98: Not Saying Easy… Easier – Graphene Supercapacitors

Matt and Sean talk about some positive steps in graphene and supercapacitor development & production.

Watch the Undecided with Matt Ferrell episode, “Revisiting the Supercapacitor – The Wait for Graphene is Over”: https://youtu.be/swdyGHvmXw0

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It’s been a long week
Hey everybody welcome to the still to be determined podcast. This is the podcast that follows up on topics from the Youtube channel undecided with Matt ferrell I’m sean ferrell I’m a writer I’m going to ask the questions of Matthew I’m his older brother so I get to tell him to do whatever I want.
Hello it works.
Matthew say hello see I told you before we get into the episode remember we have ways to directly support the podcast you can go to still tbd fm. There’s a link there that allows you to throw coins at us. There’s also the join button on Youtube in case, you’re there. And if you are there. You can see our faces. That’s how you know you’re there if you can’t see us. You’re probably listening to us somewhere else Today. We’re gonna be talking about Matt’s most recent episode this is revisiting the super capacitor. Wait for graphene is over finally just in time for the holidays case you were looking for that last minute gift. A big bag of graphene. Although that would technically it would technically be the equivalent of coal but it would also be very valuable.
It’s right everybody like some graphene for Christmas. Yes, yes, you’ve been a naughty boy here’s some graphene.
But it would also be very valuable. So I guess times earlier have turned and up is down black is white dogs are cats. That’s right this episode aired on december seventh 2021
It’s a twenty first century call.
Which means we are almost to the end of 2021 which seems impossible but what are you going to do. So this episode focused on revisiting right? there in the title revisiting the super capacitor this is something you’ve talked about you’ve touched on a couple of times but you did have 1 specific episode 2 years ago and again.
Time being a flat circle. It’s remarkable that it was 2 years that you first touched base on this issue right? And at the time it was viewed as this is promising and it’s.
Um, can’t believe him can’t believe I’ve been doing this this long.
It could change a lot of things and as you talk about there are a couple of companies that are now actively beginning to produce the first steps to commercially marketing actual product. So. We haven’t passed the threshold yet. But we are standing at the door of products being available that use this technology.
Yeah to clarifying that though there are companies that are putting out Graphene products that are really just marketing hype like there’s a pair of headphones that you can buy that are have graphene drivers in them and it’s like and all the testing that you know audio Files have done on these headphones. They actually sound awful and like all the marketing spin. It’s just like okay maybe they did put graphene in this but it didn’t make any kind of demonstrable Difference. They’re just using it for the marketing hype of having graphene in the product. So. It’s like this video is more about the we’re right at the doorstep of actual meaningful Graphene products starting to hit the market.
Um, for I.
Not the this battery has graphene but lasts just as long as other batteries. It’s like no, we’re we’re finally at a point now where there’s some materials starting to show up in the world that are going to start having an actual impact in production and use and this was 1 of the ones that caught my eye because it’s like I can’t remember the exact amount buttus but. Seventy percent higher performance than the previous version of the same exact product. So their non graphene product is at apples to apples comparison. It’s the same exact ultra capacitor from the same exact company. This 1 is the new graph curve graphene and this 1 ne’s the previous 1 and look at the difference between the 2 and it’s pretty dramatic. So. That’s part of why I wanted to talk about it because it’s it’s a real world product hitting the Market. So it’s it’s pretty cool.
And it seems like the first instance of this that we’re going to see are things that we are not going to see. We’re yeah we’re going to see it in the form of of trucks and trains and trams. Maybe yeah other.
Yeah, like like this it’s like you’re not going to see this in your daily life.
Wind turbines.
Wind turbines. It’s it’s going to be. It’s going to be as noticeable in your daily life as the updated traffic lights that have been put around on your city streets. You aren’t going to know unless you know that these new things.
Yeah, it’s like these? Yeah yeah, it’s these are the kind of things that kind of are the underlying glue of our society that we don’t even think about or know about it’s just making our electrical good grid work making the renewable energy from wind turbines work. It’s it’s That’s what this stuff is. It’s the glue.
Incorporate new things because why would you? Why would you? Why would you know about this.
And so it’s like it’s just updating those building blocks which should help reduce costs. It should help make them more efficient and so it’s like it’s gonna help things that we just aren’t aware. They’re even happening in the first place so it’s like this is still not products that we’re gonna like I can go to a store and buy it. That’s gonna be meaningful, but it’s it’s.
