Had a chance, and interesting, coincidence today in my podcast playlist. Pocket Casts has my favourite podcasts set to auto-download and add themselves to ‘Play next’. Two episodes were ready to play when I left for the morning commute.
The power of graphite; in pencils
First up a new season of The Boring Talks* kicked off with ‘Pencils’: Brian Mackenwells on why we should all appreciate the pencil.
Part of it (~0:05:00 onwards) told how a limited source of pure graphite (needed for pencils) in the 16-18th century made the British Cumberland graphite deposit a strategic asset. From its discovery in 1595 more or less every pencil in the world came from there.
In 1794, with France cut off from British imports due to war, Nicolas-Jacques Conté invented the clay/graphite ‘lead’ process (still used to make pencils today) to reduce that dependency.
The graphite of power; in Battery Electric Vehicles
Next up ‘The Fully Charged Show Podcast’ episode ‘Can batteries really be ethical, recyclable & sustainable - FC LIVE USA 2020’ included discussion on the sustainability of sourcing raw materials for batteries (from ~0:25:00 onwards).
One of the concerns raised was limited sources, currently all in Asia, and zero security of supply for a material used for batteries… graphite!
Thought it amazing how the technological importance of an element - centuries apart - and how it could be a strategic asset for totally different reasons, arrived in my podcast playlist at the same time.
* Don’t be fooled, they may be on niche topics but are certainly not boring!