Zinc fuel cells are already being tested in city buses; if many cities adopt them, they would function as nuclei from which a "zinc economy" could spread organically. I haven't tried to crunch numbers on the details, but I suspect that farm equipment might be able to use zinc-air FC's also; any farmer who has energy from wind or the like could regenerate his own zinc and cut petroleum out of the budget. That would turn farms into nuclei too.Or, as seems more likely, a transport authority or a few farms or other enterprises in an area might spin off such work into a separate service business. Metropolitan Metal Fuel would start out servicing just the city buses under contract, but might find it attractive to add fleets of delivery trucks and even private vehicles. Once you have Jake's Truck & Auto Service and Zinc out among the cornfields, it seems likely that Jake would welcome transient business. An economic environment poised for a cost-driven technological shift is not unlike a super-cooled liquid. The colder it gets (the greater the economic advantage from changing over), the more likely it is that a crystal will form (some users will jump). The new crystal has surfaces which allow more liquid to freeze on them (users nearby can take advantage of the investments made for the previous users). As the crystal grows (more users switch), the surface area available for new freezing increases (more users find their barriers to switching are lowered). This is a model with a recipe for action. If you are a researcher at an agricultural college, see if you can't get a grant to test zinc fuel cells as power for farm equipment. If you have a municipal transit service which operates buses, try to get Electric Fuel to run a test there. When the results are finally ready for prime time, buy them. Each step forward lowers the resistance for the next step. If you want the phase of the energy economy to change, do what you can to super-cool it. Related posts: Zinc: Miracle metal?
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