Um, right.
To me. It’s the first product that’s hit the market where it’s getting past the graphene hype where the graphene hype has been a huge problem because overpromising under-delivering and here’s the first actual thing that’s coming in that we can actually start to go. Okay now I can start to see how this is going to improve things.
And it you referred to the earphones. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if somebody discovered that they could trademark a brand name that incorporated Graphene like Graphene turbo without it actually having the way that trademarks work in the Us. Um.
And I believe worldwide it’s largely the same in many countries. There’s a lot of garbage that can get through just because the rules are so old and so you’re able to trademark things that don’t actually make sense. You’re able to patent things that already exist.
There’s a lot of there’s a lot of loopholes that people can take advantage of and if they have a really good legal team that knows the ins and out of all that it’s entirely possible if there’s not an ounce of Graphene anywhere in some of the products that are actually marketing themselves as Graphene products if it is just a brand name. So.
Exactly yeah.
When you look at at something marketing itself as Graphene you should really question I would think why do I care so deeply about the idea of Graphene in this thing.
Right? It it comes under the user experience. What are you getting out of this. Oh this battery lasts thirty thirty percent longer. Okay, there’s the thing that’s going to make a difference. It’s like this super capacitor lasts how much longer it’s like it’s it’s that kind of thing that we have to look at look past the marketing hype and and look at the end results.
Um, right.
And costs and the user experience and everything that goes around. It is the most important part.
Um, I really enjoyed the interview that you conducted with Dr. pullman he seemed like my first response was my god he’s incredibly young.
I’ve reached that age where I’ve I’ve crossed over the hump of the Hill and I’m on the downward slope now and occasionally I hear I hear voices of of knowledge and expertise behind me of those people who are still climbing the Hill and I look back and I think oh.
God they’re catching up and Dr. Pullman was 1 of those god bless him I’m glad he’s doing this work. He seems to really know what he’s talking about and he was very clear in being able to convey some of these complicated ideas and 1 of the things that stood out to me and you included it in the video I think for this reason. Is it underlines something you’ve talked about in previous videos which is we talk about these things and we see these advances obviously very early in testing stages and in lab environments and it is very tricky to get out of the lab and get into. Production that seemed to be the biggest thing that he was pushing in this moment and what really stood out was him saying I’m not saying it’s easy I’m saying it’s easier getting past that first step of you’ve been able to create I believe he said you’ve been able to. To successfully manufacture a gram of this material over and over and over now you want to make a kilogram and it’s not working and you need to figure out why and then once you get past that first hump it starts to get easier from that step from that place forward I thought that it was.
Very it struck me as very important to hear somebody who literally has a hand on the lever making these things to say that because as you pointed out the headlines.
Reporters write an article an editor who is now taking secondhand information create’s a headline that may even be adjusted further down the editorial path and then you get a headline that says graphene’s going to change everything by wednesday.
Um, it’s setting false expectations about all of this and it’s like elon musk has talked about how it’s easy to come up. It’s easy to come up with the breakthrough idea. It’s hard to take that idea into full production. It’s like that’s where ideas kind of go to die. That’s. Actually scaling that up and when tesla was going through their what they called production hell during the model 3 ramp up their new batteries that they had been creating the amount of batteries that were failing testing now I don’t quote me on this exact number but it was. Really high like you know like forty percent of the batteries were just like not passing tests so it’s like if you have that much waste being created by your process. It makes your process crazy expensive and so it’s like yeah until you start perfecting that and getting it to seventy percent are passing quality assurance 80 percent ninety percent are. Passing quality assurance. It’s like that’s when the prices start to drop and that’s exactly the challenge that Dr. pullman was kind of tapping into of you know mass production of curved graphene the way that they designed it was really hard to scale that up and to do it in a cost effective way and they’re still doing it. They’re not They’re not done perfecting that process and I hope that came through in the the interview because this this coming year twenty twenty 2 the product is real. It’s on the Market. They’re actually manufacturing those ultra capacitors now and they’re giving them to partners to integrate into their workflow and their products. To test it and give feedback and they’re having this back and forth with their partners on these ultra capacitors and then by the end of the year they will hope hopefully scaled up their graph curve graphene production and perfected some of the processes with their partners so that they will be be producing these more at scale and then it will become widely available to whoever wants them. So it’s like it’s basically a private production for partners and then it will become public within probably about the next year so it’s it’s still even though it’s a real product. It’s still early days for that real product.
