As production of lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) scales up, costs will fall to the levels of the materials involved. The cheapest material that still works well to hold energy in LIBs is sulfur. Today I talk with someone working on lithium-sulfur batteries about their remaining engineering challenges & enormous market potential.
I enjoyed this episode and seeing an alternative pathway to a cheaper battery.
I was a bit underwhelmed by her argument that it'll be impossible to push mining costs for cobalt and other minerals down. My ignorant, neoliberal assumption when I hear that child labor is being employed that the current industry is under-capitalized and progress can be made.
Maybe you have covered this in an episode I missed, but I'd love to hear more about the constraints here. Are there just fee places where these minerals are in the rock? Or is it more like oil circa 2007, where if you looked at historical production figures you could make a 'peak oil' case, but then it turns our 'reserves' is an economic measurement and not a physical fact, and a change in technology like fracking can unlock potential that was there all along? And if that's the case, is anyone working on mining in a more economical and environmentally just way?
Good pod, loved the technical content. Her take on EVs in their current state was a little dim compared with what I see.
I was left wondering why shoot for the moon on both cathodes and anodes? Get the cathode right, declare victory and start collecting your payoff. Make the anode your 2nd act.
I think it's going to be very hard to beat lithium ion, but I have huge respect for the smart people working on alternatives. And if the sulfur batteries work out, they're theoretically incredible.