145: Put Those Cans To Use – Aluminum Ion Batteries

On today’s episode of Still To Be Determined we’re turning our beer cans into batteries … well … we’re talking about aluminum ion batteries and how they might be the successor to the lithium ion battery. 

Watch the Undecided with Matt Ferrell episode, “Can This Metal Really Beat the Lithium Battery?”: https://youtu.be/5B6icvUBNzE?list=PLnTSM-ORSgi7UWp64ZlOKUPNXePMTdU4d

YouTube version of the podcast: https://www.youtube.com/stilltbdpodcast

Get in touch: https://undecidedmf.com/podcast-feedback

Support the show: https://pod.fan/still-to-be-determined

Follow us on Twitter: @stilltbdfm @byseanferrell @mattferrell or @undecidedmf

Undecided with Matt Ferrell: https://www.youtube.com/undecidedmf 

★ Support this podcast ★

Hey everybody. On today’s episode of Still To Be Determined, we’re gonna be talking about what you can finally do with all those cans that have been sitting in your garage, . That’s right. We’re talking about recent developments in aluminum batteries. We’re also gonna be talking about other battery technology, which utilizes more plentifully available.

Ingredients as opposed to lithium, so it could find a foothold if it can be made to work efficiently and cheaply. But we’ll talk about that in a minute. As usual, I’m Sean Ferrell. You are listening to Still To Be Determined, the Follow-Up podcast that follows on the heels of undecided with Matt Ferrell, which can only mean one.

I’m sitting here with Matt Ferrell. . That’s right. Everybody calm down. Calm down. I’m here.

Matt, how you doing? I’m doing well. Ate way too much food on Thanksgiving and, uh, went into a food coma for what felt like two days. Yeah. How about, how about you?

Yeah, I, to everybody in our audience who celebrated Thanksgiving, we hope you had a pleasant one.

We hope it was happy and healthy and that family and friends remain so as well. And. Join you in the. I have been eating like a garbage disposal for about a week. , me too. And I feel like it’s even bones and the nubs of the brussel sprout that you chop off before you roast them. I feel like anything that passes by my mouth, I’m just like,


I feel like an anime character where my mouth just got big and I’m just like, yeah. Pushing it all. Yeah.

It’s like I fit my mouth over the end of the table and I just tilted the table up and so everything went in and last night I was lying in bed at the. It was around three o’clock and I was lying there just listening to my stomach, sound like it was a nightclub playing techno music.

So I had a lot of boom, sounded like dubstep, and I swore to myself like, tomorrow. Tomorrow you begin to fast. Tomorrow you let your digestion. Cool down so that you can gear up for what will be a repeat at Christmas. So that’s right. So if anybody else is out there in the same boat, if you got a remedy, Drop it in the comments, and I’m not joking.

Like if you’ve got that remedy that’s just like, Hey, if you just drink a bottle of Sprite, you’ll feel fine. Drop it in the comments. Let us know how you cured the post Thanksgiving. Oh God, what did I do? What have I done? What did I do? I don’t remember eating concrete. As I said at the top of the show, we are gonna be talking about Matt’s most recent episode before we get into.

I’d like to share comments on our previous episode. This would be from episode 1 44 Gone Fusion, which included a conversation around breakthroughs infusion technology, as well as Matt’s long form interview with David Curtley talking about fusion technology. And I didn’t pull a single comment from the episode because all of the comments were effectively.

More of this, please. More of the long form interviews. People really, really liked it. There were lots of comments saying when you get somebody with this kind of knowledge that Mr. Curly has, and you just give them the opportunity to talk, and you give them good questions and let them just clear the air about what they’re doing and how and where they are hoping to get.

That’s all. That’s all the audience really wants. And so it was a big thumbs up from everybody saying like more of this. This is great. I did wanna share this one comment though from old gamer, nube Gamer has dropped into our comments previously and old gamer Nube dropped by to say this. The image of a long generator with pulses repeatedly moving through it reminds me of Star.

