Technology Day 2019: MIT on Climate Change - Donald Sadoway - Lake Harding Association

Technology Day 2019: MIT on Climate Change – Donald Sadoway

Technology Day 2019: MIT on Climate Change – Donald Sadoway

By Micah Moen 13 Comments October 9, 2019


>>Hi, I’m Whitney Espich, the CEO
of the MIT Alumni Association. and I hope you enjoy this digital production
created for alumni and friends like you.>>GOOD MORNING. I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE THEME
OF TODAY’S SECTION. MIT ON CLIMATE CHANGE AND I
SUBJECT IT TACKLING THE BIG PROBLEM AND I WANT TO GIVE YOU
TWO VIGNETTES. TACKLING BIG PROBLEMS IN ENERGY
AND THE OTHER IN MANUFACTURING AND IT IS GOING TO BE A FLY-BY
BECAUSE WE WANT TO KEEP TIME. FIRST ONE IS ELECTRICITY. IT’S ABOUT THE AMOUNT. TO EVERYTHING WE VALUE IN THE
21ST CENTURY IS PREDICATED ON THE AVAILABILITY OF ELECTRICITY. WHERE YOU SEE LIGHT YOU SEE THE
MODERN WORLD AND WHERE YOU DON’T THERE’S ONE OF TWO CONDITIONS
EITHER NOBODY LIVES THERE OR IT HAS NOT BEEN ELECTRIFYING AND IF
IT HASN’T THERE’S NO MORE PRECIOUS GIFT YOU CAN GIVE THOSE
PEOPLE THAN ELECTRICITY AND ACCESS TO IT. BUT WE WANT SUSTAINABLE
ELECTRICITY. AND THAT’S GOING TO BE CARBON
FREE GENERATION. WIND SOLAR BUT THEY’RE
INTERMITTENT AND THEY’RE INCAPABLE OF BEING BASE LOAD
FULLY INTEGRATED. STATIONARY STORAGE IS KEY. WITHOUT THAT WE CANNOT DRAW
ELECTRICITY FROM THE SUN WHEN THE SUN DOES NOT SHINE, BUT IT’S
VERY DIFFICULT. IT HAS TO HAVE SUPER LONG
SERVICE LIFETIME NOT LIKE THREE YEARS AND FIVE YEARS. LITHIUM EYE ON ON THE GRID HAS
NEVER BEEN DEMONSTRATED. SAFE. YOU CAN’T HAVE FIRES. FIRE IN A PHONE IS ONE THING BUT
A FIRE NA TEN MEGA WATT HOUR STORAGE FACILITY IS SOMETHING
YOU DON’T WANT TO SEE. OPERATIONAL FLEXIBLE HAS TO DO
EVERYTHING FROM SPRINT TO MARATHON. FREQUENCY AND SHORT DURATION. OVERNIGHT, LONG DURATION. SINGLE BATTERY HAS TO DO ALL OF
THIS. YOU DON’T HAVE BATTERY THAT RUNS
THE HEARING AID RUN AN ELECTRIC CAR. THIS HAS TO DO EVERYTHING AND
HAS TO GO AT SUPER LOW COSTS AND HAS TO BE ALL OF THESE. I CAN GIVE YOU THE TOP THREE
RIGHT NOW TO GET A PRICE POINT BUT WHEN YOU SAY LOW COST THAT’S
A DIFFERENT MATTER. ALRIGHT? SO WHEN I STARTED MY WORK,
BECAUSE IT HAD TO BE LOW COST I FLIPPED THE PARADIGM. THE PARADIGM FOR RESEARCH IN THE
UNIVERSITY IS INVENT THE COOLEST CHEMISTRY. GET THE HIGH IMPACT JOURNAL
PUBLICATION AND MAYBE THERE’S A START UP COMPANY IN THERE AND
THOSE GUYS WILL CHASE THE COST CURB. HERE YOUR ARE UP AGAINST
ENTRENCHED INCUMBENT AND YOU HAVE TO THINK ABOUT COST ON DAY
ONE NOT DAY 1001. SO I MADE COST AT THE BEGINNING
ALLOWED SAID IT’S NOT BATTERY VERSES BATTERY. THERE’S NO BATTERIES ON THE GRID
DEPLOYED UNLESS THEY’RE HEAVILY SUBSIDIZED SO WE COMPETE AGAINST
HYDRO CARBONS. THERE’S VAST SWATH OF THE
PERIODIC TABLE I WON’T ALLOW MY STUDENTS TO TOUCH BECAUSE I
DON’T CARE. IF YOU MAKE A BATTERY OUT OF
THAT STUFF IT WON’T SCALE SO DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME. I SAY IF YOU WANT TO MAKE
SOMETHING DIRT CHEAP, MAKE IT OUT OF DIRT. [APPLAUSE]
>>AND MAKE IT LOCAL DIRT. [LAUGHTER] BECAUSE THAT WAY YOU
