
Ley lines. The pyramids and all that. It’s pretty easy to spot the patterns of you stop believing the metric ton of shit that passes for geology and science these days.
Space City, USA

Unmasked NYPD Officers Remove Subway Rider After He Confronts Them - The New York Times

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1 hour ago
Pretty sure the NYPD rioted most of last summer to establish that they are in fact above the law
Washington, DC

my employee wasn't respectful enough after the company messed up her paycheck — Ask a Manager

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A reader writes:

I’m not comfortable with one of my new staff members and how overconfident she is. Her work is great and she needed very little training but she’s got very big britches.

“Jane” has only been with us for two months. Just today she asked for a meeting with me and our payroll manager. It turns out payroll made an error entering her direct deposit information that resulted in Jane not getting paid, not once but two times.

Our company requires potential candidates to complete sample assignments during the interview process and we pay them an hourly contractor rate. It turns out she didn’t get paid for her assignment period, or for the next full pay cycle. The payroll employee apologized directly to Jane in an email, because it was their error in entering her information and not following up/fixing it that resulted in Jane not getting paid. Jane was able to show emails back and forth where she checked in with the payroll employee and asked if it was fixed, which they confirmed it was. Today was payday and Jane didn’t get paid. She checked with the employee again and they acknowledged that they “thought” it was fixed. It’s upsetting for Jane, I understand, but I think she was out of line about the whole thing. People make mistakes.

Neither payroll nor I knew anything about it until today. We both apologized and assured her the issue would be handled. After that, she looked at me and the payroll manager and said, “I appreciate your apology, but I need you both to understand that this can’t happen again. This has put me under financial strain and I can’t continue to work for COMPANY if this isn’t corrected today.”

The payroll manager was heavily in agreement, but I was speechless that she’d speak to management like that.

Payroll handled the whole thing and cut her a check with the okay from HR. Jane had referenced that not being paid put her in financial hardship and unable to pay bills, so HR allowed the use of the employee hardship fund and gave her $500 in gift cards so she can get groceries and gas and catch up on bills. I’m just kind of floored that she’s getting gift cards after speaking to her superiors like that. I’m also uncomfortable because why is our company responsible for her fiscal irresponsibility? Her personal finances or debts are not the company’s responsibility. I just don’t think it’s the company’s responsibility to give her more than what she’s earned (the extra $500 from the employee emergency relief fund) to fix things for her if she overspent or didn’t prioritize her bills or save smartly. We also don’t know if she is actually experiencing a financial hardship or just claiming she was.

HR allowed her paid time to go to the bank today and deposit her check. I told our HR person that while it’s not okay Jane didn’t get paid, the way she approached it was uncalled for. HR told me, “She’s right, it can’t happen again and it shouldn’t have happened at all.”

I’m getting tired of the respect gap I’m seeing with younger staff. I think Jane would be better suited in a different department. I’m not comfortable having her on my team since it’s obvious she doesn’t understand she’s entry-level and not in charge. Should I wait a while before suggesting she transfer to a different department?

I’m going to say this bluntly: you are very, very wrong about this situation, both as a manager and as a human.

Your company didn’t pay Jane money they owed her in the timeframe in which they were legally obligated to pay it. They did this twice.

Your company messed up, and their mistake impacted someone’s income. That’s a very big deal.

The payroll department handled this exactly as they should: they apologized, cut her a check immediately, and helped repair the damage their mistake had caused. Jane shouldn’t have to suffer for their error, and their remedies were appropriate and warranted.

Your objection to this because the company shouldn’t be responsible for Jane’s finances is nonsensical. Your company is responsible for paying the wages they’ve agreed to pay in the timeline they’ve agreed to pay them in. They didn’t meet that obligation, and so they fixed it. That’s not about them being responsible for Jane’s debts; it’s about them being responsible for adhering to a legal wage agreement and treating an employee well after failing at a basic responsibility and causing that person hardship.

Suggesting that someone who needs the paycheck they earned to be delivered to them on time “didn’t prioritize her bills or save smartly” is wildly out of touch with the reality of many people’s finances in this country and how many people live paycheck to paycheck (particularly someone entry-level who just started a job two months ago and may have been unemployed before that). But frankly, even if Jane didn’t save smartly, it’s irrelevant; your company’s mistake is what caused the problem, and it’s what’s at issue here.

