113: Is Faster Charging Worth The Downsides?

Matt and Sean discuss how improvements to batteries also have a negative side.

Watch the Undecided with Matt Ferrell episode, “This Battery Breakthrough Lets EVs Charge in MINUTES”: https://youtu.be/48vPgAPtkJg?list=PLnTSM-ORSgi7UWp64ZlOKUPNXePMTdU4d

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Hey, everybody on today’s episode of still to be determined. We’re gonna talk about whether or not you want to be able to buy Taco Bell and eat it while you’re you’re waiting for your car to charge or whether faster is better as usual I’m Sean Ferrell I’m a writer I write some sci-fi I write some stuff for kids. And I’m just all around inquisitive about things regarding tech and luckily for me I have my own tech guru. Yes, it’s my brother Matthew Matt of course is the host of undecided with Matt Farrell and that’s the starting point of all of these videos Matt how you doing doing. Okay, it’s a rainy day here in New York City we are in the early days of April so according to a saying I seem to recall something something April shower is something something.
I’m doing Well how about you.
Ah, summer summer comes um so today we’re gonna be talking about Matt’s most recent episode that was entitled this battery breakthrough. Lets ev’s charge in minutes and the word minutes is all capitalized that lets you know.
Flowers. Yeah.
How important this is this episode dropped on March Twenty Ninth 2022 and there was a good number of different discussions going on in the comments. Sometimes your videos spawn a single chain of discussion which.
Churns through the whole comment thread and sometimes like this one people were approaching this from a lot of different angles. So I’m going to touch on a bunch of different things really quickly as we work our way through the discussion First there was a bit of of.
Yep, yeah.
People saying I get a whiff of snake oil from some of this. Yeah, there was some of this that was making people say this just seems and it it almost seemed like well it’s too good to be true right? So my question to you.
Oh please.
If you think so okay, yes yeah.
We’ve talked in other videos about the ability for people to promote things. Yeah a headline gets written in yeah, a science magazine that says this is going to change.
Everything forever we finally solved all the problems. Don’t worry about anything ever again rainbows for everybody and then twelve years later the same headline the same headline appears about the same thing and it hasn’t progressed at all. So.
Right? right? We never hear of it again. Yeah. Right.
Just from your perspective of trying to reassure I Yeah you you gave the company Spokesman um from which company was it battery streak battery streaks Spokesman you gave him a platform to talk about what his company is doing.
Battery streak. Yes.
I Know you you’re not the sort of person who’s going to be like oh you’re full of chicanery come on over here and talk to my audience about this, you’re not going to.. You’re not going to open the door to somebody who’s going to be us selling snake oil. So my question to you in what ways is this different from the headline. Everything is better rainbows for everybody. What makes you feel like okay this is something that we should talk about in a reasonable way to say like this is potentially on its way.
Because of the stage that this company is at I mean they’re they’re no longer on the bench lab scale oftentimes when you see those headlines. It’s always about you know, breakthrough. It’s this crazy thing charges in 3 minutes and yada yada yada and then you read the read into the details and it’s like. Oh it’ at a university or small lab and it was a bench lab scale demonstration and that’s it and there was not any kind of follow through on pilot scale testing of ramping up production to see. How difficult it is to actually manufacture testing it with partners to see how partners will actually use the technology and getting feedback from partners on how to adjust it. That’s typically where that snake oil salesman feel comes in battery streak is not at that stage. They’re in that middle area. They’re working. They’re starting to work with partners and 1 of their partners is the us government so they’re working with our military on technology. They’re working with other different. They’re starting to talk to other partners about testing out their technology so they’re at a very interesting phase does not mean that they’re gonna be a success and I have no horse in this race whether they succeed or not but they are definitely at a stage now where they have a provable technology that they are producing and handing off to partners so that to me is it’s no longer snake oil and the first time I talked to them on the call was Dan Alpern who’s who is the gentlemanlin that was on in the video but the first call was one of the lead material scientists that. I was able to talk to and gave me some very detailed explanations of things and was able to answer some of my questions so I got to talk to not just Dan who’s on marketing but I got to talk to one of the people who’s actually designing this battery so it’s it’s from every from my conversations and everything I’ve seen this is technology that is coming.