GOT A SECURE SUPPLY CHAIN. MAKES NO SENSE TO TRADE ON
IMPORTED PETROLEUM. AND MAKE IT EASY TO MANUFACTURE. BATTERY PLANT. LITHIUM ION BATTERY BECAUSE IT
COSTS FIVE GIGA DOLLARS. MAKE IT SIMPLE AND PRIMITIVE. DESIGN AT THE DISCOVERY STAGE. POSE THE RIGHT QUESTION. I DID NOT SAY HOW DID I INVENT A
BIG BATTERY. I SAID COLOSSAL STORAGE DEVICE
AND DIDN’T SPECIFY FORM. MY COLLEAGUES ARE TRYING TO TAKE
THE BATTERY HERE AND MAKE IT THE SIZE OF THIS ROOM. I DIDN’T START WITH THAT. BUT I HAVE AN OPEN BEHIND. AND BY THE WAY, DO NOT SPEAK TO
THE INCUMBENTS. DISREGARD THE CONVENTIONAL
WISDOM. YOU’RE NOT GOING TO GET TO
BRILLIANT RADICAL INNOVATIONS IF YOU CONSULT WITH INCUMBENTS. SO I TOOK MY INSPIRATION FROM
OUTSIDE THE FIELD OF STORAGE AND I DO ELECTRIC CHEMISTRY. ALUMINUM AND HIGH TEMPERATURES. HERE AS MODERN ALUMINUM SMELTER
ABOUT 100 FEET FROM LEFT TO RIGHT THAT GOES BACK PROBABLY A
MILE. PRODUCING ALUM NEW MEXICO 24/7
PROBABLY 500,000 AMPS PER VOLTS. THAT’S TWO GIGA WATTS AND I
LOOKED A THE IT AND I SAID HMM… IT TRAVELS IN HUGE
AMOUNTS OF ELECTRICITY AND OPERATES CHEAPLY. IF I CAN MAKE IT NOT TO CONSUME
BUT STORE ELECTRICITY I WILL HAVE SOMETHING BIG AND CHEAP SO
I STARTED WITH SOMETHING THAT’S BIG AND OPERATES WITH HUGE
AMOUNTS OF ELECTRICITY AND SAID I’M GOING TO TEACH IT HOW TO
STORE. EVERYBODY STARTS WITH STORE AND
TRY TO MAKE IT BIG. WE’LL SEE WHO GETS THERE. SO THIS IS INVENTION. LIQUID METAL BATTERY. ON TOP AND MOLTEN SALT IN
BETWEEN AND LIQUID METAL ON BOTTOM. THIS IN SOLUBLE AND MOLTEN SALT
IS IN SOME WOBBLE IT SO THESE THREE LAYERS LION EACH OTHER BY
DENSITY. ON DISCHARGE THE MAGNESIUM WANT
TO ALLOY WITH THE ALIMONY BUT IT’S IN SOLUBLE BUT IF IT
IONIZING IT CAN GO SO IT SENDS THE ELECTRONS THROUGH THE
EXTERNAL CIRCUIT AND THE MAGNESIUM GOES DOWN TO THIS AND
HAS TO COME OUT OF THE SALT AND REQUIRES TWO ELECTRONS AND
BECOMES A NEUTRAL AND THE ELECTRONS HAVE GONE THROUGH THE
EXTERNAL CIRCUIT. WHEN THE CURRENT PASSES IT
GENERATES HEAT AND THAT’S THE THREAT IN THE BATTERY. HERE I CAPTURE THAT HEAT AND I
USE THAT HEAT TO KEEP THIS THING AT TEMPERATURE. NOW TO RECHARGE THE BATTERY I
FORCE CURRENT THROUGH IT AND SEND THE MAGNESIUM TO THE TOP SO
I’M PURIFICATION AND MAKING PURE MAGNESIUM ON THE STOP RESTORING
THE BATTERY TO IT’S PRISTINE STATE AND THAT’S IT. THERE’S A LOT TO THIS BUT I
DON’T HAVE THE TIME. [LAUGHTER] I DO WANT TO SAY THAT
THIS IS NOT JUST COOK AND LOOK. I MEAN PEOPLE LOOK AT THIS AND
SAY EW THIS IS HEAVY INDUSTRY. YES IT IS. THAT’S WHERE THE SOLUTIONS TO
THE CLIMATE PROBLEMS LIE. I DON’T WORK IN NANO. IT’S TOO SMALL. [LAUGHTER] I DON’T WANT TENS OF
ATOMS I WANT TONS OF ATOMS. MY STUDENTS ARE ALSO CONDUCTING
SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH. THIS IS ONE OF OUR PAPERS. IN NATURE ARGUABLY THE PREMIER
SCIENTIFIC JOURNAL IN THE WORLD SO THIS IS GOING TOGETHER SO
THERE’S THE OPPORTUNITY FOR GOOD SCIENCE AND LIVING IN HARMONY
WITH HEAVY INDUSTRY. ALRIGHT. START UP TIME. I DID NOT WANT A START UP
COMPANY BUT TWO STUDENTS SAID WE HAVE TO HAVE A START UP AND I
SAID I DON’T WANT TO DEAL WITH MONEY STUFF AND THEY SAID DO YOU
