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Episode 24 Transcript: Making Metal out of Water

The complete episode 24 transcript.

Episode 24 Transcript: Making Metal out of Water

Molly Wood Voice-Over:Welcome to Everybody in the Pool, the podcast for the climate economy. We dive deep into the climate crisis and come up with solutions. I'm Molly Wood.

There’s a kind of wild phrase I heard … back when I was at Marketplace visiting a gold mine … trying to learn more about metals extraction … and it’s stuck with me for a long time …

Anything that isn’t grown … is mined.

In this world … when you consider the stuff we use and that’s all around us every day … it all got here in one of those two ways … it was grown … or it was extracted.

So when we look at our big basket of potential climate solutions … we have to examine not just the materials we use … but how we get … or create them …

And today’s guest has co-invented a new process for transforming seawater … into magnesium metal … and he’d HATE to hear me call it alchemy but honestly I can’t help it because any sufficiently cool new technology … just feels like magic.

Ok here we go …

Alex Grant:My name is Alex Grant. I am CEO at a company called Magrathea. Uh, we're a tech startup in Oakland, California, developing a new generation of electrolytic technology for making magnesium metal from seawater and air.

Molly Wood:First, tell us about magnesium and magnesium metal, so it's so important.

Alex Grant:Absolutely I can talk about magnesium all day. So, um, There are, there are three structural metals, steel, aluminum, and magnesium. Magnesium is the lightest of the three, so it's about a third lighter than aluminum and about four times lighter than steel. And that is one reason why mag has been used in almost every car for the last 50 years in small amounts.

Um, So Magnesium has this really important role to play for radical lightweighting, uh, for vehicles of all types, both on the ground and in the air. Um, because it basically just carries around less dead weight than aluminum and steel do. Um, It's also relatively more easily decarbonized than aluminum and steel.

Aluminum and steel are, are extraordinarily challenging to, to decarbonize and get to carbon neutrality. Um, so that's one reason why my co-founder Jacob and I came from actually the battery supply chain. To come start working on magnesium metal production technology because we realized that the battery supply chain was gonna get built slower and be more expensive than anyone would've imagined.

And we needed more levers to accelerate electrification and decarbonization because if you can essentially eliminate dead weight from a vehicle, you can reduce the amount of batteries you need in that vehicle to go a certain distance, or you can squeeze out a, a longer range. And, um, if, if you remove that weight, So that was, um, a big part of our motivation to pursue mag And, um, and, and magnesium's been used increasingly over the last maybe 10 to 20 years to meet cafe standards for internal combustion engines too.

So this, this kind of narrative for magnesium and radical lightweighting actually predates electrification, um, which is a good thing in reality because it means that it's not some brand new technology that no one's ever heard of.

Molly Wood:


Alex Grant:So that's kind of like the, you know, the environmental narrative that really like motivates us and got us working on Meg.

But there's this whole other angle to it that is, um, really compelling as well, which is the idea that it's kind of like the gateway metal. So someone, someone described this to me a couple months ago that, you know, magnesium is actually used in almost every aluminum alloy. So you actually lose the aluminum industry almost completely.

Which is essential for, for vehicles of all kinds, both on the ground and in the air if you lose magnesium supply. Um, and that actually happened last year. So an aluminum company had to declare force marere 'cause they ran out of magnesium.

Um, it seems for deceleration and steel making so you can't make a low sulfur steel, um, which, you know, infuse higher performance without bang museum at all.

Um, it's used to make titanium, which is a, a more expensive metal that's often used in aerospace. Um, it's used as a reagent to make titanium so without, without magnesium metal supply that's reliable. Um, you lose steel, you lose titanium, and you lose aluminum. Um, which are all really important. Um, so. You know, when we were just finishing up our first fundraise, our angel round last year, in March, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine and the whole Onshoring narrative and kind of national security narrative behind critical minerals became like really dramatic and suddenly like very real, especially in Europe.

Um, so, so it's a bit of a kind of code red hair on fire emergency that China and Russia controlled. More than 90% of the world's magnesium metal supply just completely dominated, and there's only one primary producer in the entire Western world that's like basically on their last legs and about to go outta business.