It’s also this product is the kind of thing that its emergence on the market when it’s happening is important for infrastructure development around the world and here in the us we’re dealing with with infrastructure. Um. Investment thanks to recent bills that have passed to actually pump money into refurbishing things like bridges and highways and and in improving, environmentally friendly and renewable energy use but something like this which is simply if you retrofitted. Let’s say new york city’s subways to include these super capacitors in the train to reclaim some of that energy the idea that thirty percent he he mentioned in his discussion of this that these super capacitors have the ability to reclaim thirty percent of breaking energy. The idea of the cost savings to those of us who live in cities with Subway systems that would potentially be able to harness this. This is the kind of back ground infrastructure that we’re talking about could be impacted by this That’s why this is that’s where this is going to hit your life. The fact that. The mta will not raise the rates on ridership again in the next year potentially because if they put something like this on the trains. It could lower costs overall for them. So that’s what we’re talking about some viewer comments that stood out for me included. Those like this 1 from Peter schmidt like others have pointed out using this tech for Regen breaking is the better goal in mind a lot of energy is wasted in rejoin breaking because you can’t charge the battery quickly enough but to capture all that energy and ultra capacitor and then release that energy to accelerate would make a pretty dramatic. In range then the battery can just be used for cruising and operating all the instruments so something like putting it into a he seems to be talking about potentially electric vehicles like the tesla.
Um, yes, exactly when it comes to evs though I actually talked about this in the comments with a few viewers part of the reason you don’t see that evs is it adds complexity to the design of the vehicle where lithium the lithium ion battery battery. Battery packs are already good enough and they’re kind of they’re they’re addressing. Basically what the car needs to do today. So adding this isn’t necessarily going to decrease costs and so it’s like when you’re talking about trying to make electric vehicles as cost-effective as possible to get them more. People’s hands and make them cheaper than gasoline cars. Which is what Tesla’s focused on which is what vw is focused on it’s like they’re not going to make their vehicles more complex to add in systems like this necessarily on this unless they can see a reduced production cost and they can see a reduced cost for the consumers and a demonstrable benefit to making that complexity. Um, adding that complexity to the manufacturing process. That’s part of the reason why you’re not going to see tesla doing this in my opinion they bought maxwell technologies which is another super capacitor company and they bought it years ago and they still haven’t integrated them into their teslas for this exact reason it would just add complexity and you’re not really getting a huge benefit out of it. Compared to what they’re able to do today for less money. So it’s it’s 1 of those. It’s the whole user experience. So yes, it can recover more energy from the breaking. But then what’s the overall costs of the system. What’s the complexity to it. What’s the quality assurance. What’s the user experience. It’s like it’s all of that. So.
Um, yeah.
Um, sure.
There’s also been the inclusion of of volvo in its announcement of going fully electric I believe they said by 2030 which seems remarkably near considering you know that we’re almost to 2022 um
That’s probably why you’re not saying it. And.
But it strikes me that perhaps the capacitor wouldn’t be used in smaller electric vehicles. But it does seem like it would have a place in larger electric vehicles like trucks and buses where you would have more yeah and and trains where you have more of a mass where breaking becomes more of an energy consumption than it would in a car.
Think about think about how long it takes for a train to slow down imagine being able to capture all that energy as it’s trying to slow down into capacitors and batteries and things like that you could really recover a lot of energy.
There was this comment from I am future trunks. Very interesting username trunks trunks wrote I remember years ago when there was talk of having cylinder type batteries with graphite used instead of it used the size of double a batteries. But being able to store like 5 to 10 times the amount of power regular battery can the only problem they were saying back then was there was no way to mass produce the graphite this reminded me of that and how I’m still waiting on those grape batteries that can store weightmamor power the current batteries we have these days still stink. And until we get better energy storage for long term. We will be reliant on fossil fuels which as he says stinks. Um I think that everything I get from this video is that we’re going to continue to wait for those more efficient batteries to hit the market.
This is.
Um, like we’ve been talking about the the kinds of advancements that are going to happen in the next 2 years or so will probably be very background and we’re not going to be seeing those graphene batteries hitting the market and if you see that on a package and it’s not. From a reputable brand like you’re not seeing duriscell you’re not seeing energizer you’re seeing you know gogo batteries with now with graphene you might want to say hm I’m going to go go over to the other section where they have the dura cells there was this for mark oakley. I’d love I’d love to see some use case specifics like how long can a smartphone run on a super capacitor the same size as a lithium ion here’s where I already can hear Matt shaking his head. This is not where we’re going to see that used.