WANT TO IMPACT SOCIETY? SCIENCE AND SERVICE TO SOCIETY. THAT’S WHY WE HAVE A COMPANY. PAPER IN NATURE DOESN’T MAKE THE
WORLD A BETTER PLACE IT’S JUST A START. YOU HAVE TO GET THE TECHNOLOGY
OUT THERE. SO ALL THE CATCHY NAMES WERE
TAKEN AND WE HAD THE LIQUID METAL BATTERY CORPORATION AS OUR
NAME. THIS TERRIBLE NAME. WE THOUGHT ABOUT IT AND SOMEBODY
SAID, CISCO SYSTEMS WAS NAMED BECAUSE IT WAS FOUNDED IN SAN
FRANCISCO AND I SAID WE FOUNDED THE BATTERY HERE IN CAMBRIDGE SO
I GOT THE NAME AMBERY BECAUSE IT CAME FROM MIT AND IT WAS STILL
AVAILABLE SO THAT WAS ASSIGN. SERIES A FUNDING. BILL GATES. NOW I’M FROM CANADA. I WOULD NOT
DARE GO TO BILL GATES. HE CAME TO ME? WHY? IT’S AN MIT STORY. YOU’LL LOVE THIS. YEARS I WAS TEACHING 3091
INTRODUCTION TO SOLID STATE CHEMISTRY
[APPLAUSE] YES.
AND IT WITH US PUT ON. IT GOT PUT ON OPEN COURSE WARE
AND SOMEWHERE AROUND 2005 BILL STARTED WATCHING MY CHEMISTRY
LECTURES. ALL OF THEM. WATCHED THEM ALL EVERY YEAR AND
I’M NOT MAKING THIS UP. IN AUGUST OF 2009, I GOT AN
E-MAIL FROM A WOMAN THAT SAID SHE WAS EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT AND
HE WAS COMING TO BOSTON AT THE END OF THE SEPTEMBER MONTH AND
HE WANTED TO MEET WITH ME, WOULD I HAVE 90 MINUTES? [LAUGHTER] I IGNORED THE E-MAIL. [LAUGHTER]
WHY? BECAUSE I THOUGHT THE STUDENTS
HAD HACKED INTO MY ACCOUNT. [LAUGHTER]
SO ABOUT TEN DAYS LATER SHE WRITES AGAIN AND SAID MAYBE YOU
DIDN’T SEE BUT MR. GATES WANTS
TO MEET YOU. I SHOWED THE THING TO A FEW
PEOPLE AND THEY SAID, I THINK THIS IS REAL SO I SAID, OKAY
FINE. I’LL MEET HIM. IT WAS A FRIDAY AND I JUST
FINISHED TEACHING AN WE SAT FOR 90 MINUTES AND CHATTED. HE WAS REALLY FOCUSED. TALKED ABOUT THE LECTURES AND
CRITICIZED SOME OF THE CAMERA WORK. [LAUGHTER] TALKED ABOUT
COMPUTERS AND DISTANCE LEARNING AND ALL THIS STUFF AND TOWARDS
THE END HE SAID WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON? THIS WAS 2009 I HAD NO RESULTS
YET AND I SKETCHED OUT THIS CONCEPT OF LIQUID METAL BATTERY
AND HE SAID, THAT’S INTERESTING. IF YOU EVER DECIDED TO SPIN THAT
OUT I WOULD BE WILLING TO PUT MONEY IN AND A YEAR LATER MY
STUDENTS APPROACHED HIM AND HE BECAME OUR FIRST INVESTOR SO I
MET HIM NOT BECAUSE I WROTE A DYNAMITE OPINION PIECE IN THE
“WALL STREET JOURNAL” BUT I TAUGHT FRESHMAN CHEMISTRY AT MIT
AND THAT’S WHY I MET BILL GATES. [APPLAUSE]
AND NOW THE OTHER ONE INVESTOR JUST JOINED THE ENERGY
INITIATIVE. BIG. ONE OF THE MAJORS. PETROLEUM COMPANY THINKING ABOUT
30 YEARS AHEAD AND THEY WANTED TO INVEST AND THEY WERE BUYING
SUN POWER AND KNEW THAT SOLAR WITHOUT STORAGE WAS INCOMPLETE
AND LOOKED FOR SOMETHING RADICAL AND THEY SAID, THIS LIQUID METAL
BAT SORRY DIFFERENT SO THAT’S HOW WE GET STARTED. OKAY. AND I’LL JUST SHOW YOU ONE
THING. THIS FOUR AND A HALF YEARS A THE
TEMPERATURES. 5,000 CYCLES. FULL DISCHARGE CYCLES THAT’S
LIKE 13 YEARS IF YOU DID IT ONCE A DIE AND HERE IT IS AFTER 4,000
CYCLES STILL RETAINING 99 PERCENT CAPACITY. [APPLAUSE]
OKAY. WE GOT TO KEEP MOVING AND NOW
I’LL GO TO MANUFACTURING SO FEW FUN FACTS ABOUT STEAL. HAS YEAR 1.8 BILLION TONS OF NEW
METAL THAT’S UP 2 X FROM 20 YEARS AGO AND 10 TIMES FROM
