Still To Be Determined

Matt and Sean discuss carrying a sunburn in a bottle… oh and it’s an energy storage solution as well. Discussing a recent scientific advance that could allow us to store solar energy directly into a liquid for up to 18 years.

Show Notes

Matt and Sean discuss carrying a sunburn in a bottle… oh and it’s an energy storage solution as well. Discussing a recent scientific advance that could allow us to store solar energy directly into a liquid for up to 18 years. 

Watch the Undecided with Matt Ferrell episode, “Why This Liquid That Stores Solar Energy for Years Matters”:

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What is Still To Be Determined?

Join Matt Ferrell from the YouTube Channel, Undecided, and his brother Sean Ferrell as they discuss electric vehicles, renewable energy, smart technologies, and how they impact our lives. Still TBD continues the conversation from the Undecided YouTube channel.

Hi, everybody on today's episode of still to be determined, we're gonna be talking about a liquid sunburn. That's right. carry that burn in a bottle as usual. I'm Sean Farrell. I write some sci-fi. I write some stuff for kids, and I'm also curious about tech development and evolution. And luckily for me, my brother is Matt Farrell of undecided with Matt Farrell.

You know him, you love. Admit it seriously, admit it. Go into the comments and admit it. Say, I admit, I love Sean Farrell. I mean, Matt Farrell, you can throw me in there too, if you like. so how you doing Matt? I'm doing pretty

well. It's a little hot, but I'm doing well. Well,

hot is the key word for today's episode.

It is hot. We, yeah, just yesterday. My girlfriend said. Oh, the good news is that we are, as of tomorrow, officially going to be quote out of the heat wave, which means it's only gonna be 90. Yeah. Like, oh, that's that's good news question mark. The heat wave broke. Yeah. Question mark. Yeah, it's been pretty, pretty warm here in New York city.

I went out for dinner yesterday with my girlfriend and my son and. Both my son and I looked at each other as we were putting on our shoes, because our shoes, we leave them outside the outside door of our apartment. They're in the hallway of the apartment building. We have a little shoe rack there. And as we were putting them on, I said, it's a little disturbing to put on shoes.

I haven't worn all day. And they are warm.

kind of gross. Yes. It was pretty disgusting. It felt a little bit like somebody with a fever had just taken them off. Huh? So it's apropo for today's episode, because we're gonna be talking about, we're talking about a heat wave. We're talking about all that heat that is generated by the sun. And if only there was some way to take that heat, capture it.

Yes, yes. And put it into liquid form. What does that even make sense? Well, it does. We're talking about Matt's most recent episode. This is why this liquid, that stores solar energy for years matters. This episode dropped on August 2nd, 2022. That's right. I actually know the date of this episode without hesitation.

Why is that? Because the dates are back on the videos, get to actually tweeted at YouTube that it's dumb to remove dates from the videos. Yeah. And YouTube tweeted. YouTube tweeted back. Are you talking about, on other people's videos or on your videos? Because there's a bug quote, unquote, there's a bug.

Yeah, sure. It's a bug. Yeah. I, I will. I don't feel like I'm going too far on a limb to say I don't believe it was a bug. I think that there was, I think it was a test. I think it was a test to see how this goes over. Let's make every video seem as if it could have been uploaded today. And I think the response was.

Solid. Why would you even want to do this? It just, yeah. Uh, created a error of constant permanent misinformation. If you look up a subject and you get a video from three years ago, that says, yeah, the web telescope is never gonna work. And , I mean, just all the, all the levels of misinformation that could come out of that, I'm glad that it has been remedied, whether it was somebody turning a bad idea off, or whether it was a correction of a bug in the system.

I'm happy to be able to say, I know exactly what day mad dropped this video. 8, 2 22. That's right. So, Matt, if you could treat me like the dollar that I am. Yeah. And explain to me. What is happening here? The sun, she is burning. She's burning. She is burning hot and somebody somewhere has said, yeah, we're taking that hot from, from Yeon and we're turning it into liquid gold.

