« Productized conversion | Main | where do 'big ideas' come from »

May 02, 2007


Rick Bullotta

The hydrogen question is an interesting one - the gas separation process is a very, very energy intensive one. Without a "long tail pipe" that ends up with nuclear, high efficiency solar, or other sources of .

I heard an interesting speaker yesterday who proposed (a while ago) a really off-the-wall idea, which was to create floating, autonomous biofuel factories in the oceans that raised modified kelp as the source.

"In theory", the CO2 consumed in the growing process could mitigate or equalize that generated from burning the biofuel. Energy to power the factory could be a combo of solar and wave motion.

Any way, the vehicle aspects are only part of the equation of solving this problem...


A couple of colleagues and I had a conversation regarding electric only vehicles and the recharging time hurdle that could keep it from becoming a viable option for long distance traveling. Perhaps standards could be created to allow people to pull up to a "gas" station and quickly swap out drained batteries for fully charged ones. We compared it to the way propane tank refills work. Once you are out of propane, you turn in your empty tank, pay some money, and take a new one....quick, efficient, and hassle free.


P.S. Can we replace "Stuttgart" with "Walldorf" to read between the lines? :)

Benjamin Bakhshi

Shai, here is a question: Do you think 'big ideas' in the world manifest because of large corporations, or because of smaller entrepreneurial businesses?

Shai Agassi


From my experience in large corporate environment the big ideas usually start along one of three paths:
- Emergence of market demand (usually manifested through one of your smaller competitors proving that the market wants a new product) - see Prius
- Bottom up innovation - a few engineers (usually a handful at most) come up with a breakthrough idea, and build it in their after hours. If they have enough momentum to survive, the idea gets viewed by corporate leaders who are either strong enough to approve it or strong enough to protect it until approval.
- A disruptive technolog that meets a strong visionary leader who knows how to apply the technology to solve an age old problem the company struggled with in the past. Once the problem is re-addressed and solved the big question the corporation needs to solve is how to scale production and go-to-market - which is where the large corporation can beat the small up and comers, even if they have a time advantage over corporate.

finally, if you allow me to cheat, one of the main path through which innovation happens in large corporate is through acquisitions - either of ready products or of 'big idea' people...scaling from there is pretty easy for corporate - all you need is to integrate well and let the start up thrive inside while slightly reducing chaos over time.


Why to ignore the motorcycles?
Here a model that can work with battery or with fuel cell:


Expensive but high-performance, surely attractive for a part of market.


In answer to [Iacocca] I think that's way off. Where are you going to get all that hydrogen? How are you going to store it in the car? How are you going to distribute it? That's a long-term problem.
I had a discussion at a customer's site, where the customer was working on a new house somewhere outside the city every week-end. We were att the independence from energy sources for his house (he was getting some of the water warmed up by the Sun). Electricity could also come from Sun it is now cheaper with the development of lower quality solar cells. The surplus of electricity could be used to convert water into Hydrogen and Oxygen, which would be stored and could later be used in a Hydrogen compatible car (BMW7). For a car only used in a city might be enough.


Ioan's comment about the home refueling station is an idea that's getting some traction. It goes well with Vaitheeswaran's idea in his book "Power to the People" about home power generation. Once we can generate electricity cleanly and safely at home, it either will reduce our consumption from the grid, or completely reverse the process.
This is a good reason why governments need to own or regulate the power grid. A for-profit company will do whatever it can to not have to pay mini-power producers for their energy. {tangent over}
Back to the point of Autos -- I absolutely love the fact that Toyota comes out with a Prius, and a handful of individuals say "that's not good enough" and convert their own cars to PHEVs to be able to drive the first 50 miles solely on electricity -- the consumer will always be a big factor in driving market change, and the comments from the Auto CEOs above does really give me hope for the future.
Shai, good talk at Stanford the other day, cheers!


I’d be interested in an updated GoogleAnalytics chart (may be two with about six weeks coverage), just to see if the effect did wear off after a while and also, did others link to your new name with the same link-text (allinurl:…). I hope you will publish a follow up.

reut rabi

Shai hellow,

I am an environmental consultant working for TA municipality in this feild.
we have some questions regarding the electrical cars program, and how it can be combined in our program.
I would be gratfull if someone from your teem can be in contact with us.
Reut Rabi
ESHL Environment and Acoustics
[email protected]


thanks Good for you

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