Yes, yes, gamer. We agree everything about that conversation, the fusion conversation, fusion energy itself does sound very star Trek, and let us take an opportunity here to drop right now into this conversation. I don’t know if our audience here is all too familiar or not, but we do have a second podcast, which is called Trek in Time, and you can find it here on YouTube.

You can also find it on any of the podcast platforms where you might have found this podcast. And in Trek. In Time, what we do is we talk about star Trek, but we do it a little differently. We’re talking about it in chronological. Of within the Star Trek universe. So we started with Enterprise and we’re currently finishing the third season and we’re starting the fourth.

And we also talk about what the world was like at the time of the original broadcast. So as we talk about the episodes, we also talk about news and current events from the era of the original broadcast. So we’ve been talking about 2004, which means we’ve been talking a lot about things like the Iraq War, Enron scandals and presidential races involving.

Mr. Bush and Carrie, as well as other news from around the world, including what other television shows, what other movies, what music was being listened to, watched at the time. So if anybody’s interested in Star Trek, please drop in on Trek in Time and check it out. It is, as Matt and I have consistently tried to frame it evergreen.

You can drop in and watch any episode after watching the companion show that we are talking. Or if you want to go all the way back to the beginning and try to catch up, as some of our listeners have recently shared, they did. We welcome you to try to do that.

It’s gonna take us like 30 years to go through all the shows.

Yes. And considering they’re continually making new episodes, the logistics of how we’re gonna manage this have. It’s been getting a little tricky, but I think we’ll be okay. Complicated. Yeah. Yep. So I hope you’ll join us for that and enjoy it for the next 30 years. When Matt and I are both in our eighties and saying, well, back in my day.

Interesting. Star Trek was actually a television program, not a hologram , but onto our conversation. Not an experience , but onto our conversations on Matt’s most recent episode, this is the episode. Can this metal really beat the lithium battery, which sounds like Matt is inviting people to use metal to pu.

A lithium battery, but in fact, no. He was talking about an ingredient, which might be a competitor with Lithium. And this episode dropped on November 22nd, 2022. That’s a lot of twos. And Matt, the metal you were talking about was of course aluminum. Aluminum or aluminum. If you live in Europe, aluminium, if you, if you like to let, uh, Google Doc.

Auto. Correct your typing. And it will throw in the aluminum for you when you use the Americanized aluminum. That’s right. But the discussion around this one, you focus on the aluminum side, of course. Mm-hmm. , there is also. Sulfur is another point that is brought up where there is an MIT battery development, which includes sulfur, and there is also molten salts which are used Yep.

As the conductive, uh, medium in these batteries. So this is across the board moving away from some of the more expensive and rare earth metals that are used in the lithium batteries. The plentiful nature of this is demonstrated by the pricing which you share at one point, the cost of lithium, the cost of manganese, the cost of cobalt, and then here comes little aluminum, which is, yeah, I mean brag, but I got a bunch of it upstairs in a recycling bag, so that’s right.

If you need some, you just let me know. , but graphing is also in the conversation. So I’m curious about graphing production. The company that you were talking to about that mm-hmm. in, in your interview, are they in fact making their own graphing or are they getting Yes it from somewhere else? The

graphing manufacturing group specializes in making graphing.

That’s one of their things that they do, and they’re also. Hush hush about sharing certain aspects of what they’re doing with their graphing, like how they make it, how much it costs to make. I tried to find out how much cost for them to make their graphing, and I would just get the response of this battery will be cost competitive.

Right. It’s like, could you give me a little more details about that? And they wouldn’t. I understand it probably because it is probably like if they gave the the cost, it’d be like, whoa, that’s expensive. But they probably don’t need much of it. But yes, they do make their own. That’s their kind of


And when you say it’s cost competitive, what are some of those costs? Just if you are aware of the price of various types of batteries, what would those prices

be? Well, when they say that they’re comparing it to like the most popular, like lithium ion batteries, like a nickel, manganese, cobalt battery.

Like if it costs, you know, a hundred dollars per kilowatt hour. Whatever the cost is, they’re basically saying they can probably hit that same range of prices so that they will have a battery that can be cost competitive to the most popular batteries that are on the market right now. Mm-hmm. is what they’re saying.

Whether they can actually deliver on that or not, we’re gonna wait and see over the next year or two, but that’s their, their target is to be cost competitive with most popular batteries on the

market and that that goal of being cost competitive, how does that translate into. Size of battery or hours of power production or power release.

Um, because I know that in the video you talked about the ions, there are three ions in the aluminum side as opposed to the lithium side. So does that mean you’d potentially have, your cost is on par with lithium, but the size of the battery is one third as much or that it. Three times the lifespan or three times the charging speed.

How does that

translate? Yeah, it get, it, it, it’s the battery that they had showcased, I think it was like a year ago. They had about 150, I think it was WA hours. So basically it was half. The density of a typical lithium battery is basically what it was. Mm-hmm. . And they just recently announced in the recent months that they’ve now achieved something around 300, which is very close to standard lithium battery.

So right now for energy density, they’re basically on par with lithium battery using that one ion of the aluminum. Right. So they’ve, they’ve achieved basically rough parody, but it does take up a little more volume. So these batteries are gonna be a little bit bigger than a lithium ion battery. But you can still get the same number of what hours essentially in the energy density of the battery itself.

So it’s, it’s, it’s, once again, it comes back to they are building a competitive battery that can stand up to the most popular batteries right now. And in the comments, I don’t know if you noticed this, but there was a bunch of people that brought up things about getting, using those additional ions gets extremely challenging.

Mm-hmm. , and Yes, it does. And so whether they can actually use those is still a gigantic question mark. Even if they don’t, what they have right now is a very competitive battery. But where the real game changer is, is it works kind of like a capacitor. It’s almost like a super battery because of how fast it can charge.

Right now, the lithium battery, the limiting factor is the cable you’re putting between the wall, like the the grid, right? And your battery is the limiting factor for the nick, the aluminum batter. Because they can charge so fast. It’s like you’d melt, like imagine putting one of these into your phone and you’re trying to charge at its fastest rate and you’d put your little wire battery, your wire in the wire would just melt.

Yeah. Because it would, too much power would be going through. So we’d be looking at a feature where we might, we

might have charging cords that look a little bit more like what you put into a laptop as opposed to what we put into a.

Or, but there’s also the question of like, well, how fast is fast enough?

It’s like, how fast do you really have to make it? So it’s like if, if you double the thickness of just increase the gauge of the, and you can cut the charging time in half, that may be the perfect user experience. That you need, even though it’s still not maxing out the po, the possibility of the battery.

So for me, there’s that. And then there also is the longevity. These batteries will last much longer than a typical like nickel, manganese, cobalt battery. So you get faster charging, much longer lifespan. And right now they’re basically roughly on par for energy density with lithium ions. So even though they’re not taking advantage of those two extra ions, it’s like it almost doesn’t matter, right?

It’s like if they can deliver what they’re already making today, It’s gonna be a very competitive experience depending on what your needs are for your battery. You asked the

question how fast is fast enough. I think based on my understanding of what people enjoy, yeah. I think people would want to be able to experience charging as if charging is not even taking.

I think that ultimately is the goal. I think people wanna be able to walk around with their phone and casually put it down somewhere and have it be charging without their having to be conscious of having charged it. So I think that is the goal. And so when you ask that question, how fast is fast enough, I think instantaneous is ultimately the goal for a lot of people.

and then, and then dur. For me, I’m okay with charging over a period of several hours. I don’t have a problem with that. It’s easy enough for me to build that into my day or at night. For me, it’s the longevity issue and feeling like, yes, I would like to have a phone. I’m not a person who runs out and gets a new model every year.

