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4. IonQube battery, Dr Ed Brown and Dr Jon Cloke

This ionQube lithium-ion battery illustrates the complexities of inter-disciplinary and inter-sectoral research projects.

Our nano-grids project involves detailed consultations with a range of stakeholders in the design of small-scale community energy systems for developing countries. Unfortunately for us, our UK-based NGO partners on a Kenyan project chose these innovative lithium-ion batteries for household systems. The batteries proved to be totally unsuitable and many failed completely. At the same time, the NGO partner went bankrupt. There has, however, been a silver lining: we redesigned the project with two Kenyan communities and we now have a great relationship with a local NGO. The project is more sustainable and our research and experiences are being used to develop low-carbon energy systems in Africa and Asia. The broken ionQube remains a symbol of the dangers of technological determinism.

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