Yes. What is the process here? What are we talking about? We're talking about capturing solar energy and then converting it to a liquid polymer. That can then later be broken to release the energy. Is this, am I anywhere near the right? Okay.

so I'm not an engineer, but the high level basics of the physics at play are photons.

Are we even bared by photons with the sun all the time? Wait, what photons? Yeah, I know the photons are hitting molecules and they cause the molecules to vibrate and. They VI the faster they vibrate they're generating heat. That's why when you walk out in the sun and you're you feel the sun's raise hitting you, you feel warm.

It's, it's literally making your VI molecules vibrate. Mm-hmm . So essentially if a more direct, direct way to capture the energy from the sun would be to capture that heat. You know, the heat that is generated from the photons. In theory mm-hmm . And so there's all these different ways that we can do this.

And I walk through all those, like concentrated solar plants, like the impa system that has taken the sun, directing it onto a big basically block of Moten salts. That's super heating it and, and it can store that heat energy for days to slowly trickle it out over time. So if it's cloud. For a while doesn't matter because you're still using that heat.

That's been stored up mm-hmm from all those photons bombarding the system. There's different ways to store that heat. And this is one of those new interesting, well, newish, interesting ways to do that. And what it's doing is when the photons are basically hitting these manmade molecules. It hits them and they basically change shape.

So it changes

shape from one type of molecule into another. And when the molecule is changing shape back, Generates heat by changing back. Right. So what you're doing is by changing the molecule shape, cause energy is

never destroyed. It is only stored,

correct? Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's just storing it temporarily.

And then when you wanna run a run through a catalyst that flips it back into position, it releases that heat back out mm-hmm, where the inefficiencies come in. I mean that there is efficiency, there's potential energy loss in that transformation, but there's also energy loss when you are trying to convert that heat back into something like electricity.

So. If, you know, like a power plant, you take that heat, you boil water, you capture that steam. It turns a turbine, the generat electricity. Yeah. There's efficiency losses along that path. So there's little losses all along the way, which kind of is why the efficiency number that I brought up in the video was kind of low, but it's still a promising technology to store solar for when you need it.

Imagine, imagine a part of the world where. You get plenty of solar radiation during the summer, but in the winter you get like next nothing. Imagine like a squirrel hoarding, its nuts. Imagine being able to store incredible amounts of solar energy from the summer and then reuse it in the winter. Like we're talking seasonal shifts of energy.

And I'm not saying that this thing that I talked to Casper from Chalmers university is that's what theirs could be used for, but that's kind of. The direction that people are looking into of how can we do long term energy storage. To be able to cover us for those times that we don't generate enough for renewable energy.

Yeah. I'm glad you Casper's thing is more it's, it's a smaller scale than that. Yeah. And it's still in the lab. Yeah. And I think

it's interesting that you frame it like that. Cause a lot of the comments did seem to take issue with how is this even potentially viable. Whereas what you seem to be saying is we've just gotten a little tiny peak behind a curtain that may indicate there's a larger room on the other side, but we don't know for.

Right. Yeah, there was, there were comments like this one from UND. I'm gonna slaughter this name. I'm gonna apologize already. in advance. I'm gonna slaughter your name, the dear gold Dold button. I'm gonna say that. That's what the name is. And I'm gonna apologize. right now, if that's not even close the mind writes you didn't specify the energy density of the most fluid.

Most of course, being the acronym of the type of fluid, not you, didn't the most impressive acronym the most I've ever seen. Yes, it is. he writes, so I found it for you. It's 396 kilojules per kilogram, which is 110. Wat hours per kilogram, lithium ion batteries are almost three times that volumetric density is 359 kilojules per liter compared to more than 730 wat hours per liter per lithium.

Ion maximum theoretical specific density is 966. Kilojules per 200 equals 268 wat hours from the paper. I don't know if links are permitted. They're using derivatives to increase the energy collection efficiency and possibly stability. So you can have 3%, 18 years or 268 watt hours, not all at once. And then his comment goes on.

