220: Solid State Batteries – Are They Here?


Matt and Sean talk about solid state batteries crawling into our lives and whether or not they’re actually here. Are they?

Watch the Undecided with Matt Ferrell episode, Solid State Batteries are Closer Than You Think https://youtu.be/gG2_5GMWf1E?list=PLnTSM-ORSgi7uzySCXq8VXhodHB5B5OiQ

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On today’s episode of Still to be Determined, we’re talking about waiting years for tomorrow to come. Hi, everybody. I’m Sean Ferrell. I’m a writer. I write some stuff for adults. It’s sci fi. I write some stuff for kids. That’s also sci fi, so I don’t know why I designate those as separate things. Anyway.

way. I’m just generally curious about technology and with me as always is my brother Matt. He is that Matt behind Undecided with Matt Ferrell, which takes a look at emerging tech and its impact on our lives. And Matt, how are you doing today? I’m doing pretty

well. I mean, it was weird, Sean. I just saw you this morning and yet we’re in different rooms again.

We saw each other this morning and now this is our little peek behind the curtain for our viewers and listeners. This is our fifth attempt at doing this intro, so no matter how this one goes, we’re sticking with it. We’re going for it. We’re doing it. That’s right. In a few minutes, we’re going to be talking about Matt’s most recent episode, which the reason I mentioned waiting years for tomorrow to come, well, we’re going to be talking about solid state batteries.

And yes, I can hear some of you groaning.

Mm hmm.

We’ve heard those promises before. What makes today any different? Well, we’ll get down to that. But before we do, we always like to revisit the comments from our previous episode. And these are from our previous episode on wind turbines, episode 219. There were comments like this from Darth Sirrius.

Foreboding username, but I like it who wrote in, so it’s not home wind turbines that we want. It’s silent home wind turbines roll on the floor. I never actually considered the noise factor before. Now, if there was an affordable wind turbine I could throw on the roof of my home in two or three places on the highest points, I would probably have jumped on that.

Just to get some extra generation at night or windy days. But considering my bedroom is right underneath one of those mounting points, I feel like that would have been a terrible idea now. So I, Darth, I’m very happy for your sake, but you didn’t put some wind turbines on your house only to discover that it sounds like your bedroom was about to land in Chicago in 15 minutes.

So Matt, my question for you is, Are there alternatives for Darth, or people like Darth, who might be looking for those alternatives to solar that they could use on their home today to get a little bit more of a sustainable impact on those cloudy days or at night? Or are we all basically in a situation similar to where you are?

You get your solar during the day, battery packs at night, and then just try to make it through those darker winter months.

I mean, unfortunately that’s kind of the situation we’re in. It’s like, you kind of have to either do solar plus energy storage or nothing for the most part. I mean, there are wind turbines for homes.

We talked about it. They can be noisy. Um, the stuff that’s coming to market. Hopefully at some point, like there’s a company called, um, Ridgeblade that has this turbine that goes across the ridge of the roof. I think they’re a Canadian company. I talked about them a couple years ago. They’ve gone kind of radio silent.

I have reached out to them numerous times. And it’s unclear if they’re still in business or if they’re out of business or what’s going on. But I’ve tried to get in touch with them for a couple of years and never responded to one of my emails. And that’s obviously a sign that something’s, something’s amiss, but yet they keep posting things on their Facebook page, which is what is happening.

I haven’t, part of the reason I want to talk to them is because like, it looks interesting. But how noisy is it? It’s not quite clear how noisy it is, and I have a feeling it’s noisier than you would want. And considering it’s right on the ridge of your roof, I would assume some of that sound would just transfer its way through the frame of the house.

So I’d be very concerned about that. Yeah, I imagine if you had

something like that mounted, you’d want it to have like some kind of shock absorption system, I imagine as well, because hard mounting solar panels Well, they’re solar panels. They’re not intended to move. They don’t move, but get yourself a nice propeller up there that’s doing anything like that.

And you’re going to feel it even potentially.

Yeah. I mean, just think about like your laptop or your PC or something on your desk. Sometimes you get coil whine. You’ll just hear this high pitch little whine and it gets to the point where it’s kind of like, you know, nails on a chalkboard where you want to start like murdering somebody or setting the laptop on fire.

Cause it’s, even though it’s not loud, It’s at a, it’s at a frequency that’s just like an earworm and just gets in there and you can’t stop it. Yeah. So it’s like, I, I, I worry about that with some of these like technologies that have moving parts. It’s like, maybe it’s not loud decibels, but maybe it’s a frequency that’s just right that just drives you bonkers even if they’re not loud.