Right? right.
It’s not a if it’s going to happen. It is going to happen. Not necessarily battery streaks version of it but fast charging batteries store dot is another company that’s doing this. You know solid state batteries have been promised for years but they’re they’re going to get here eventually so this fast charging tech will arrive. It may not be her next year Years from now. But it’s it’s coming. So it’s like this is not snake oil. It is actually going to happen.
Right? There was also there was a comment that I spotted which pointed out that he referenced in his conversation. How Mckinsey had evaluated their their work plans and there was some pushback around mckinsey being involved because Mckinsey is. Somewhat notorious for working with pretty much anybody and there was the call out of saying like they’re not known for the most moral decision making around who they work with and my response that and I invite you to respond after I share my thoughts is you and I you know just. People on the street can say oh Mckinsey I don’t like Mckinsey I don’t like the fact that they work with authoritarian governments and they evaluate you know despot rulers control over you know the control of of the resources in their terrain and and so forth. But.
You and I are not the money people you and I are not the people who will take these technologies to the next level. The people who are going to take these technologies to the next level including government as you point out, they’re going to want to see Mackenzie’s involvement in this and I I know that for myself. Um.
I Wish we didn’t live in a world where sometimes people who bend moral and ethical decision making to suit their own to line their own pockets I Wish that didn’t happen.
But I also understand we do live in a world where that takes place and so a role that Mckinsey might have in evaluating this technology in my mind doesn’t give it the black eye that the that the commenters seem to imply that oh if Mckinsey is involved in looking at this then clearly. Ah, something nefarious or something immoral might be happening. What are you? What are your thoughts about that.
Yeah, no yeah I I’m in the same place. It’s I wish we weren’t in that which we didn’t live in the world that we kind of live in right now with things like that. But I would not be like using that as my only reason to discount this study that Mackenzie did for them. On their technology because countries and different companies are going to want to vet this and the mackenzie study is 1 piece of what they’ll will use to evaluate it as well as they’ll but do their own vetting. They’ll have their own third party analysis. That’s part of why I brought up like they’re at the stage now where they’re sending things to partners for partners to try this stuff out. Partners are going to be. Putting this to its paces and if it doesn’t live up to the promise they’re going to know so it’s it’s I don’t know I just I just kind of im inent place where it’s like it’s I wish Mackenzie wasn’t the one that they they used to cite this stuff but at the same time it is what it is.
Right? to go directly to some of the comments that I wanted to share. There were some comments along the lines of this one from Susan Patterson who wrote what is stopping me from going electric right now is the price a local dealer for instance once $12000 over suggested retail price for the electric hyundae on his lot and I’ve heard similar stories from around the country even without that markup All new cars are just far out of most people’s comfort zone at this point as the medium or maybe it was the average price of a new car electric or not was reported by consumer reports.
Be $46000 so in your video you’re talking about There’s an underlying concern among some car purchasers about how far they’ll be able to drive before having to recharge how long recharging takes but there’s also. This aspect to it my question to you is kind of a 2 part question. First do you see anything about the pricing of electric vehicles dropping as a result of new breakthroughs or changes. And second with the kind of movement to the new technology that you talked about in your most recent video would that help with the sticker price or would it potentially keep the sticker price where it is because it’s a new technology and they’re going to have to recoup investment in this new tech.
