MM: Elon Musk's 'Boring' Company, And Recycling Glass For Better Batteries

In this episode, we examine Elon Musk's tunnel digging "The Boring Company", and how recycled glass is being used to build better batteries.

Elon Musk’s Not-So-Boring Boring Company

Tesla and SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk is nothing if not forward-thinking. So, it’s really not surprising that he has yet another big project percolating on the backburner (you know, in between planning expeditions to Mars and whatnot).
Musk’s latest idea apparently came from Musk’s frustration with LA rush-hour traffic to which he tweeted, “Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging...”
Well, it turns out he was serious. Over the weekend at a TED talk in Vancouver, Musk played a short video that demonstrated how he hopes his next venture called “The Boring Company” will help cities dig underground and avoid traffic gridlocks.
As you’ll see from the brief animated short, cars will be pulled onto platforms called “skates” that will then be lowered underground in a multi-level system where the car will be conveyed to its destination at speeds of up to 124 mph.
Musk clarified that this is a long-term project mostly staffed currently by interns and part-timers. Still though, it’s apparently making good process.

What do you think of Musk’s not-so-boring Boring Company? Can you imagine this project ever coming to fruition?
Leave your comments in the section below.

Turning Glass Into Better Batteries

Just in case you needed another reason to recycle those glass bottles, a team of researchers have discovered a way to use recycled glass to build a better battery.

Lithium-ion batteries — which currently power smartphones, electric cars and everything in-between — are made with a lithium cathode and graphite anode. But, we’ve basically reached the efficiency ceiling with that set up which prompted researchers at the University of California Riverside to look toward silicon from recycled glass as an alternative anode.

Researchers used a three-step process to create the silicon nanoparticles that involves grinding the glass into a powder, grinding the powder with magnesium, heating it up in a low-cost chemical reaction, and coating the mixture with carbon.

In tests, researchers learned the coin cell batteries made from glass bottles outperformed traditional batteries. In fact, the new batteries can store almost four times as much energy as conventional batteries. And, just one glass bottle can provide enough nanosilicon to make hundreds of coin cell batteries.

Do you think using recycled glass to improve batteries is feasible? How do you think higher-performing lithium-ion batteries could improve industrial operations? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Tune in every Tuesday and Thursday for your next Manufacturing Minute.