He, he continues for quite a while to explain that this is likely not safe for battery use the, he mentions that the, the liquid would actually potentially be very, very flam. The idea of having this in a headset as a battery or a phone as a battery would be likely

very dangerous. That's not, that's not how it's gonna be used that that's not even how it's being proposed to be used.

So it's not that he's wrong. It's right. That's not what this would be. That's not the use case for this.

Right. So I wanted you to have the opportunity to, to give that statement. I also brought this question specifically up, or this comment specifically up and just a reminder to our listeners comments are a huge.

Part of the engine of this podcast and they are also a huge part of the engine of Matt's main channel mm-hmm . So please, don't forget to jump into the comments with any thoughts or responses to what we're talking about, but he goes on to explain all this, and I wanted to bring this up for the opportunity to say to you, if you were to rank things from we're doing this already to might be, might be neat, but who knows, where would you put this on that list of things?

It's somewhere in between

those two it's it's one of those. This is one of the challenges that I have with my videos is I, I am not trying to say that a specific piece of technology is like, Fully vetted. This is a hundred percent gonna happen. That's not what my videos are about. Right. It's more about,

this is not things of, this is not investment advice.

This is no. Yeah, no,

it's more about look at the, the ingenuity that's happening. Look at the clever thinking. Look at the ways that people are trying to tackle these problems in clever ways and even. Casper's research itself. Doesn't go somewhere. It may cause a branch somewhere down the line for somebody else that creates something different.

That's coming off of his research. That's, that's how science works and exploration like this works. You're standing on the shoulders of those that came before you and building off of different advances that may have never gone anywhere. But then years later, there's a way that you can actually reuse what was learned from that a different way.

Right? So when I was talking to Casper about that that's, that was my mindset on this video, it was look at the clever thinking of where things might go. And to, for that comment specifically, this is never been proposed by Casper anybody to be a battery replacement. This is more. Capturing solar energy in a different way right than a solar panel does.

So imagine what you can do with this, if you combine those two, right? Because there are already, um, kind of combination solar panels, you can get today that capture thermal energy as well as the solar energy, those exist today, but they typically use things like water or another liquids just to kind of capture the heat and pump it into the house that you can use for hot water.

Right. This is a type of system that. Not only those photon would not only be knocking those electrons free instead of a solar panel that could be used for electricity. Some of those photon would be captured into these molecules to be able to be stored for heat that could be used inside the house to help generate hot water in the middle of the night.

So it's there it's once you start to think about like, oh, you could apply it in those different ways. That's when you realize the potentials of where this could go a decade from now. Uh, so that's kind of why I wanted to talk to Casper was to kind of. Show what might be a, what might be a possibility, but this would never be in, you know, your headsets or used in place of lithium on batteries.

It, it comes back to you and I have talked about this numerous times, uh, the right tool for the right job, right. And that would be the wrong use for this tool. Uh, so it's, it's just a matter of figuring out where it makes sense to use and if it does make sense, and then of course, costs and manufacturing and scaling things up.

So Casper still has a lot of work ahead of them, um, as they continue to tweak the molecules and how well it works, but it it's an interesting advance that they've been, they've been showcasing.

That leads into the next two comments that I wanted to share. This one from Dave Stagner who writes this is cool because it's a new technological concept.

I haven't seen before rather than just a refinement of an existing concept. The isomer plus catalyst approach is fundamentally different from. Producing a liquid fuel that requires later combustion and needs careful handling from combustion dangers or straight thermal storage. And because it's a liquid, it could theoretically be made in sunny areas and shipped to less sunny areas.

If the energy density makes shipping worthwhile, I think the energy Des density issue is a key element of this. It would make zero sense if this was the equivalent of the most. Minimal energy output. It would make no sense to try to ship it somewhere else. If shipping would actually use 10 times as much energy.

