141: More Small Ideas – Nanotechnology at Work

Matt and Sean discuss nanotechnology advancements driving battery breakthroughs from companies like EnergyX. Their metal organic frameworks are revolutionizing lithium mining, and potentially lithium batteries as well. 

Watch the Undecided with Matt Ferrell episode, “This is Game Changing Tech for Batteries – Lithium Mining Explained”: https://youtu.be/xWpLFUUDTiM?list=PLnTSM-ORSgi5LVxHfWfQE6-Y_HnK-sgXS

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Hey everybody. On today’s episode of Still To Be Determined, we’re gonna be talking about how nanotech is making batteries better, or should I say betterer because nanotech with batteries is something that’s been in the offing already for a while, and it just feels like this most recent video from Matt’s channel is basically saying, Well, maybe it’s almost here.

We’ll find out more as we talk about that as usual. I’m Sean Ferrell. I write, I’m a writer of some sci-fi. I’m a writer of stuff for kids, and I’m also curious about technology. Luckily for me, my brother’s Matt, I’ve undecided with Matt Ferrell, and of course, that’s what brings you here in the first place.

You wouldn’t be listening to my voice if you hadn’t already listened to his. Matt, how you doing? I’m doing pretty

well. Pretty good weekend so far.

How about you? I’m doing okay. We’ve had some fall weather as we head directly toward Halloween and, uh, starting to feel like the, the air’s a little crisper than it had been.

Of course, with weather changes and everything like that, crisp is a relative thing, so having to go out with her coming sweatshirt as opposed to, um, t-shirt is where we are right now. Before we get into today’s discussion, I wanted to share some thoughts about our most recent episode. This was the discussion on supersonic flight, and there was a lot of back and forth, no pun intended, around the supersonic flight questions.

Mainly, is it reasonable, is it realistic? And even if it is reasonable and realistic, how much would people want to be a part? There were comments like this, like this one from Steve Kri who wrote, Sean, you hit the nail on the head with your comment about making the flight experience better rather than faster.

My husband and I flew Boston to Los Angeles business class on a 7 87 for the first time in January. A post pandemic splurge for us, and the whole experience is a different world than flying economy. I wish the airlines would focus more on all passenger comfort and convenience rather than breaking up economy class into different sub segments.

Basic economy, economy, premium economy, comfort plus. It’s ridiculous. And yes, I’m right there with you, Steve. This is. A growing framing of the travel experience where now you get economy, but if you go to economy plus you can actually bring luggage. So , you know, shaving off more and more and seeing exactly how close they can get the seats together before customers say, I can’t feel my feet anymore, doesn’t seem like the best way to.

There was also this, there’s a lawn chair strapped at the back of the plane. , right? Yeah. Here’s a rope. Good luck. I also enjoyed this comment regarding Sonic Booms or Sonic Thumps, as some of the aviators have been promoting this one from Old Gamer noob old Gamer noob I love the the handle. Uh, But old gamer had this to share.

I had the experience in St. Louis at an air show where a B one bomber introduced itself into the show. Flying right over the crowd under the St. Louis Arch with its wings swept back. Since it goes faster than its own sound, no one saw or heard it coming, so the whole crowd instinctively ducked and screamed at the sudden blast of noise, lower decibel level, and a thump instead of a boom.

Sound nicer, but I’m not sure how to avoid the surprise factor as I recounted to Matt. My experience in San Francisco of standing on a busy sidewalk doubling over and screaming at the sound of a sonic boom, we, we

should probably call this the pucker factor. It is.

What’s the pucker factor of this plane?

Yes. And it could be on a scale similar to the seismic or decibel scale, so it could be exponential. Yes. The pucker factor of two Yes. Is 10 times as great as the pucker factor of one. So Sean, I just

wanna inject one comment. It’s an email I got a couple days. I’m not gonna give his full name cause I don’t know if he wants me to say his full name, but he’s, his name is Tony.

He sent me an email about, on my YouTube channel. I’m getting, a lot of viewers are probably noticing this, a lot of scam accounts that are pretending to be me. That comment to my comments and they say things like, Call me on WhatsApp, and it’s got like a WhatsApp number. You’ve just won a prize. It’s all that kind of stuff.