Your speculation that Jane might be lying about her financial situation is bizarre and reflects poorly on you. It’s irrelevant and you don’t seem to have any reason for wondering that other than an apparent desire to cast Jane in a bad light.

You’re absolutely right that there’s a respect gap in this situation — but it’s from you toward your employees, not from Jane toward her employer.

There’s nothing disrespectful about Jane advocating for herself and explaining that she’d be unable to stay in the job if the payroll mistakes weren’t corrected. She gets to make that choice for herself, it’s not an unreasonable one, and it’s not disrespectful for her to spell it out. In fact, I’d argue it’s actively respectful since respect requires clear, polite, direct communication and she gave you that.

When you say Jane doesn’t seem to understand she’s entry-level and not in charge … Jane is very much in charge of where she’s willing to work and what she will and won’t tolerate. Every employee is, regardless of how junior or senior they might be.

Corporate power structures require deference in things like decision-making on a project, but not the sort of obeisance in all things that you seem to be looking for.

Somewhere along the way, you picked up a very warped idea of what employees owe their employers, but you don’t seem to have thought much about what employers owe their employees. You urgently need to do some rethinking and recalibration if you’re going to continue managing people.

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7 hours ago
Good for Jane for sticking up for herself, she doesn’t owe management anything in the way of pleasantries considering they screwed up not once, but twice. And on her pay! Whoever wrote in should be canned for having a fragile ego- not a great trait for a manager but all too common.
Space City, USA
3 hours ago
Uh yeah, if I was not paid twice including the second time after being assured that the issue was fixed, I'd be pretty upset about it. I'd be especially upset and stressed out if it was cauing me to miss bill payments or be unable to eat or put gas in my car. This shouldn't be hard to understand.

NYPD Threatens Tipster for Filing 311 Complaints About Illegal Parking  – Streetsblog New York City

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Members of the NYPD harassed and threatened a cyclist after he reported the cops for illegally parking along several notoriously lawless stretches in Downtown Brooklyn, including on Schermerhorn Street right outside a transit police station house, according to the complainant — and now the matter is under investigation by the Civilian Complaint Review Board.

The tipster (who asked to remain anonymous for fear of even more retribution) says he started getting calls from members of New York’s Finest after he made dozens of complaints to 311 about officers from the 84th Precinct and Transit Bureau 30 stashing their private cars in the bike lane and on the sidewalk on Schermerhorn Street, and on nearby Smith, Jay, and Hoyt streets — an illegal practice that for years has gone unchecked, endangering cyclists along the vital corridors.

The tipster shared with Streetsblog a log of 49 of his 311 complaints he made via Reported for illegal parking on Schermerhorn, Jay, Hoyt, and Smith streets — all within the 84th Precinct and adjacent to TD30 — on three dates, including Aug. 13, Aug. 26, and Sept. 10. All 49 are marked as “closed,” though he says the situation was never actually resolved and the cars were never moved, or just came back again the next day.

And on each of those dates, the tipster says he received a retaliatory phone call. The first came on Aug. 13 at about 9:30 am, when the caller actually identified himself as a member of the NYPD, but refused to give his name. The second was on Aug. 26 at about 11 am when someone who identified themselves as Det. Sturman called the tipster a “dickhead.” And the third was a few weeks later on Sept.10 at about 2:45 pm when someone, who the tipster believes was a cop impersonating a 311 operator, told him he would be barred from filing more complaints.

All three calls were shared with Streetsblog.

“My name is Detective Sturman from the 84th Precinct. I’m calling to see if you want to come into the precinct to meet with our community affairs officers…to address your issues. We want to address all your concerns,” the detective said.

“I don’t need to come in, you can just address them by stop parking in the bike lane,” he responded.

The detective responded by saying she “can’t stop people everyday from parking in the bike lane.”

“That’s your job,” the tipster responded, before things escalated when he told her to “f*** off” and the detective said, “stop calling dickhead.”

In another call, the unidentified person claiming to be a 311 operator threatened to block the tipster from filing any more complaints.

