Megatrend unravelling?

Jon Barrett Electronics Sourcing
Jon Barrett, Managing Editor, Electronics Sourcing

The process of taking a new electronic product to market can be split into two distinct halves: pre and post design. The former is the domain of the research, design and development teams. The latter rests with purchasing, manufacturing and supply chain. In many application environments, a project’s time spent in design might be measured in weeks and months. However, move to manufacturing/ supply chain and the project’s time horizon becomes years and decades.

Thus, as the editor of a supply chain magazine, I must be interested in mega trends given how far they stretch into the future. One mega trend gaining momentum is the ‘electrification of everything’. Everywhere
I look I see internal combustion engines being replaced by electric motors, from aircraft and trains to lawnmowers and power tools.

However, engineers are governed by things like the laws of physics and the periodic table. Let’s see what they are up against by comparing some energy densities measured in Wh/kg: gasoline 12,889; diesel 12,667; LNG 14,889 and hydrogen 39,405. All these traditional fuels sit in close range. Then we look at some extremes: uranium 22,394,000,000 and lithium-ion battery 300. Please let me know if I have got any of these figures wrong.

So, in the one sector that all eyes are on, automotive, there is a danger that EV momentum will be lost as we move from early adopters to general consumers, only to discover current energy densities are insufficient.

I propose the following: a fleet of nuclear microreactors across the country generating hydrogen at the point of need. How about that for a megatrend?