It’s a huge problem across YouTube. All creators are experiencing this. I sometimes get five to 600 of these comments on every video. Mm-hmm. , and I try to delete them and take them down as fast as possible. I’ve been putting filters into the comment controls to try. Preemptively get them before they come out, but it’s just a game of whack-a-mole and YouTube is really dropping the ball on fixing this.

It’s fricking Google. It’s like, Come on, you got, put a couple engineers on this. Come up with some algorithms can stay on top of this, and they can’t. They’re being beaten by these scam bots. Well, somebody emailed me saying they actually did try to contact one of these people. They thought it was real.

They contacted them, and here’s why I’m bringing this. Uh, they used you , Sean, as, as their like, second factor authentic authentication. They said it was getting, they were told they want a power wall, but they had to pay something like a thousand dollars for the shipping. Okay. Why do I have to pay for shipping if you’re giving me this $8,000 power wall?

Something’s not right here. So he said, he asked him, Here’s what he wrote. It’s funny, I had a feeling this was a scam. So I asked them, What is the name of your brother’s book that he published in 2016? And who is the publisher? Their answers were both wrong.

I’m amazed by that because that information is so easy to find. If you just go to Google and you look up like Sean Ferrell 2016 novel, you’re gonna find that information. So that’s, yeah, first of all, Tony Hat tip to you for like putting together a little quiz for them to be able to, to break through that.

But like I’m with, I’m with Matt. This is a huge problem. I did not know that it was happening on our videos or Matt’s videos directly, but Oh, yeah, what I would, I’ve seen it. I’m, I’m a, I’m a, Matt and I are both gamers, big fans of, of games like Destiny. I follow a lot of YouTubers who cover Destiny, and I recently saw a couple of them in conversation talking about, how often this happens on their videos and that what they end up with are, like, they, they were doing a public service announcement basically saying, We will never contact you via comments.

We will never contact you via a secondary account that isn’t our primary account. We will never respond on a video as a second account, and we will never direct you to a third party app to contact us. And I think that that’s, it’s, it’s really, really, uh, deplorable how, how often this is happening. And I agree with you.

This lands completely in YouTube and Google’s laps to. How are you not able to police this better when if 500 comments like this are ending up on a video? , there’s not an individual doing that. There’s a, it’s a, it’s, there’s a computer program in the background that is just running and doing this, and on a different video of ours, I went back to look at some comments, and I did find a conversation in the comments that was about 30 comments deep.

And it was clearly about crypto. It was all about crypto, and it was all, yep, clearly robots episode, the robots episode. And I episode, I just deleted the entire thread from the comments. I hid the entire thing. It was because it was 30 comments deep. It was our top comment. So it pushed it right to the top because it was the most active comment thread.

And it was just like, yeah, they start off with the great video. Let me talk to you about crypto and off. Yeah, I did something about

investing and this person helped me. Who was it? Go talk to this person. Yeah, same. They do the same routine every single time. And I just wanna make it clear to everybody, the same kind of like public announcement.

I never will do giveaways in that method. Yeah. If I ever do a give to giveaway, it’s gonna be directly from me, from my email, from my website. I will never direct you to WhatsApp. I will never do anything like that. I would even, I

would Hey, seem to add. Yeah, I’d be willing to bet. If you were to doing a giveaway, you might actually mention it in the video.

Yes. I mentioned in video, I don’t do like ghost giveaways. That doesn’t

happen. And guess what users I’m giving away. I’m giving away power walls, but it’s a secret.


exactly. Yeah. Thank you for bringing that up, Matt. It’s important. Yep. , I also enjoyed this comment for Rich Build who simply made a suggestion to you, Matt, there are hybrid airliners in testing Now.

Do a show about them, so yes, Yes. Hybrid airliners, of course, being subtly different from. Planes in the fact that they are slower, but provide more of a sense of comfort. Think blimps, and Matt and I have talked about them multiple times, including developments in the hybrid model, but maybe it’s time for another refresher because it always seems like when Matt revisits a tech, it’s moved forward faster than even he anticipated.

Yes. Which brings us perfect. To this video, this is Matt’s most recent episode. This is game Changing Tech for batteries. Lithium Mining explained it aired originally on October 25th, 2022. And ultimately what you’re talking about in this, you’re talking about Energy X, I’ve got the company. Mm-hmm. , right?

And there is it, their ceo, te.