1950. AND WHEN STEAL IS MADE IT REACTS
WITH CARBON AND THAT GENERATED THREE GIGA TONS OF CO2 THAT
REPRESENTS 9 PERCENT OF TOTAL CO2. NOT 9% TO MANUFACTURING OR FROM
IT, 9 PERCENT OF THAT CAME FROM WORLD STEEL BIG. BLAST FURNACE THE HEART TO MAKE
A TON OF IRON YOU NEED OVER A TON OF IRON OXIDE AS IRON OR AND
THEN THREE TONS OF COAL AND YOU HAVE TO THROW IN LIMESTONE AS
FLUX. ALRIGHT. SO I STARTED THINK ABOUT THIS
ABOUT 25 YEARS AGO. IT’S BEEN A LONG JOURNEY. LITTLE BY LITTLE TRYING TO GET
FUNDING AND SO ON BUT I’M PERSISTENT. SO I KNOW THERE’S A NATURE IN
OXIDE. ELECTRONS CAN BE PRODUCED
SUSTAINABILITY AND THAT DISSOLVES I GOT THAT FROM
TEACHING 3091. ALRIGHT? AND SO I CONCEIVE AND MOLTEN
DETROLYSIS. AND IT WILL TAKE THE FLUX AND
THE ELECTRON WILL PRODUCE ELECTROLYSIS AND WE’LL HAVE A
RADICAL FORM OF THAT AND PRODUCE OXYGEN AS THE BY PRODUCT. THERE’S THE CELL AND THE TOP
THERE IRON OXIDE IN THE ELECTROLYTE AND MAKES LIQUID AND
OXYGEN GAS OFF THE TOP AND THAT MEANS THAT WE REPLACE THE BASIC
OXYGEN FURNACE WITH ELECTROLYSIS AND DON’T NEED IRON PEPTIDES OR
DON’T NEED THE COLE INJECTION OR THE LIMESTONE SO THIS WILL BE A
LOT CHEAPER. BETTER METAL AND CHEAPER. NOT BETTER METAL AT A PREMIUM. NOBODY PAYS THAT THE FOR GREEN
BECAUSE THAT’S THE THING WE GOT TO MAKE IT BETTER AND IT SCALES
AT MUCH LOWER TONS. SO WE’RE IN THE BASEMENT OF
BUILDING FOUR AND THIS FURNACE IS RUNNING ABOUT 1600 DEGREES
AND SO ON, AND HERE WE ARE LOOKING DOWN AND YOU’LL SEE GAS
COMING OFF THIS AT THE TOP AND THEN MAKING A LIQUID IRON ON THE
BOTTOM. THEN CAME THE DISCOVERY OF A
PRACTICAL ALLOY THAT PASS INVESTIGATES AND NOW WE HAVE
THESE AND THERE’S A PAPER IN NATURES ON THIS. NATURE PUBLISHES ONE PAPER PER
YEAR IN THE AREA OF EXTRACTED METAL. IT’S NOT. SO WE START ANOTHER COMPANY. BOSTON METAL. AND OKAY. JUMP THROUGH THESE. THESE FOR PEOPLE THAT SPONSORED
US. WE JUST FINISHED THE SERIES
INCLUDING MIT ENGINE BUT HERE’S THE COOL STUFF. THIS THE REACTOR HERE. THIS IS ABOUT A METER IN
DIAMETER AND WE’RE TAPPING MOLTEN IRON AT 1600 DEGREES C
WHILE CURRENT IS STILL FLOWING SO THIS IS DONE. THIS IS REAL. MOLTEN ELECTROLYSIS HAS ARRIVED. [APPLAUSE]
WE’VE ALSO PRODUCED NICKEL FROM NICKEL OXIDE AND PUT CHROMIUM
OXIDE IN AND REDUCED TO CHROMIUM. IT MELTS A THE 1900 DEGREES
THAT’S A LITTLE HIGH SO WE USED IRON AS THE HOST AND TOOK
CHROMIUM OXIDE AND MADE CARBON FREE CHROMIUM SO NOW I’VE SHOWN
YOU I CAN MAKE IRON, NICKEL AND CHROMIUM AND THAT MEANS I CAN
MAKE STAINLESS STEAL STEEL WE TOOK OXIDE AND WENT TO LIQUID
TITANIUM. IT MELTS AT ABOUT JUST UNDER
1700 THAT’S DOABLE. YEAH. THERE WE ARE. SO WHAT I’VE SHOWN YOU HERE. SO I’VE SHOWN YOU TWO EXAMPLES
OF TACKLING BIG PROBLEMS AND HOW YOU TAKE FUNDAMENTAL SCIENCE AND
THINK ABOUT SCALE. SCALE, COST AND SO ON.
AND I’LL CLOSE WITH WHAT I URGED OF MY STUDENTS. THIS IS FROM PARIS, 1968. BE REALISTIC. ASK FOR THE IMPOSSIBLE. AND YOU KNOW, SOMETIMES WHEN
YOU’RE AT MIT, WITH ENOUGH INGENUITY, THE IMPOSSIBLE
SOMETIMES BECOMES THE INEVITABLE. [APPLAUSE]
>>Thanks for joining us. And for more information on how
to connect with the MIT Alumni Association, please
visit our website.