I would personally like to have a mo buy a phone and have it last for five years before. Yes. You know, I need, before I feel the need to like, oh, let’s see what the newest models are. So it’s always battery life that drives me to the store to get a new phone, and I know that I’m getting there when I reach that point where I’m having to charge my phone twice a.

So it’s like when I hit that point, like it’s always the battery. It’s always the battery and they build the phones. So swapping out the battery isn’t technically at a certain point, the best bang for your buck. So you know that that is, that is the model that I’m looking forward to. The idea of, okay, this is not just about speed, but longevity I think is a key.

Th that’s where I’m at too. It’s like, for me, it’s not necessarily how fast it charges, it’s how long it’ll last. Like for my ev, if you really wanna try to. Charge a car in a way where it’s gonna limit the degradation. You wanna be bouncing between that 20% charged 80% charge. You don’t wanna take it down to zero and you don’t wanna take it up to a hundred.

Mm-hmm. to try to reduce how much the battery will degrade over time. Same thing with your phone and the way we all live with our phones, we don’t do that. Yeah. Like we will charge that sucker to a hundred percent and leave it plugged in overnight and like we’re doing stuff to our batteries. That really increases the degradation.

So your phone after a year and a half, This doesn’t last as long. Stupid battery. They’re trying to make me buy new phones. It’s like, no, we’re actually living with our phones in a horrible way. And these batteries are just, it’s just the battery. You have something like this kind of battery, you’re not gonna experience that degradation.

The battery will last you five years and it may degrade a very small amount and you wouldn’t even notice it. So you could basically abuse the hell out of how you’re charging and using it and not worry about what it’s gonna do to the battery itself. Right. Like that to. Is the biggest user experience benefit.

Yeah. And I think that if there’s one thing that most people can agree on, it’s that we really want to abuse our technologies. That’s right. . So in looking at this as a, okay, all things being equal, let’s say the aluminum battery technology hits a point where they’re like, this is it. This is what we can do.

And it’s basically. Identical to the lithium battery. Mm-hmm. , in your position, does it still sound like an overall gain to switch over technologies to using aluminum batteries as opposed to lithium? If they’re identical in power, density life, like all of those things, would you say like, yeah, it still makes sense to start going toward aluminum.

There’s the , there’s two hats you could wear. There’s the I’m the businessman hat, and then there’s the, I’m just the average Joe on the street hat average Joe on the street hat. It’s like, yeah, it makes perfect sense to switch over to something like aluminum. If you can get it to basically be completely comparable, cuz it’s most likely gonna be cheaper in the long run cuz of aluminum.

But at the same time for the business Manhattan, it’s like why am I going to go through all the effort of spinning up new. Plants to manufacture these batteries or have to find new suppliers. And there’s gonna be all this operational cost and opex expenses that I’m gonna have to do to switch over to this new thing when I can just keep doing this nickel, manganese coal ball battery over here that we’re doing.

And it’s cheap enough. It’s the same, eh? It’s like I think companies are gonna be, need to see that demonstrable gain in cost savings for them to switch. Where from users we’re gonna be like, please switch because we want batteries to last for five years and not have to worry about it. Right. So I. There’s, there’s gonna be kind of two boring factions, , depending on where you are in the user experience


I think that there’s also, there’s value in making the argument around ethics and Yeah, and impact lithium. The, the way. Mm-hmm. it is, it is the places where it is plentiful. The human rights issues around mining some of these materials like cobalt. Mm-hmm. . I think that there’s a strong ethical argument to be made if a company were to switch and make the switch.

Not about, well it’s better, but to make the marketing we’re doing what’s. Look at how we’re using something that is very, very plentiful and we often have lots of question marks of what do we do with all the materials we claim we’re recycling when we don’t have enough use for all those materials. And this would be a, I think that would be a marketing win to be able to say to the public, look, yes.