So for me, it’s right now. We’re kind of in a situation where if you want something silent, it’s solar panels

and batteries. There were also a lot of comments and I won’t share too many of them. Um, in fact, let me be honest. I’m not going to share any of them about the NIMBY of it all. It’s, there were recurring comments of the, it feels like what we’re battling a lot is a lot of neighbors and neighborhoods that wouldn’t want this.

That of course is contextual. You know, you, over time, if you had a neighborhood that did have windmills, give it a generation, nobody’s going to notice the windmills. It’s kind of like telephone poles. When telephone poles were first being put in, I guarantee you, there were people like, what do you mean I’m going to have these in front of my house?

I don’t think those are ugly. What are those wires? I hate this. And then. Yeah. You and I grew up in a neighborhood full of telephone poles and wires and nobody sees any of it because we’re just accustomed to it. So when it comes to the NIMBY aspect and the people who push back on this kind of thing, one of the things that you would want to do is provide, uh, guidance for people who are hesitant to allow these into their, into their neighborhoods.

Data to maybe provide. Information about like, well, what is the benefit and what is the impact and what is the environmental impact? And what is the living impact for a neighborhood that makes these kinds of changes? And I was curious, do you know of any resources that people can go to to find that data and information about these different things?

Types of technology, not just wind turbines, but across the board for people to begin to gather data. If they’re trying to advocate for some changes in policy or in their neighborhoods, home ownership associations, and they get the pushback of, oh, those things are noisy or they don’t work. Do you have some quick resources that you could point people to to say like, oh, I’ve can go there and I can research how effective, how noisy.

Or across the board for different types of tech.

Is there anything like that? Oh man, that’s across the board. The answer is no. Unfortunately, it’s really comes down to like research papers and things like that. Um, there’s people that you can follow on like X, formerly known as Twitter, um, I don’t know how to pronounce his last name, so I’m going to butcher it and I apologize in advance, but there’s, um, Aukehoekstra or Aukehoekstra.

I think it’s how you say his last name. Um, he’s a researcher, scientist, all about renewable energy. He’s on X just like completely like debunking all the stuff. And he points to plenty of research papers about the benefits. That go beyond climate. It’s just like how, how do EVs benefit yourself and your community?

How do they, what’s the cost of ownership? What’s the impact on the environment? It’s like all the kind of stuff he’s kind of debunking all of it. Um, so if you go to his profile on X, he has a whole bunch of things pinned on his account, links to things. Um, he’s a great resource if you’re interested in this to find talking points on how to.

combat the nimbyism that is often out there. Um, it doesn’t mean you’ll win the argument. It doesn’t mean that you’ll convince them, but he’s a very, very, very good resource. And I know I butchered his name, so I apologize. Um, actually let me give you his, his, his account if you’re interested is the, um, at A U K E H O E K S T R A.

That’s his account, so I would definitely recommend following him.

This is also maybe a time to recognize that that may be a gap that somebody ought to fill. The, you know, kind of sustainable tech for the homeowner and just data points about the average lifespan of solar panels, the average output of solar panels, the noise Environmental noise impact of home ownership, wind turbines, um, battery, you know, consumption and, and stuff like that, that might be a good starting point for people with, with links, pointing them to other resources, wider, um, it seems like public education is a big, big gap in what we’re looking at when it comes to sustainable tech in the home.

Yeah, there’s, there’s another one I completely forgot about, just came into my head. The Union of Concerned Scientists. Um, their website is, uh, ucsusa. org. It’s a, it’s interesting because it’s, it’s kind of like people that gawk that like do research into how green is an EV really. Compared to a gasoline car debunking things.

They do have a lot of stuff like that, but it’s, it’s, I don’t know. I don’t think they’re as, uh, pointed. That’s all I get in his, in his take on things. So depending on how spicy you want to get. Um, go to X or go to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Either one of those would be a good

place to start. Well, if our viewers and listeners are anything like me, they like their sustainability.

Spicy. Spicy. On now to Matt’s most recent episode. This is from Solid State Batteries Are Closer Than You Think, which dropped on May 21st, 2024. And a good chunk of the top comments Like, like this from Quackmore who wrote, didn’t I watch this video five years ago? Or Snappy Cat, or Snappy Cat who said, I will charge my solid state battery car using electricity generated by fusion power plants just 10 years away.