13 Comments found

User

pippaknuckle

This deserves millions of views. This man is so important to our future.

Reply
User

UnTiedMusicStudio

I'd sure hate to be the next speaker on the docket!!
Just bloody genius work.

Reply
User

Matt Mo

Even if one is critical about the dire predictions on climate change, … this presentation about better, cheaper storage is purely good. Deserves much attention, and may provide a bridge to cure one of the key inefficiencies of renewable energies. Congratulations!

Reply
User

Rick Deckard

I know nothing about chemistry but I loved this talk.

Reply
User

Aindre Reece-Sheerin

When is what everyone really wants to know?

Reply
User

brother gamer

Aqion made their batteries out of dirt but they weren't cheap. Why???

Reply
User

fancy O

I am waiting for the actual production of the battery/storage. I swear if I had money I'd be one of his investors.

Reply
User

TMB247

I Love Hydrocarbons! They are Dirt! (Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust)

Reply
User

jooky87

Where is that electricity coming from?

Reply
User

Rudy Tovar

Lithium on a Grid has been Demonstrated in Australia, Hawaii, and a few other locations… hasn't it? Didn't Elon Musk do this, or did he use some other type of storage device?

Reply
User

Mark Brand

"Lithium ion on the grid has never been demonstrated." What about the Tesla pack in Australia?

Reply
User

Leoninmiami

Why do we need this battery? Does this mean that existing technology (this battery aside) cannot provide renewable energy for the world?

Reply
User

Frank RenewablesCheap

He is quite the salesman. On the battery front, the only thing he demonstrated was many cycles, which is great, but there is cost, which is a goal, but not demonstrated. What is the round trip efficiency? Are there losses if it is sitting? How much? Remember, LiIon costs are dropping every year, so the costs they need to hit are moving a lot.

I have heard of reducing iron ore with hydrogen, instead of coke, but never straight electricity. Is that cheaper than hydrogen? How expensive is the equipment? Because with a lot of RE generation, there will be times when there is over production. If you can afford to let the equipment sit, and you can use a lot of power, you will be able to get cheap electricity. It's dispatchable demand. And it would help RE get built, because it puts a floor on electricity prices. No curtailment. No wasting of electricity.

Reply

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *