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RSID: <<2023-06-15T23:31Z MFSK-32 @ 9265000+1500>>

Welcome to program 309 of Shortwave Radiogram.

I'm Kim Andrew Elliott in Arlington, Virginia USA.

Here is the lineup for today's program, in MFSK modes as noted:

  1:45 MFSK32: Program preview (now)
  2:50 MFSK32: Nickel-based batteries can replace cobalt
  6:28 MFSK64: Railways could be conveyance for backup power
11:47 MFSK64: This week's images
27:53 MFSK32: Closing announcements


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Can new batteries eliminate need for cobalt mined by kids?

Posted by Lucas Van Wyk Joel
University of California Irvine
June 14, 2023

Scientists have developed a long-lasting battery made with

The discovery could reduce or even eliminate the use of cobalt in
the batteries that power electric cars and other products.

Cobalt is often mined using child labor.

"Nickel doesn't have child labor issues," says Huolin Xin,
professor of physics and astronomy at the University of
California, Irvine.

The method could usher in a new, less controversial generation of
lithium-ion batteries.

Until now, nickel wasn't a practical substitute because large
amounts of it were required to create lithium batteries, Xin
says. And the metal's cost keeps climbing.

To become an economically viable alternative to cobalt,
nickel-based batteries needed to use as little nickel as

"We're the first group to start going in a low-nickel direction,"
Xin says. "In a previous study by my group, we came up with a
novel solution to fully eliminate cobalt. But that formulation
still relied on a lot of nickel."

To solve that problem, Xin's team spent three years devising a
process called "complex concentrated doping" that enabled the
scientists to alter the key chemical formula in lithium-ion
batteries as easily as one might adjust seasonings in a recipe.

The doping process, Xin explains, eliminates the need for cobalt
in commercial components critical for lithium-ion battery
functioning and replaces it with nickel.

"Doping also increases the efficiency of nickel," says Xin, which
means EV batteries now require less nickel to work—something that
will help make the metal a more attractive alternative to
cobalt-based batteries.

Xin says he thinks the new nickel chemistry will quickly start
transforming the lithium-ion battery industry. Already, he says,
electric vehicle companies are planning to take his team's
published results and replicate them.

"EV makers are very excited about low-nickel batteries, and a lot
of EV companies want to validate this technique," Xin says. "They
want to do safety tests."

The study appears in the journal Nature Energy.


Shortwave Radiogram now changes to MFSK64 ...


RSID: <<2023-06-15T23:36Z MFSK-64 @ 9265000+1500>>

This is Shortwave Radiogram in MFSK64

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From TechXplore:

Railways could be a key 'utility player' for backup power, says
new study

by Christina Nunez
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
June 12. 2023

The U.S. electric grid faces simultaneous, evolving pressures.
Demand for power from the grid is increasing as people adopt
electric cars and building energy is transitioned from gas to
electricity. At the same time, climate change is driving more
extreme weather. Events like the 2020 heat wave that led to
rolling blackouts in California are relatively infrequent, but
they are happening more often—and utilities need to be ready for

New research points to a flexible, cost-effective option for
backup power when trouble strikes: batteries aboard trains. A
study from the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley
National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) finds that rail-based mobile
energy storage is a feasible way to ensure reliability during
exceptional events.

Previous research has shown that, in theory, rail-based energy
storage could play a role in meeting the country's daily
electricity needs. Berkeley Lab researchers wanted to take this
idea further to see whether rail-borne batteries could
cost-effectively provide backup power for extreme events—and
whether the scenario was feasible on the existing U.S. rail

"There's a lot of uncertainty around when extreme supply
shortfalls are going to happen, where they will happen, and how
extreme they may be," said Jill Moraski, a graduate student at
the University of California Berkeley, a researcher at Berkeley
Lab, and the paper's lead author. "We found that the U.S. rail
network has the capacity to bring energy where it's needed when
these events happen, and that it can cost less than building new

The paper, "Leveraging rail-based mobile energy storage to
increase grid reliability in the face of climate uncertainty,"
was published recently in the journal Nature Energy.

A ready resource in freight rail

The idea for the study came to Amol Phadke, a Berkeley Lab staff
scientist and co-author of the study, while he was watching a
long freight train trundle past at a railway crossing. He began
counting the cars and tallied over 100 on that single train.

"A thought then struck me—how many batteries could such a massive
train carry? If those were used for emergency backup power, how
significant would their contribution be?" Phadke writes in a
briefing on the study. "A quick, back-of-the-envelope calculation
revealed an astounding capacity, potentially sufficient to
provide power to every household in Berkeley for a few days."

To meet electricity demand and build capacity for backup power,
the U.S. is building long-distance transmission lines and
installing stationary banks of batteries.