Or from Prathmaral who said. So if I understand it correctly, the commercialization date is 2028. So solid state batteries are not five years away now. They are only four years away now. And then this one that caught Matt’s eye, usually I’m the one who goes through and looks for the ads or the comments, excuse me, and Matt caught this one, which was.

From James Buckingham who said, five years is a stretch until I can order from Amazon. It’s not even close. So please no solid state information unless it’s in your possession. Okay. So lots of comments. Similar vein, similar vibe pointing out that the more things change, the more they stay the same. What do you have, if anything, to say in response to the idea that like, well, five years has been for five years, five years, like we keep moving forward, but the gap keeps continuing.

Well, there’s, there’s two sides to this. There’s two things I want to actually three. One is. I screwed up in the making of this video. Um, when we were putting this video together, originally the original intention was I wanted to do a revisit, because it had been two years since we had talked about it. I know a lot of stuff has happened in those two years, and I kind of wanted to cover some of that stuff.

I’ve talked about Solid Power before, I’ve talked about QuantumScape before, so this was kind of a revisit. How are they doing? And part of the reason that we focused the script on EVs as kind of like the talking point was the mistake. And that was a huge mistake on my part. Um, I, in the, in the video I did bring up in the beginning, this stuff is coming for our laptops, our phones.

It’s, it’s going to be in a lot of stuff. Um, there’s a lot of benefits, but let’s talk about EVs. Cause that’s where some of these big companies are focused on because EVs suck up all of the battery cell production. There’s a lion’s share of everything. So it makes sense that a company like QuantumScape or SolidPower would be like, we’re starting with EVs cause that’s where the biggest

wedge of pie is, um, that was mistake because I should have talked about the smaller wedges of Pi that are already out there. Um, but I’ll get to that in a second. The part that kind of got me a little bit with some of these comments was they were kind of missing the point of, I wasn’t talking about, Mass adoption of these batteries.

I’m talking about these batteries are here today. There’s, it’s not like we don’t understand the battery chemistries that they do. They work or not. They work. What these companies are doing right now is fine tuning the mass production of them to make as many as fast as they can, as cheaply as they can.

But it doesn’t mean that they don’t know how to do it because they’re, they’re doing it. So solid state batteries do exist. These cells are being produced in large quantities right now and being shipped off to their partners. So that, that was the point of the video of, this is not a mythical unicorn.

It’s here. It’s not in our hands yet, but it’s here. So that was the point of the video and the way it was communicated was not super clear. So that I, it’s completely on me. But to go back to my other point of, I should’ve talked about the smaller wedges. Okay, so the comment about let me know when they’re available on Amazon.

Uh, okay. So here, let me go put myself up here. So this, this is a Yoshino solid state battery pack. That I ordered on Amazon two days ago, and it showed up at my house basically like this morning. And, um, it exists. I’m holding one. It’s not, it’s not fictional. So it’s, it’s, this is to go back to that comment of let me know.

I’m letting you know. And it’s like, I should have talked about the Yoshino battery because this is just one example and there are others. There are others out there. This is not the only one. These batteries exist. They’re not a unicorn. They are available today. If you, you have a use case for a battery pack like this, and they come in different sizes.

I got the smallest one. Um, which is actually, it’s, I think it’s 241 watt hours and it’s a 330 watt output capacity. Um, and it, this, the battery that’s in this thing will last thousands and thousands of cycles. So there are downsides to this battery compared to a battery pack like it, that would be made with lithium iron phosphate, uh, where that you might get more power out, like a similar size battery might give you 500 watts output.

Compared to this 330, uh, but this is going to last twice as long as that lithium iron phosphate battery. And It’s actually even safer than the already very safe lithium iron phosphate battery. So it depends on what your use case is, what you need. Um, I’m probably going to be using this almost kind of as a kind of a backup for my computer system in my office, uh, just in case, you know, power goes out or glitches or something like that.

And I’ll have this handy, but that’s kind of what I want to point out. It’s like the focus of the video was EVs. And so a lot of people were talking about how it’s like fusion power. Because it’s still not in EVs and so while they feel like they’re dunking on me, they’re not because it’s, again, here it is, Sean, it exists, it’s available.

So I, I want to kind of ask you as well as the viewers, what I’m wondering if I should do a follow up video talking just about this, like literally this battery pack that’s in my hands about this chemistry. It’s available today. Look at this stuff as a response to a lot of this feedback that I’ve gotten on the previous video.