Yes. Teague is the ceo. Okay. And

founder. So you’re talking with Teague again. You had conversations with him a little more than a year

ago. A little

over a year ago, yeah. Yep. And at that time, his, his company was looking at ways of using nanotech to harvest lithium and doing so in a way that would alleviate some of the mining concerns.

Well, here we are now, a little more than a year. And it sounds very much like Teague is not only much further down the path on doing exactly what he set out to do previously, but yeah, he’s even got some new ideas about what his company could do. Do you want to touch on some of those offshoots from his main focus?

Yeah, well, I mean they did pilot testing and so they’ve kind of proven out the tech and now they’re working with new partners to roll out four or five more implementations of the technology. But what they’re planning on doing is building out batteries, which is, he talked about that when I talked to him a little over a year ago.

He brought up the fact that they’ve been talking to battery researchers cuz this, their technology could be used as a membrane, uh, solid state battery. And, uh, , they’ve actually gone way further down the path of that than I anticipated. And on John B, Good Enough’s, who’s now retired, legendary battery researcher.

His team, a significant portion of his team from the University of Texas is now working at Energy X, researching solids day batteries, lithium metal batteries. And that’s the part that kind of blew me away. I didn’t expect them to be that far along in the process of their battery research. So it sounds like.

Getting very close to trying to find partners and trying to do pilot testing with some initial battery designs, which is kind of crazy.

Yeah, I enjoyed in the video when you asked the question, What about that team? And he just smiled and said, That team works for me now. Yes, , including pointing out that one of his lead guys is the last PhD student to graduate under.

Good enough. So, yes. Yep. So at least we know that guy is good enough. Oh, sorry. Sorry, . So some of the things that occurred to me as I was watching the video that I don’t know that you had a direct discussion with Teague about this, but I was wondering a lot, the discussion seemed to be about, you take either, uh, the, the hydration method, dehydration method, where you’re putting out the, you’re creating a brine and you’re allowing.

The brine pools. The brine pools. You’re allowing that to effectively reach a saturation level where you can start filtering it through a carbon, a nanocar filter and capture the lithium. And he discussed how the nanocar actually has, there are properties within the, the chemical reactions of these things.

The physics of it, where lithium just naturally wants to go through the netting and other materials, want to avoid the netting so that the filtration process is very efficient and doesn’t require it’s, it’s not like you’re having to apply any kind of energy or tech to this other than just a, a natural filtration process.

How applicable is this to other forms of lithium? Filtration. And what I’m thinking about mainly would be recycling processes because he’s talking at one point about three different types. Harvesting tech, which include solvents and mm-hmm. , you know, breaking down mineral components, breaking down mind components.

And I’m wondering how much could this technology be used in a recycling plant where they’re taking existing batteries, breaking them up, chewing them up into some kind of metal slurry, and then dissolving that, and then using this process. That. Is that something that they have looked into or is this just me merging two different texts together?

He and I didn’t talk about that, but it wouldn’t surprise me that it could be, I don’t think it. Will be mainly because there are so many companies that are already doing lithium battery recycling, um, like Lifecycle American, manganese, redwood materials, and they’re all have different, slightly different processes of what they do, but the way they, it’s called black mass.

You chew up the batteries and you end up with this, that slurry, just like this mound of stuff, it’s just this black mass. And then you basically start to separate and extract the different materials out. Typically do that with acids and different chemicals to separate things out. That process is actually very efficient, very cheap, very easy to do.

So I don’t know if there’s gonna be a huge benefit to do something like energy Xs membranes with their metal organic frameworks for that. I don’t know if it’s like, if there’s an expert out there that knows, it’s like, it doesn’t seem to me like it would be a d a huge gain by doing that. Earlier in the process, the actual mining aspect, there is huge gains cuz like for the brine pools, I didn’t bring it up in this video, but we talked about it in my previous one.

The brine pools, you’re stepping down so you, you do evaporation and then you take from one brine pool, you move to the next one, and then you get it down to another concentration level and you keep moving it forward until it precipitates down to the level that you need at the end. And at the end you typically are only extracting 30 to 50% of the lithium that you had at the beginning of the process.

It’s like it’s not efficient. You’re losing a lot of lithium along the way. Mm-hmm. , where the energy X method, you’re getting over 90% of the lithium from the extraction. So not only is it faster, it gets more of it. So it’s, it’s just saves time. It gets more of it from the process. It’s just like a win, win-win.