Yeah, all this new tech I don’t care what tech you’re talking about whether it’s battery streak store dot quantumcape with sala state batteries I don’t care what you’re talking about when you’re talking about something new tech. It’s always going to be crazy expensive to start because that’s just the way the stuff works once they perfect the. Process of manufacturing it and you end up with um higher. You know, successful cylinders and batteries that are made costs start to drop as you get to more commercial mass scale production. So it’s like any new technology is going to be small batches which means more expensive it’s going to take a while for that to trickle down and become affordable. So. As awesome as I think the battery streak tech is. It’s not going to help with the affordility of cars in the next three to 5 or even 10 years um that’s it’s going to be a a long tail and the the tech we’re seeing in evs today is what’s going to make the cheaper evs five years from now. It’s because it’s. Today’s battery technology is going to get cheaper and cheaper to produce. This newer technology is going to come in and be expensive to start. So. It’s just going to kind of all push each other down. So no, it’s not going to help with prices at least initially.
Right? There was this one from Geo Baqueur who wrote in my opinion. The main selling point for niobium batteries is the longer durability and it would be perfect for electronics and home storage. So you talked briefly about the potential for something like this to be in a phone to yeah, be something that could to change ah not just vehicles but other other battery using devices in our homes and my question to you is one of the things you pointed out.
Yeah, yeah.
In your video Niobium batteries and every time I say Niobium it sounds like a made up word from Star Trek like we’ve got to get there and yeah, we’ve got to go to the visit Niobium they’ve got. They’ve got what we need ah is.
Yes, or fake country from a Marvel tv show.
They’re a bigger future for use of this technology in things other than cars given the fact that you pointed out the charging stations that is currently available the charging stations that are currently available in the Us and and worldwide.
Are not designed with this new technology in mind. So it require yet again another change of infrastructure is it possible that this battery tech might actually be.
More readily available and find an easier way into market through things like phones and home tech where I imagine you would just purchase a device with a brand new charger and that new charger would be what would convert the electric voltage into what it needed to be to work with this new battery.
Yeah, based on the comments. There’s there’s an angle of this I wish I had touched on because even though the fast charging tech for evs isn’t like there completely like a lot is tech is like we can charge at five hundred Kilowatts well there’s no five hundred Kilowatt chargers so okay the thing to remember though at like specific for battery streak part of the fact because it keeps the temperature so low as it’s charging. It can have a more linear flatter charging curve than a typical battery when you charge your phone on a fast charger today or you fast charge on ev. If. It’s near zero percent it’s almost depleted. It’ll charge at its max capacity immediately and then over time they have to ramp that speed down to as it gets closer to 100% so at like 50% when you’re charging an ev it’s charging full capacity off that charger and then when it gets about forty fifty percent it starts to slow down. Then when it gets like 70% it slows down even more so the initial wow this thing is charging blazing fast is usually only at the very beginning of the charge cycle and they have to do that to manage the battery’s health longevity to keep the heat in check. There’s all these reasons why they do it for battery safety with the battery street technology. Because the heat is so low. You can have more of a you could have a flatter charging curve which means you’re charging it ah at a higher more consistent rate for longer. So even if you’re charging at the same exact wattage that you’re already doing it today. It’s going to be faster because you don’t have to you don’t have to curve that charging off. So.
Um, okay.
That alone will save us time even with the existing infrastructure for ebs even with the existing chargers you have today for your phones like it will speed up the charging just in general because you won’t have to have such an aggressive tailoff curve to that charging cycle in theory. So it’s like it’s one of those this is where.
The companies that they’re partnered with doing the testing are going to have to test this out see how it works and see what they can do to maintain that battery health and get a fast charging cycle. So there’s there’s a win-win even without it an updated charging infrastructure.
So instead of being able to park plug in your car go in and get your Taco Bell and eat it before your car is done charging. Maybe you need to get it to go that.