"While both of these resources are necessary, we wanted to
explore additional, complementary technologies," said Natalie
Popovich, a Berkeley Lab research scientist and co-author of the
study. "We have trains that can carry a gigawatt-hour of battery
storage, but no one has thought in a cohesive way about how we
can couple this resource with the electric grid."

The U.S. rail network is the largest in the world, covering
nearly 140,000 miles (220,000 kilometers). The study looked at
historical freight rail flows, costs, and scheduling constraints
to see whether railroads could be summoned to transport batteries
for high-impact events, given that grid operators typically have
at least a few days' notice, and sometimes up to a week, when
extreme weather is coming.

The analysis found that mobile energy storage could travel
between major power markets along existing rail lines within a
week without disrupting freight schedules.

What about stationary options?

The researchers compared the cost of deploying batteries on rail
for low-frequency events with the investment costs of stationary
energy storage and transmission lines. In cases where the trains
need to cover distances of about 250 miles (400 kilometers) or
shorter—roughly equivalent to a trip from L.A. to Las
Vegas—rail-based energy storage could make more sense cost-wise
than building stationary battery banks to fill supply gaps that
happen during less than 1% of the year's total hours.

At those shorter distances, transmission lines remain
cost-effective compared to batteries on rail if they are used
frequently. When the travel distance grows to more than 930 miles
(1,500 kilometers)—say, a trip from Phoenix to Austin—rail
becomes cheaper than transmission lines for low-frequency events.
This third option could save the power sector upwards of 60% of
the total cost of a new transmission line or 30% of the total
cost of stationary battery storage, the study concludes.

The study points to New York State, with its robust freight
capacity and current transmission constraints between upstate
clean energy generation and downstate load centers, as an example
of where rail-based mobile energy storage could work well. In
other cases, it may make sense for multiple states to share the
additional capacity from a rail-based battery bank.

"This is not necessarily a resource that needs to be in one
region," Moraski said. "It can operate similar to an insurance
policy, where you spread the coverage across risks for a wide
geographic region."

A train of thought worth following

Regulatory and infrastructure hurdles exist, the authors note.
The U.S. lacks adequate interconnections to take power off the
train and essentially plug it into the grid. And current
electricity markets have no framework for approving, pricing, and
regulating a mobile energy asset the way they do for conventional
power plants. Policies would need to be revised, and efforts to
deploy the storage would need to capitalize on existing
interconnections where possible, such as retiring coal plants,
which have existing rail lines and interconnection rights.

The researchers see further opportunities to quantify the
benefits of rail-based mobile energy storage beyond the scope of
the current study, taking into account larger territories, a
decarbonized grid, and future climate conditions. They emphasize
that extending energy storage across the rail network is not a
replacement for important infrastructure such as transmission
lines, but could be an important complement.

"Our paper gives a top-level overview of how rail-based mobile
energy storage could benefit today's grid, in today's climate,"
Moraski said. "As we look toward a future with more
electrification, more fluctuating renewable energy, and more
frequent extreme events, the case for adding rail-based energy
storage to the mix may become even stronger."

This is Shortwave Radiogram in MFSK64

Please send your reception report to





This week's images ...

A BMX stunt rider at Bathgate Open Day, Scotland. ...

Sending Pic:147x202C;

Sunset over Alisa Craig, Scotland.
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Sunrise over Rock Creek Park in Washington DC, June 14. ...



A water lily in Kenilwoth Aquatic Gardens in Washington DC. ...

Sending Pic:197x150C;

Canoe at sunset on the Potomac River near Dickerson, Maryland,
June 9. ...

Sending Pic:162x200C;

The lighthouse in Holland, Michigan known as "Big Red," June 13. ...

Sending Pic:201x130C;

RAF Hercules aircraft, retiring after 60 years of service,
conducted a flypast around the UK on June 14. ...

Sending Pic:197x127C;

Bee and flowers at the Northeastern University Arboretum in
Boston. ...

Sending Pic:202x155C;

June is National Rose Month. Here is a rose at Hershey Gardens in
Hershey, Pennsylvania. ...

Sending Pic:195x154C;

Our painting of the week is "Heroic Roses" ("Heroische Rosen")
(1938) by Paul Klee. ...

Sending Pic:156x203C;

Shortwave Radiogram returns to MFSK32 ...


RSID: <<2023-06-15T23:57Z MFSK-32 @ 9265000+1500>>



This is Shortwave Radiogram in MFSK32 ...


Shortwave Radiogram is transmitted by:

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Please send reception reports to

And visit

Twitter: @SWRadiogram or

I'm Kim Elliott. Please join us for the next Shortwave


     SWRG#309 closing song:

     George Winston - Fragant Fields





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