“You’re speaking to a 311 operator. Why do you keep putting over the same 311 job over and over and over again? You might be barred from the system going forward,” the unidentified person said, using vernacular (“the same 311 job”) common among cops.

Brooklyn Council Member Steve Levin, who has long complained about personal police vehicles parked illegally with the help of a placard or NYPD logbook on the dash —  was appalled at the abuse of power and harassment of citizens who are just trying to watch the watchers.

“That’s crazy. That’s not legal. The whole situation has been really, really frustrating,” said Levin. “Police officers harassing is so illegal, so far beyond retaliatory. It’s a level of misconduct, nobody should be allowing that. Whatever they’re doing there is a total breach of their duty.”

A spokesperson for 311 said that 311 operators do not personally reach out to those who file complaints, and that complaints are shared directly with the local precinct.

A spokesperson for the NYPD told Streetsblog that they are investigating the incident, and are working with the local precinct to keep the bike lanes and sidewalks clear.

“We are aware of the allegation regarding the detective and the matter is under internal review,” said Detective Sophia Mason. “Parking in the vicinity of the 84th Precinct is extremely limited. The Commanding Officer is aware of complaints regarding bike lanes surrounding the precinct and is working to address the condition.”

And a spokesperson for the Civilian Complaint Review Board told Streetsblog that the case has been assigned to an investigator, who is looking at whether the alleged harassment constitutes “misconduct” that could require a disciplinary recommendation.

The tipster said he started reporting illegal cop parking to 311 after years of growing frustration because no one — including 84th Precinct CO Capt. Adeel Rana, Levin, and Mayor de Blasio — has been able to put an end to the street-level corruption, despite years of broken promises to keep the bike lanes and sidewalks clear.

“The police care more about free parking for their personal vehicles than our personal safety,” he said. “Adeel Rana has allowed a culture of corruption to develop…his officers feel empowered to refuse to identify themselves, and even impersonate other city employees to keep their sidewalk and bike lane parking spaces. The city has failed to provide adequate space for bike riders/pedestrians, and the NYPD’s dangerous parking exacerbates the problem.”

Levin said he held a meeting earlier this month on Schermerhorn Street with the Department of Transportation, the 84th Precinct, and TD30 — he said he invited Transportation Bureau Chief Kim Royster, but she didn’t show. But like all the times before it, there was no solution to fix the longstanding problem, though days later DOT put out a survey soliciting public opinion about the mess.

For now, before a full reconstruction of Schermerhorn Street can happen, Levin said he’s still in favor of giving cops more spots outside the station house if it would stop them from parking in the bike lane, but said that DOT is opposed to it, hypothesizing that more spots would not actually solve anything. He said DOT has no imminent plans for a full reconstruction of Schermerhorn Street.

It’s certainly not the first time that Streetsblog has documented egregious car-centric corruption within the police department. Prior stories include the horrendous driving records of officers, the illegal parking documented at station houses all over the city, and the systemic failure to understand basic traffic laws.

Advocates and local pols have indeed tried — and failed — to get cops to stop illegally storing their personal cars in bus lanes, crosswalks, on sidewalks, and in bike lanes, putting cyclists and pedestrians and danger. Last year, Levin and Council Speaker Corey Johnson introduced legislation that would allow anyone to report illegally parked cars, a new citizen enforcement program modeled after an existing city program to combat idling. A person reporting the illegally parked car would take home some cash if a ticket ended up being issued.

But the de Blasio administration has opposed the bill, fearing that some ticketed drivers would assault their neighbors for ratting them out for illegal parking. In this case, that fear apparently is justified: the NYPD is apparently threatening people for reporting their crimes.

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Dan Lyke:

New research on emissions strengthens case for a 20mph default urban speed limit

New research[1] from engineering consultants, Skyrad, models the impact of capping speeds at 20mph vs. 30mph. This “real life” modelling that takes account of the stop/start nature of urban traffic yields a very different result from traditional steady-state models. It shows significant and substantial reductions in emissions: CO2 lower by 26% and NOx 28% lower. With UK hosting COP26, campaigners are calling on governments to set 20mph or 30km/h limits as national urban/village defaults.

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10 days ago
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