Um, So you know, I sometimes joke that you know, the v oh, sorry. I was gonna say Ali sometimes joke that the VCs like poke us to go fast. But like, this is like a really legitimate reason to go as fast as possible to bring on magnesium metal supply in the uni in the United States. Um, and that's what, you know, par partially really energizes us.

Molly Wood:

So here you have, okay. So you had identified This really crucial metal that as you point out, is primarily now produced, not even primarily in the extreme majority produced by Russia and China. It is lightweight, flexible, and we need a ton more of it. How, but then, then what is the unlock, the next unlock that gets you to a new way to produce magnesium reliably.

Alex Grant:

So, um, yeah, just, just to kind of give us kind of context here. So the, in China they use a process called the Pigeon Process. That's basically a, a Rube Goldberg device of coal. So they use waste heat from coal refining. They use coal to make the reagent that reduces the magnesium metal from magnesia. They use coal to, to roast magna site, to liberate c o two and making magnesium oxide, like it's just incredibly coal intense and incredibly labor intense.

Um, in China in the nineties, they had a lot of coal and a lot of labor, but increasingly they have less of both. Um, and in the West we certainly don't wanna double down on process technologies that rely so heavily on coal and labor. So what we've done at is we, we've, we've realized and kind of discovered that.

Electrolytic magnesium metal production technology. Not so not thermal, using coal, but electrolytic using electricity, um, is a technology stack that's been developed and deployed maybe five to eight times, but been done differently and never really perfectly in each case. Um, so what we've done is we've reviewed every single process ever developed based on the electrolysis technology.

And imbued radical improvements to the way that the magnesium is processed before it gets electrolyzed to really reduce cost and reduce environmental impacts. So the key for low cost, reliable low carbon intensity, magnesium metal is technology and we are technologists. So especially kind of suited to unlocking.

Magnesium metal as it is really a technological problem and a price of energy problem. And of course renewables are just crashing the price of electricity. So electrolytic technologies are very favorable. Um, and what's really, yeah, what's really interesting about MAG is that it, it's not a resource problem.

So it doesn't matter if you control a magnesium deposit, you know, the, the vast majority of magnesium metal ever made has been made from seawater by Dow in Texas. So,

Molly Wood:


Alex Grant:

So it's a really interesting critical mineral problem that is completely a technology problem and not, uh, a resource problem. And um, and

Molly Wood:

That's exactly kind of the contribution we're making.

Alex Grant:

Exactly, yeah, that's exactly our focus.

Molly Wood:

Is making it out of seawater or Salty water brine.

Alex Grant:

Exactly. Yeah.

Molly Wood:

Tell us about that.

Alex Grant:So, um, so really high level, the electrolytic technology stack has four steps. So the first is a hydrometallurgical upstream step where the salts are purified and concentrated using natural evaporation. Using potentially chemicals sometimes and electricity. Once a magnesium chloride concentrate is produced, the salt is dried from the brine to make an anhydrous magnesium chloride with very, very little or no water.

And that's actually the hard part. And the reason why is because of a process called hydrolysis. So when you try to make anhydrous mag chloride, it's very different from haylight or sodium chloride, like table salt. It doesn't just let the water go. When you increase the temperature and reduce the pressure, it actually reacts with water and it makes magnesium oxide, which is a nerve and you can't make metal from it as easily.

So controlling and preventing that hydrolysis reaction is the, is the name of the game for electromagnetic magnesium metal. And every single time that electrolytic magne metal has ever been built, a different hydrolysis process has been used. So we've developed a really low CapEx intensity, simple, robust approach to dehydration.

That's our main technology innovation. And we filed, like, you know, eight provisional patent applications and we've now converted two into full patent applications. Um, and, uh, yeah, once we've, uh, produced anhydrous mag chloride, we melt it and electrolyze it in a molten salt electrolyzer. Leveraging historical designs that are all kind of free to use now.

