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Next Tech

7 September 2021

If you had $100K to invest in potentially game-changing technology, where would you put it?

There seem to be so many nascent or developing technologies being touted at the moment that someone in this position could be said to be spoilt for choice. The reality however, is that very few of these "promising technologies" will deliver on the claims made for them by those eager to secure your money.

I've seen quite a bit of this going on right here in New Zealand and it both saddens and inspires me.

Let's look at a couple of the Kiwi options that may end up vying for your investment dollar and see whether they're likely to be game-changers.

First-up it's the work being done by Shalini Divya, a researcher based in Wellington who claims to have come up with some groundbreaking battery technology.

This Stuff story gives the gist of what's being claimed and the work being done but I have to say that it's a story I've heard a hundred times or more from researchers working all over the planet.

Aluminium-based batteries are nothing new, they've been around for decades. Many researchers have claimed to be 90% of the way to perfecting the technology but that last 10% seems to be the stumbling block. This also appears to be the case with Ms Divya's attempts and she admits that at the current (no pun intended) stage of development, the battery is only good for a few charge/discharge cycles before it loses much of its capacity.

"I feel that's quite achievable", her comments to the issue of overcoming the problems being faced, is hardly confidence-inspiring. Many far better-funded corporations, universities and researchers have failed whilst pursuing the same path.

However, not to knock someone who really might be onto something, I hope she succeeds and we all end up driving EVs powered by aluminium batteries in the near future. However, I wouldn't be investing much of that $100K here.

Next off the rack is Dawn Aerospace.

I think I've written about this startup before, expressing my concerns that it really does seem to be a bunch of folk with grand ideas, quite a bit of cash and little evidence that they can deliver on their promises.

This news report does nothing to change my opinion and informs us that despite having been in business for several years, they have only just managed to get their jet-powered RC model aircraft to the astonishing height of 1036 metres above the ground.

Sadly for them, that is a long, long, long way short of "space", their ultimate goal.

Although I would never admit it, there are rumours that even *I* have flown an RC model aircraft to twice this altitude -- without the benefit of large sums of venture capital and indeed the world record for such feats with RC models is over 10,000 metres already.

Again, I certainly hope that Dawn aerospace succeed in their goals, I just don't see much to inspire confidence at this point. You can see far more capable jet-powered RC model aircraft at the Tokoroa Airfield on a Sunday afternoon.

So that's what Kiwis are doing... but what about other emergent technologies being developed elsewhere?

Here are some I'd keep an eye on: the use of silicon carbide for semiconductor fabrication, over-unity nuclear fusion reactors (only 10 years away apparently) and new ways of storing electrical energy for grid-use.

What have I missed -- there's bound to be plenty. Rush off to the forums now and tell me where you'd be throwing that $100K if you had it burning a hole in your investment account right now.

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