Yeah, well like you and you and I have gotten a couple of ev trips together recently when we stop like one of the things that like a tesla does as you’re getting to the charger you you program in I want to go to a tesla charger the last like 20 minutes before you get there the car actually starts to warm up the battery pack. Kind of primemate for fastest charging. So when you get to the tesla charger and you plug it in that battery is hot and primed and ready to go to take as fast of a charge almost immediately as it can just by making that change when tesla did that it shaved off several minutes off the overall overall charging time just by that one little tweak that they did um. Their new chargers their v 3 chargers can do two hundred and fifty Kilowatts so it’s like again it ramps down quickly from that as you’re charging but it shaves off a few more minutes so it’s like it’s one of those with a battery tech like this. It’s like you could shave off some more minutes because you don’t have to flatten off so it’s like it all starts to add up.
And where you and I stopped and we went in got a bite to eat and 25 minutes later we’re walking out through the car and the car could continue to go because it’s at 80 but we sit there for a few more minutes and let it top up a little bit more. It’s like we would probably go in get a bite to eat and by the time we’re out. It actually is done and we can just.
Like get in the car and go so it’s like it’s that that’s what we’re talking about here even without changing the infrastructure. It’s going to shave off five ten minutes or something like that of your charge time.
Okay, so this isn’t an issue where the infrastructure is actually going to hold back the interest in the tech.
No, especially with the um, the increased cycle life that’s going to be very appealing across it doesn’t matter what you’re talking about Ev’s ah Grid Scale Batteries home batteries I don’t I don’t care what you’re talking about the fact that you have twice as many charging cycles with. The same degradation and the degradation rate. It’s very linear so it’s like it’s It’s a very predictable pattern and a longer Lifespan. It’s like that that’s going to be very appealing in its own way too.
The final comment I wanted to talk about was this one and Marcello I’m going to apologize in advance if I mispronounce your name obviously being the native english speaker that I am I have a much easier time when a username is something like big burger face. It’s like I’m familiar with all those words. So big burger face doesn’t get mispronounced but Marcello Pinero who is from Brazil shared this and it’s a long comment but I think it’s all very important I wanted to share it in its entirety I’m brazilian and I don’t know how to feel about this. Just like lithium largest reserves are causing tensions in Bolivia Brazil is the largest reserve in niobium and the next ev industry target it’s an opportunity but also a liability. And seeing the current government legalize mining in indigenous lands makes me very sad. The state’s former public company responsible for mining was privatized decades ago. The profits were privatized and do not go to public good. Mining company also has been involved in many environmental disasters most recently a dam holding heavy metal waste broke and destroyed the city of Bermundino killing hundreds of people in the process while also contaminating the environment people people are still fighting to get compensation in the justice system now seeing this video I don’t know. What to call it hope despair. It’s weird. They say niobium is strategic to the country but I don’t see my life directly changing because of it. The niobium to bee oligarchs are trying to push the package of it being good for the economy because they might hold a monopoly. But knowing my country the most probable future is privatized greeds growing the environment and rainforests and the public paying the price they might possibly get the land of the indigenous peoples along the way it would be good if we were able to produce everything from universal materials like carbon sodium magnesium. Reliance on rare resources concentrated geographically will always lead to conflict internal and maybe even external. This is something your video doesn’t really touch on but you and I have talked about this in the past and you have had specific videos in which you’ve investigated things like. Mining in Africa around rare earth materials that are used like cobalt and that was brought up in your interview with this company in talking about. They’re working on something that could remove cobalt from the equation as ah as a means of avoiding.
And like cobalt. Yep.
Ah, problematic material This comment though points out and rightly so any reliance on rare materials concentrated in specific parts of the globe is going to lead to this kind of Monoppolization Environmental impact.
It is.
And conflict the impact on indigenous people is a real nightmare issue around the world. Um, and my question to you as Marcelo points out.
It would be good if there was a way to produce things from universal materials. Are you aware of any work being done in ways that would meet the need that this new tech seems to be meeting but they would avoid. Some of these issues like you mentioned Tesla’s silicone battery is that potentially something that would have less of this kind of downside because this is a very specific downside. It’s a huge one the environmental impact the impact on indigenous people. The impact on.
Entire economy of a country a country the size of Brazil becoming entirely dependent or massively dependent on an industry that is going to have this type of impact is a hard reality that we have to talk about but is there a way around that. In any of the things you’ve seen on the horizon.
Ah, this is a really tough topic I’ve been thinking about doing a video on supply chain for a long time and I’ve got ah I use a service called notion where I keep an idea board and I have this supply chain note for myself where I’m just collecting all this.
Um, yeah.
Research and information like stuff like this to talk about it because everything I’m seeing is there’s in 1 respect, we’re trading one problem for another. It’s like we need to get off a fossil fuels. So we’re switching to this other technology.
And it’s great, but there’s downsides to this new technology as well and I have seen nothing absolutely nothing that will solve this problem that you’re raising right? now. It’s we need. There are certain materials. We need. No matter what the technologies you’re talking about that require mining and there’s different areas in the world that those things are key. So if you’re talking lithium you’re talking like China if you’re talking niobium you’re talking Brazil if you’re talking. It’s like it’s no matter what you talk about this is going to be a problem so the best we can do in my take. And this is a really this is not going to be a well structured take but we need to stay on top of this. We need to talk about it and we have to be laser focused to make sure that countries like Brazil are not getting screwed over that the people in the land are not getting screwed over. This process I don’t have an answer to that I don’t I don’t know what the solution is.
There was some responses to marcellos comments along the lines of I wish there was something I could do about that and I think that I think there are things that people can do about it. 1 thing that you can do is you can reach out to your elected representatives.
Me too.
And and voice your concern about things like this so that on every level in every region around the world politicians who may not have a direct hand in this are aware of it as an issue to think about and talk about awareness is the first step There are also organizations which you can look for which work with. Ah, giving a voice to the indigenous people indigenous people as an advocacy group is a growing reality in the world as our internet connectivity has allowed them to virtually or in person be able to. Sit down and literally have discussions and giving voice to people in Brazil the indigenous peoples in Brazil giving them an opportunity to actually sit down and be heard by the people on the other side of the table who are not thinking in terms of how do we protect this environment. How do we protect the livelihood to. These people that’s another way that you can have an impact there there. It’s it’s a growing awareness and that’s the audience that’s listening to us anybody who raises that call in the form of even reaching out to your own local. Representatives and raising it as an issue you can you can shine a little bit more light on the on the topic.
Yeah, the cobalt issue is a good example of that that was activism bringing awareness to that issue of what was happening in the Congo and what was happening with how the mining was being done and how much damage it was doing to the people and now because of that. Companies are trying to get away from cobalt as fast as possible because it’s it’s a bad situation and they’re trying to alleviate that problem. But as you pointed out in the solution to that problem. We may be creating a problem somewhere else and so we have to keep that activism and that attention dialed up.
Right? And we need to apply pressure to the companies where we buy these products from and let them know through either letter writing campaigns social media. The power of the wallet making sure that.
To make sure that we’re not just trading one problem for another.
These companies understand you can’t remove the problem around cobalt and recreate the same problem somewhere else. You’ve got to learn those lessons from cobalt and apply those lessons to the other parts of the world. So listeners.
What is the point that you’re looking for in tech development like this is it price is it efficiency or is it something else like the kinds of environmental and cultural impacts that we’ve just been talking about. Let us know in the comments you can of course find the contact information in the podcast. Description or if you’re watching us on Youtube and you see our smiling faces. You can just scroll down below those smiling faces and leave a comment there. Don’t forget if you’d like to support the show you can review us on Apple. Google Spotify wherever you found this podcast. You know where you found the podcast stop making me say podcast. Just go back to where you found the podcast and review it subscribe. You can also go to still tbd dot. Fm. And there’s a button there that says become a supporter you can click that button and then you get to throw quarters at our heads and if you’re on Youtube of course you can click join on Youtube and become a member there. That’s another way to throw a quarter out her head all of that really does a help. Thank you so much to everybody for listening for watching for leaving your comments and we’ll see you in the next one.
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