One to one. It’s not better across the board in any measurable way, but it does have an impact on what we are doing with our waste, and it has an impact on who is doing the work of gathering this stuff. So, Yep. That’s just my take. Like, like you said, there’s the business Manhattan, then there’s the Joe on the street, and that’s my Joe on the street take.

Yep. I also wanted to share some of these comments that were on the video. As Matt mentioned, there was a lot of people saying like they’ve been excitedly looking forward to changes like this. Like this one from Nick who wrote, I’ve been waiting for this moment ever since I first learned of the potentials of using graphene tech in 2013.

Mm-hmm. , it’s nice to see that there’s tangible progress. Lithium is merely another stepping stone to humanity reaching a true neutral, negative carbon footprint. Would you agree that that’s what lithium is, or do you think that lithium is going to hold on as we’ve talked about in the past? It’s not one tool for every job.

Do you think that yes, aluminum is potentially, if it does everything it wants to do, it could do all these different things, but do you still think there’s going to be that lithium battery or lithium usage still in.

Oh yeah, definitely. I mean, there are batteries that are in a similar state of production to this that are like lithium metal batteries that have insane, insane charging cycles, insane battery life, energy density, like the whole thing.

So I think lithium still has a a future ahead of it. But what’s exciting to me is when you add batteries like this into the mix, it’s like, okay, we don’t have to look at lithium to solve. All of our battery needs from an iPhone all the way up to an EV and then to the grid storage. It’s like, well, we could use lithium in the this ev, but then we could use aluminum in this phone and we could use this other type of battery in grid.

So it’s like the more options we have, we can use the right tool for the right job, for cost, efficiency, performance, all those kind of things, which reduces how much lithium overall that we. In the market. Right? And then on top of it, you have battery recycling projects. So it’s like, I don’t think lithium’s gonna go away in the next decade.

I don’t think it’s gonna go away in the next 20 years. I think it’s gonna be with us for a very long time, but it’s gonna become, I think it’s king status is gonna start to diminish because there’s gonna be more

options that are gonna roll in. Right. And when you have more options, there’s this comment from David who wrote, I hope that this aluminum ion or the aluminum sulfur batteries work out, it will move the ability to buy in an EV into the realm of the average family.

Yeah. And there’s that side of it, which is, yeah, lowering the overall cost of an EV by however many thousands of dollars is going to have tremendous impact on the market and the demand of that for the average American family. And worldwide. Yep. But it also has the impact of lowering the overhaul cost of the lithium batteries.

So it, that competitor will lower those costs of all the other tech. So that you end up driving down the costs of, oh, we still need to use lithium on this battery over here for this battery that is used for building or network storage as opposed to cell phone or car. Exactly. But you end up with overall across the board, those prices dropping as you have more competitors, and that’s what I think is also potentially going to be a huge part of this.

Yep. There was also this from Andreas Bari who wrote, this sounds too promising. The hotter the battery gets, the faster it can charge. That sounds crazy. I’m looking forward to this company’s development. So yeah, it really does sound like head scratching. It’s counterintuitive too. Perfect. Like, oh yeah. The good news is when you plug this in, it starts to get hot as it charges.

It’s gonna charge you even faster then. And then it’s done.


was a lot of skepticism I saw in the comments Yeah. About this, which I totally get. I totally get the skepticism. For me, the part of the reason I get a little excited about this specific, uh, battery is that it’s very close to being rolled out to market.

And so it’s like we’re not gonna have to wait very long to find out if it actually works as promised or not. So it’s like, it’s not something that’s gonna be eight years down the road. This is something that’s, A year or two from now, we’re gonna be able to know, did it work or didn’t it? How well did it work?

Do, are people actually starting to use this or not? So it’s, it’s closer than you think, which is part of why I focused on this company. I’m curious, how did

you match up with the. Gentleman that you spoke to in the

video I’ve had for several years now, numerous people say, Hey, look at the graphing manufacturing group.