Well, that brings me around to the other comments that I was going to share in this episode, which are UBICAU jumped in to say some solid state batteries for consumers already on the market. Under Yoshino Power, you can buy them to power your electronics or home. So you have commenters who are pointing this out.

There were also, somebody pointed out that they have one of these Yoshino batteries in their boat and use it to power their navigation system. And then there were comments like this from Logan Daniels who said, QuantumScape is much closer than five years away. Volkswagen has stated several times that they will be putting QuantumScape batteries in their cars this year.

So, I think maybe a follow up video of the solid state batteries that you talked about in this video are on the horizon, but what is there right now would be useful, because I don’t think that that was communicated in a way that really caught everybody.

Yeah, yeah.

If your viewers were jumping in and saying, they don’t exist yet, so why are you talking about them?

Or, hey, maybe you don’t know that they do exist. So, I would encourage that. I would ask you too, uh, now in our conversations, can you think of any other situations that are analogous to this where there’s been this, it’s never gonna happen, it’s never gonna happen, it’s never gonna happen, and then it’s happened.

And just like kind of like big picture from tech and, and the, your incorporation of sustainability and tech into your home, how often have you seen that case of, Oh, it’s never going to happen. And then you’re like, yeah, but I got one plugged in right away.

Uh, one example would probably be EVs. A lot of people just, EVs are never going to happen. They can’t go far enough. And now we have EVs kind of taking over the car market. And I’ve got one parked in my garage. Um, that’s, I would say an example of one. Um, I think solid state batteries obviously is one. I don’t know if it really counts, but like, there’s still people that don’t think solar.

Can work and yet I’ve got solar strapped to my roof. I’m not paying an electric bill, so I don’t know what you think doesn’t work. Um, it’s, it’s going to work out for me financially. It’s going to work out for me power wise. It’s, it’s benefiting me in many, many, many ways. It may not be right for you. It’s working for me.

Um, So I think there’s a lot of this tech that we can put in our homes. Um, that does satisfy the need. Oh, heat pumps. People still say heat pumps don’t work in the cold. And it’s like, yeah, they do. They exist. Uh, let’s stop using arguments from 40 years ago and look at the current state of technology.

They’ve, they’ve solved those problems that people are still complaining about and say they don’t work. I still see those comments on my videos. Heat pumps don’t work in the cold. It’s like, well, I guess you should have told me three months ago in the middle of winter when I was toasty warm in my house for my heat pump.

It’s like, it’s one of those, it’s in my house. I’m experiencing it. What do you mean? Heat pumps don’t work in the cold. So it’s, it’s one of, it’s one of those things. Um, I think there’s a lot of that, but what I’m citing is more, you know, I don’t know. It’s kind of like a built in bias that people have a blind spot that they’re not willing to look past versus a technology that has been promised for a long time and is still not here.

Uh, the next closest analogy I think to the solid state battery would be graphene. I mean, graphene was overhyped as this miracle material that’s going to revolutionize the world 20 years ago. It’s like, well, where is it? It’s like, well, guess what? It’s actually in a lot of stuff now. You just don’t know it.

So it’s like, it is here. It is making a difference. It’s actually used in some batteries right now and super capacitors right now. Uh, but again, it’s not sexy. So people don’t see it. So they feel like it was, they were just lied to all these years. And in reality, it’s actually being used. Um, same thing with carbon nanotubes, which is kind of an offshoot of that.

So there’s a whole bunch of like little tech that would say kind of is flying in the face of a lot of what people think. And they drop those comments and it’s like, it’s, if they knew how not true their comment was, they wouldn’t feel like they’re dunking on me.

Well, I invite our listeners and viewers jump into the comments and let us know if you can think of other examples where people were saying, well, that’s never going to happen, but you know that you happen to have one that you just don’t.

Put in your glove box and very proudly we’re taking home. Let us know. We love hearing from you. The comments help drive the content of this program. They also help shape the content of Matt’s program. As he just mentioned, he may in fact be creating a followup video. Based on the fact that the comments on this video were, Hey Matt, what about, what about, what about?

So jump into the comments, let us know what you think. Also don’t forget, leave a review, don’t forget to subscribe, and please do share it with your friends. All of those are great ways for you to support the channel. And if you’d like to more directly support us, you can go to stilltbd. fm or you can go to YouTube and on both of those locations, you can click the supporter button and you Provide us direct support.

You can throw the coins at our heads. We appreciate the welts. And then we get down to the business of making the podcast. Thank you everybody for taking the time to watch or listen. We’re looking forward to talking to you next time.

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