The Path to Earth’s Energy Future Runs Through New Orleans

Every single automobile manufacturer in the world is moving toward EV’s – electric vehicles. Some car companies have stopped developing internal combustion engines altogether. Others have set target dates for when they expect to be switched over to delivering only EV’s. What this means is, eventually every car and truck on the road is going to run on batteries.

Currently, the most common battery is Lithium-ion. However, like the fossil fuel it’s on the way to replacing, Lithium has to be excavated from the earth. That sets up the obvious issue of supply, which is further complicated by the geo-politics of where exactly on Earth Lithium exists. An alternative to Lithium is a Sodium-ion battery. Sodium is readily available everywhere and transitioning will be a relatively painless evolution. Companies that currently make Lithium batteries will easily be able to switch over to making Sodium batteries. But, even if we do switch to sodium, how exactly do we charge all these millions of batteries up? Right now, to fully charge your car battery takes between 30 minutes and a couple of hours. And, unfortunately, there is no other material or element on Earth to make batteries with that would make charging faster.

And that’s why Dr. Michael Naguib invented it. It’s a material he calls Mxene – which is pronounced “maxine.”

Dr. Michael Naguib, Tulane scientist whose discoveries are literally changing the world

Dr. Michael Naguib, Tulane University scientist whose discoveries are changing the world

Mxenes are taking the science world by storm. Scientists around the world are working on developing Mxene technology. Why? Because when a Mxene is employed in the manufacture of a sodium battery, the battery can be fully charged in a matter of minutes.

The significance of this discovery is impossible to overstate. The coming revolution that Mxenes are ushering in is extraordinary. What is equally extraordinary is, Dr. Michael Naguib, the person who discovered Mxenes, is a professor of science and engineering at Tulane University in New Orleans.

Okay, so that’s your battery powered vehicle. What about your house? The good news there is, you don’t have to wait for a revolution. You can get your house off the electric grid. Today. With solar panels. The main obstacle to actually doing that is cost. Most of us can’t afford to get solar panels installed on our home. That’s where Tom Neyhart comes in.

Tom Neyhart, his company PosiGen is making solar power affordable for literally everyone

Tom Neyhart, his company PosiGen is making solar power affordable for everyone

Tom is founder and CEO of a company called PosiGen. PosiGen focuses specifically on bringing solar power to low and moderate-income families, and communities of color. The company is headquartered in New Orleans, but only about 20% of their business is in Louisiana. Their main markets are Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. They’re also in Florida, Philadelphia, and Mississippi. These are places, unlike Louisiana apparently, where there are government-driven incentives to switch to solar.

Peter Ricchiuti, Tom Neyhart, Michael Naguib, literally a power lunch at NOLA Brewing to Lunc

Peter Ricchiuti, Tom Neyhart, Michael Naguib, literally a power lunch at NOLA Brewing

Whatever your reasons for listening to Out to Lunch, it’s unlikely that you’re turning to this show expecting it to reveal planet Earth’s path to the future of energy. Nor would you, in all likelihood, suspect that the path to a fossil-fuel-free, battery-powered-planet runs through Uptown New Orleans.  But, thanks to Michael Naguib’s groundbreaking work from his perch at Tulane University, that’s where we are.

And Tom Neyhart’s dedication to democratizing solar power, while it might not be in quite the same Nobel Prize type stratosphere, is no less vitally important to millions of people who benefit from it.

It’s no exaggeration to say this edition of Out to Lunch is a uniquely eye opening and educational conversation over pizza. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. Photos by Jill Lafleur.

And there’s more lunch table conversation about “Sun Water and Dirt” here.

Realtor Tracey Moore