You’ll never see this in a computer you’ll never see this in a phone. It’s like that capacitors and batteries are 2 very different use cases capacitors are like short term high power need so you have a huge s speck of energy. You need it basically can release that energy virtually all at once and it can take all that energy almost at once. Batteries long-term energy storage where it’s like if you want to run a phone for 24 hours like we do with our phones today you need ah a battery, not a capacitor. So. It’s like they’re very very different use cases. So these these capacitors are inching their way closer and closer to what a battery kind of. Was if you found we wound a little bit but batteries are advancing so far beyond that it’s kind of like they’re kind of not exactly keeping pace. But it’s like capacitors are becoming more like weaker batteries and then batteries are becoming really intense for how much energy they can store.
Right? right.
And then there’s questions about how far batteries can go before they become just completely insane and dangerous with how much capacity and danger we’re packing into such a small little thing So there’s.
Yeah, it strikes me that we have a we have groups of energy production energy storage and at any energy release technologies and that we’ve kind of shifted the set that we’re reliant on from 1 initial set which relied on burning a fossil fuel and batteries as the short-term solution in in many cases. It’s now redistributed so that it’s a lot more long-term consistent. Release which includes batteries and things like solar wind power water and that the capacitor has you talked about it in your in your video take a solar field take a a field of wind turbines. As.
Dr. Pullman talked about if you have nothing but 1 hundred percent of that then the moment the sun goes down your energy use becomes a problem because if you are 1 hundred percent relying on solar and the sun goes down. Where are you going to manage those spikes from you don’t have the ability to produce more energy because the sun is down where does your energy come From. It would come from an accompanying farm of these capacitors that would have taken in a charge during the day when the solar was producing its maximum yield. And was not being fully utilized by consumers that charge goes into that field of super capacitors and then in the evening the sun goes down, you get that spike in usage and now these capacitors quickly just release that energy into the market and allow the. Energy consumption to be met by Supply. It’s not like a battery which if you put all of that energy from the solar field into a battery The release would not be fast enough have I kind of encapsulated the issue. Yeah.
in in theory yes in theory it’s like it depends on how you’ve designed the battery system. So it’s like you could imagine like a massive battery grid scale energy storage with a smaller like capacitor system right alongside of it and the 2 of those work in tandem so that.
Um, right.
You can handle sudden increased spikes through the capacitors but the batteries are there almost like a baseload energy plant this kind of like they can react quickly but not with as much power. So if you need a sudden burst of power. The capacitorors is can help give you that and skeleton technologies I remember it was a couple years ago fully charged put out a video. Showing a stadium I can’t remember what city it was in I think it may have been in Poland there was a stadium that used a Skeleton capacitor system in the stadium for like you flip all the lights on and you’re flipping everything on in the Stadium. There’s this crazy spike before things kind of settle down and this capacitor system handles the huge spike. Before everything kind of levels off so it’s like there’s there’s different reasons why you’d want to use this in different use cases. So it’s it’s I don’t Dr. pullman said to me point blank this is not going to replace batteries period. It’s going to be adjacent to batteries. It’s going to be a partner with Batteries. Um. It has it solves a problem that batteries can’t necessarily solve by themselves.
All very interesting stuff and again I appreciated Dr Pullman’s time spent with you in talking about this I’m curious from the listeners. What do you think about all of this. It’s a lot of new stuff and do you see any other background places that this might pop up.
He was great. He’s great. He’s great.
Kinds of things where you wouldn’t necessarily as a consumer as an individual feel like oh I’m definitely benefiting from this technology. But if you really kind of like looked under the hood. What are some other cases where you think you’d be like oh this is a place where that might actually make sense. Let us know what you think in the comments. You can find our contact information in the podcast description or on youtube you can just scroll right down to the comments while you’re doing all that please do subscribe please do like the video or the episode. Don’t forget we have ways to directly support the podcast. There’s still tbd. Fm. And you can throw coins at our heads or if you’re on youtube and actually looking at our heads right now you can just scroll down to the join button please be sure to give us a rating a review share us with your friends all of that really does help the podcast. The podcast helps the channel the channel helps Matthew and then Matthew. Gives me a capacity for Christmas Thanks Matt we’ll talk to you later have a good 1.
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