Yeah. So I think that right out of the gate, the concept that's been presented so far has been, this would be local energy. Yeah, storage for local energy usage, likely. And then there was this from Roderick LAR Frederick Larson, who wrote this opens for this, opens up something very important. The use of solar also in parts of the world that not only has sun and.

It only has sun during parts of the year. What is even more important is you can compensate for the need of energy by using a lot of absorbing units. It gives the ability for the producer to adapt to the need for electricity, rather than limitations of storage in the long run. I dare say that's the key to the economy because the price per unit will be possible to be lower at.

Drastically in the end, we already have everything needed to absorb sunlight. It's the other end? That's the problem. This could potentially solve that problem. And, yep. I think that that's more on the nose with where the technology currently looks. This is not the same as saying, oh, we're storing enough energy that you could take this and then pour it into the VAs in a different city and provide electricity of that city.

This is, as you suggested. Potentially something where if somebody could say, well, now we have a solar panel that has this layer beneath the, it feels additive. Yeah. The spectrum. It feels like an additive, the spectrum absorption happening on one level. And then the heat absorption happening on another level and potentially being able to keep some of that heat started in liquid form for at night when the sun goes down.

But those panels are still effectively producing electricity. That would be the potential side effect here. Yep. There's also this, and I think it's a good reminder, Matt, to you dataless dream journal rights. It would be good to plan for one year later or several years later, videos on some of these technologies, it would show which of these have, or have not had a breakthrough.

And you've done that in the past. And yes, it's always fascinating to go back and revisit. I would take a next step and say, I hope you plan on doing revisits with some of the individuals that you've interviewed, because I think yes, catching up on some of those interviews to find out like you had big plans.

How did it go? I think there's a great opportunity there for, for deepening the conversations in those. . Yeah,

that's definitely on my, my agenda. Like I have a whole idea board of all the topics I'd like to cover. And on there are revisiting topics, like as a reminder to me to keep checking in on those companies.

And a lot of times the people I'm interviewing. They're reaching back out to me saying, Hey, oh, here's an update on how we've been doing. So I'm, I'm actually getting updates from some people I've already talked to, uh, like I've talked to battery, recycling companies like American manganese, and I get regular updates from them as to their pilot testing and, and press releases they're putting out.

So it's like, I'm keeping tabs on these. And when I feel like there's enough there to give an update on, I will absolutely do it because if it doesn't succeed, I'm gonna, I'll put a video about that and talk about why it didn't succeed. And if it does succeed, I'll put out a video about it. Mm-hmm, why it's succeeding.

So it's like I have no horse in the race where there's these companies succeed or fail. It's it's my, my interest in the ingenuity behind it. And so it's like covering the, the successes and failures, uh, like a year, two, three years later. I'm absolutely on board. So I, I like to see viewers commenting along those same lines of, are you gonna revisit?

Yes, I

will. I would even suggest that there might be a model of doing a video, which might be about two or three things that are interconnected. And providing smaller updates instead of waiting for there, to be enough from one source. Because if you have something that's, let's say about recycling of things, and you've got updates from two or three different previous interviews to be able to say, and now we're gonna talk about.

What happened with those three things and then be able to jump back into those that would be, I think, another way of utilizing some of those updates, instead of keeping that information in your back pocket for the, what, if they have a breakthrough or a change in the next six months, it'd be a great way to keep that conversation going in the, in the short term as well.


I love that. It's a great.

So listeners let us know. Do you think that this kind of breakthrough with this kind of tech would fit into your region or your local city or your neighborhood's plans? Would you see investing in this as a good step forward? Or do you think that it's one of those? Well, it's a nice concept and it's good for academics, but it really doesn't have much of a place in what my community is doing or what we're looking for.

Let us know in the comments. Don't forget, you can reach out to us through the contact information and the podcast description, or you can jump on YouTube directly beneath this video and leave a comment there. And another way you can support the show is consider leaving a review on apple, Spotify, Google, wherever it was.

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