Look at gmg. Look at gmg. And I never, I have, I mean, I’ve looked into them, but I’ve never made a video on them. So it’s been on my radar for a while. And I had a couple of people of, I, I did a, it was a graphing video I did a while back, and somebody once again, Please look into this company. So I finally kind of got off my butt and reached out to them and said, could you?

Lazy, lazy man. Yeah. So

I finally did it. It’s been on my agenda to do for a long time. I just finally got around to it.

Just kind of big picture take on the state of your channel. Mm-hmm. This from Jack who writes, Hey, Long time viewer here. I wonder if you’d ever consider making a sort of year end roundup.

I know Yearend Listicals can seem a bit superficial and click ba, but I’d love to see an overview of what progress has been made this year and what were some of the bigger breakthroughs. So there’s a suggestion from a viewer of something they would like to see. Do you have any thoughts on that? Do you have something brewing similar to that?

I, I

actually did have that on my agenda for this year. I was gonna do it for New Year’s Day and then had to shelve it because,

Life, life. Life gets in the way. Things got very,

yeah, it got very complicated. So I had to shelve that idea. But I do wanna do that. I do wanna revisit older topics again and again and again.

See how to update people on how those companies are doing or not doing in some cases. So I want to do that. It’s just a matter of

when. Yeah, yeah. For Matt’s channel and for this channel, we’ve had a number of episodes which have focused on the steps Matt is taking to build his own home. And of course, regular viewers and regular listeners will know the, the goal being, uh, net zero.

Impact and high energy efficiency and all of those developments have taken a lot of focus and a lot of energy on his side. What hasn’t really come up in the conversations on his channel or in this conversation are the fact that he and I have also been trying to long distance help our parents move from Rochester, New York to Matt’s neck of the woods in Western Mass, and believe you, me, It’s not as much fun as it sounds.

No . And when it comes to Matt’s channel about tech and its impact on our lives, the kinds of conversations that we would be having around getting our parents to figure out how to use text messaging. Yeah. Doesn’t make for an interesting episode, but there is enough conversation there for an episode if he were ever do it.

So, oh man. When Matt says life gets in the. It’s not only his life, but sometimes it’s the life of the two people who gave birth to us. That’s right. Finally, I wanted to end on this one, which is roughly also where we began. This one’s from Joe Poe who writes, I feel much better knowing all the beer cans in my garage are advancing aluminum battery storage technology.

I will continue to help save the environment one IPA at a time. Joe Poe, you’re doing God’s work. Thank you so much for what you do. God. Speed. So, listeners, curious, what are your thoughts about all of this? I’m not too surprised that some people in the comments are jumping in saying, this sounds a little too good to be true, but this is not a fly by night company.

This is not a company that is trying to string people along. This is a company that has been around for a while. They do one thing. F My understanding is GMG makes graphing for other people that is like mm-hmm. their bread and butter. So the developments that they’re doing all this, this is research and development that they’re doing in parallel to the main focus of their company.

So this is not a couple of scam artists who are trying to get ahold of anything from, from. But let us know what you think. Jump into the comments. Don’t forget. If you’d like to support the show, please consider reviewing us on Apple, Google, Spotify, wherever it was you found this. That also includes YouTube, and don’t forget to subscribe and don’t forget to share us with your friends.

All of those things really help us. If you’d like to more directly support us, you can click the join button on YouTube, or you can go to still tbd.fm. Click on the Become a Supporter button there. Both those ways allow you to throw coins at our heads. We get welts, we get bruises. Sometimes we get cuts.

We’re only human, but dammit. We appreciate each and every wound taking any or all of the steps listed above. Well, all of those things help the channel. Thank you so much for your time. Thank you so much for listening and commenting, and we’ll talk to you next time.

← Older
Newer →

Leave a Reply