It’s so demonstrably better. And

the timeframe they’re talking was it’s months for the original method. Oh, 18 months. 18 months. And it’s. Yes. It’s days or hours for this method. Yes,

correct. So it’s like, it’s just how fast, how many of these units do you need to get the capacity that you need to churn through versus okay, we’re starting this blind pool over here and 18 months later we’ll have lithium over there.

it’s, it’s just so much more efficient to do something like this, where if you’re doing something like in recycling, I don’t know if you’re gonna get massive benefits by switching from one method to another. Mm-hmm. , it’s more. Potato potato kind of thing. Um, is that because in

recycling from you can be more, you can be more direct in being able to say, We started with a hundred pounds of lithium in this form and now we Exactly.

But now we have a hundred pounds of lithium over here.

Right. You know, you, hundred pounds. Right? Like everything that you’re recycling from a shoot up battery, you want all of it. Like, you want every component of that thing. You’re, you’re getting, you’re getting to get stuff out of the brine pools that you don’t want, you’re gonna get stuff out of or that you don’t want.

There’s gonna be like all this crap that you’re gonna be tossing away and there says a lot more to deal with. So it’s like there’s. Different methods. And for, from my conversation with TIG and others in the recycling industry, it just, it just sounds like you gotta find the right tool for the right job, which is what you and I always say every time we talk.

And so it’s like, I, I’m not sure if this membrane would be the right tool for the right job in recycling, but maybe it could be.

I’m wondering too about the massive differences and, you know, you wouldn’t think, Oh, boli. Argentina and mm-hmm. , he’s in a position where he’s saying, Yeah, we had to really reinvent parts of the process for Argentina cuz it didn’t match what we were doing in Bolivia from a chemical perspective.

Right. And color me naive. I was a little surprised by that. I was like, Wow, it’s really kind of so, so is I, It’s kind of a fascinating, like you would think, like I tend to think like, oh, you dig into the ground, you find a mineral, and then somebody else in another part of the world digs into the ground.

They find the same mineral. So you have a, a fairly one to one equivalency, and as he’s pointing out, that’s not how it goes. And obviously there are issues around, like, Argentina. The question about like mountain ranges, what is the effective depth that you’re going into versus a a different place which may have a different.

Age to the, the places that you’re looking. It’s also

what’s with the lithium, it’s like, okay, this area has a ton of manganese and this place doesn’t, So it’s like you have to account for the additionals things that are in one area versus the other. Right?

Yeah. So you talked in the video about. How much Bolivia is effectively the gold mind of, they’re huge of lithium.

So it’s, if we had a, a gold rush here in the United States, in California in the 1840s, do we have a lithium rush in Bolivia? Our companies descending account Bolivia, with the intent of we need to get this out of the ground as quickly and efficiently as.

Yes, there is no shortage of companies going to Bolivia saying, Please, we’d love to work with you.

And Bolivia’s being very careful in who they’re selecting. And

I’m careful in what a little way is my question. Yeah, I was

gonna say, it’s a, it’s Etue was very political and cautious in how he phrased his answers to me about Bolivia. But I am not tied to Bolivia, so I’ll just say this. It’s a.

Questionable government, that there’s some levels of corruption and some questions around the government and their policies and the fact that they held this, um, open call to, for people to help improve their lithium mining. And there were several companies that were selected to do this participation in Energy X is one of them.

And they said, We’re gonna pick a winner from whoever does it best. And the thing was over and they still haven’t picked a winner. So it’s like it’s, there’s something weird going on behind the scenes, something hinky going on, and the fact that Energy Acts was the only company that had a pilot facility on the ground in Bolivia, and they crushed it and they still didn’t get the winner, uh, the winning order.

All the other companies haven’t been picked either. So it’s like there’s something weird going on in Bolivia right now with why they’re doing what they’re doing. Whatever that is. Yeah. Um, I’ll leave it up to everybody else to speculate, but it wasn’t because Energy X’s technology doesn’t work. There’s something else at play.


politics. And what is the number two source for lithium? Well, China

and Bolivia are kind of like the big players. Mm-hmm. and tea, and I talked about this a lot and I put some of it in the video. There’s a surprising amount of lithium out there and people, there’s a lot of discussion about there’s not enough lithium to, to for what we require, and that’s not completely true.

There actually is a significant amount of lithium. It’s just we can’t get to it efficiently because of how we currently mine it. But with technologies like what Energy X has, it’s gonna unlock a whole bunch of new places. And one of those places is America, like our concentration, the the parts per. It’s much lower than Bolivia.

Like Bolivia is like the the cream of the crop. But here in America, we still have a concentration level in different areas of our country that with large swaths of it. That is mineable with something like Energy X. So it’s like we can start to supply on lithium supply, but as many people point out at the comments, there are battery technologies that don’t require lithium at all.

And it’s like they were saying we should look at those. And it’s like, yes, we absolutely should. Yeah. But it’s like, you gotta remember, it’s gonna take a decade or more to ramp up other technologies before we can actually start to use ’em at scale. Right? So right now, lithium is our best bet. So we gotta be mining lithium, right?

So there, this is a clear winner to me of energy

access approach. You touch on something that I was gonna raise later on in our conversation, which is as there are competitors to not only T’s approach around lithium, but other competing technologies to lithium, how prepared is energy X to slide into some of those other.

Areas, In other words, right. Is this technology something that they could say, Well, we can do with this with lithium. We could also do it with, and then name other minerals Yeah. That they could use this technology for.

Oh yeah. No, this is middle organic frameworks are very adaptable. There’s lots of different things you can do with it.

The fact that they were, you know, we’re gonna be doing lithium mining, No, by the way, we can do lithium metal batteries. It shows that it’s very flexible and in my last conversation with Teague a year ago, we talked about how this could be used for desalination and there’s a huge need for Desal Nation around the planet.

This technology can be used for that. So it’s even when we transition away from lithium at some point in the future, and it’s not a big need anymore, it’s this technology is going to be able to be repurposed for an assortment of things in the mining industry and battery tech. So, They’re gonna be able to adapt and grow over time.

It’ll be interesting to see where they end up. Yeah. If not, in just lithium, I’m very, very interested in that, especially with the desalinization aspect of it, which, you know, usable water, and I don’t just mean drinkable water. Usable water is, Yeah. Going to become in some ways more important. Uh, where’s our oil coming from because Yep.

You know, we’re, we’re reaching a critical mass right now of food production and the ability for farming to actually have enough water to raise the crops is becoming an issue as we enter drought stages. around the world, including here in the United States. So yeah, this is gonna become a bigger and bigger issue as we move forward.

There were also comments like this one from You Bites, who wanted to remind us all that there are other ways of extracting lithium and he points out another way of extracting lithium that you didn’t mention is from clay. It’s not known that much yet, but it’s been proven to work in a pilot plant, Nevada.

You can check Cypress Development Court. They just released extraction results for battery grade lithium at 99.94. This exceeded the battery grade purity needed 99.5. They’re in the process of doing this feasibility study, but the price per ton in the pre-feasibility study, which is harder to say than you would think, was $3,387, so it looks comparable to current costs.

They also use a lot less water than Brian operations, so. There’s another hint for you. Yes, Matt? Maybe to dig into another source of not only Lithium, but videos for the future. So the listeners, I’m curious, what are your thoughts about all this? The evolution of this technology is, I mean, Matt and I have talked about this before, nano.

Is a word that is slapped on products. Nano carns is used to describe everything from phone cases to pencil tips, and it usually means Marvel movies. Marvel movies, Ironman suit, and it means nothing most of the time. Yeah. But this is technology that people have been hinting at for decades, and it seems like we have reached a stage where people pointing at a machine that’s humming along and somebody could say, Well, that’s nano.

At work, and it might actually be real this time. So what do you think? Do you think that this company is, as Matt and I have been talking about leading the way, or do you see this as simply a blip as we move on to other tech? Let us know the comments. You can jump into the comments on YouTube directly below the video, or you can reach out through the contact information in the podcast.

Des. You’ll find that podcast description wherever it was. You found this podcast, you know where you found it. Go back there. Yeah, , look for it. I hope you do. Spotify, Apple, Google, many, many places. And while you’re there, you can like us, you can review us and you can follow us. You can share us with your friends.

You can also go to still tbd.fm. Click a, they become a supporter. Which allows you to throw coins at us. We appreciate the bruises. You can do the same right here on YouTube by clicking the join button here. All of that really does help support the show. Thank you so much for listening and watching. We’ll talk to you next time.

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