'cause all patents are expired and we've imbued some improvements on the electrolyzer, but it's not really like the main kind of bottleneck in, in magnesium production tech. But, um, but what that electrolyzer does is it splits the magnesium chloride into magnesium metal and, and chlorine. It's gonna be collected and sold or converted into hydrochloric acid.

Very valuable co-products. Um, and, um, and yeah, once that metal's been made, it gets topped out very similar to how aluminum is, is topped out of electrolysis cells using a vacuum and sent to a foundry where it can be alloyed, where it can be die cast, sand cast, uh, poured into a, a billet or, you know, in whatever form that people wanna be able to use the metal.

Um, So, yeah, that's really the high level, you know, kind of four steps, hydroma, dehydration, electrolysis boundary, and uh, you know, our core focus is on that, that means smelting step. That's really the hard part.

Um, everything else is like relatively straightforward, so

Molly Wood:

What? Um, it's funny 'cause when you explain it, it's very different than when I tell people about Mega Thea, which is, I'm like, they're making magnesium metal from seawater and they basically have this like really complicated process and they dry it out and stuff and then they put it in a Harry Potter cauldron and they bubble it in freaking metal forms like it's magic. So there are two ways to tell

Alex Grant:

It's, uh, yeah, I mean, um, I think, I think that

Molly Wood:

Your telling of the story is, uh, is just fine. //CUT

So tell me, um, having raised the question of why are you the right people and are you the right people? Tell me about the background of yourself and your co-founder and why you really are. Because it's, you two are fascinating geniuses. I.

Alex Grant:

Um, well, uh, so I'm from Canada, originally from near Toronto. Studied, uh, chemical engineering and philosophy at McGill in Montreal. I went for a PhD in chemical engineering at Northwestern, studying c o two transformation. Um, I, uh, was very interested in making, in solar fuels for energy storage, but I, I learned a lot more about thermodynamics and realized that there were some challenges associated with that.

So I, uh, I ended up, uh, meeting another grad student who had some ideas for lithium extraction technology, which got me into. Kind of extractive metallurgy. Um, moved to California. I dropped outta my PhD in 2017 and helped start a company called LAC Solutions. I approved out the technology at bench scale.

Um, I built the first mini pilots that showed it could be an economic way of making lifting chemicals. Um, and that was successful. So now they've raised hundreds of millions of dollars and there are hundreds of people. I left in early 2019, started my own consulting company that was very successful. Also helping different companies figure out what types of process technologies they would need to make lithium chemicals from unconventional natural resources.

So I had clients in Japan, Norway, across Europe, across North America, Australia, Africa, south America. Um, and, and learned a lot. Met a lot of people. Um, and interestingly, I was called out to Utah multiple times to help take lithium out of magnesium chloride bribes. So in, uh, in potash and salt operations, magnesium and lithium kind of gets stuck together.

Now there's a couple different producers of these types of brines in Utah and and in other places in the world who are starting to make lithium chemicals from mags and chloride brines. So, I kind of accidentally started learning about the resource base for magnesium, and I learned a lot about the fundamentals of, you know, aqueous electrolyte chemistry, like in brines and, and process technology for, for making things from brines.

So I've been working in brine resource development for like seven years, um, and know many of the technical and commercial realities of, of making products from those types of resources. Um, So, um, so that was like weirdly specific, right?

Molly Wood:


Molly Wood Voice-Over:

I’m going to interject and say this is how I actually MET Alex … when I was reporting on how to extra lithium … from brine … in the Salton Sea in California … you can see why his name popped up on the expert list. Now … to his co-founder …

Alex Grant:

Jacob, my co-founder, our CTO, he, uh, he's from Australia, so we're both from like, you know, the, the, the mining colonies.

Um, you know, now, now in, in, in California, you know, building a company. Um, Jacob, uh, also studied chemical engineering. Uh, his first job out of undergrad was at Alcoa in Perth making Lumina to make aluminum. So he's been in the light metal supply chain for like almost a decade, and for a very long time Jacob thought that aluminum was going to kind of eat, steal lunch because it was much lighter.

And, um, because it, uh, is electro produced, about a third of the cost structure of making aluminum is electricity and being Australian was a max. Any production process that's, uh, uh, you know, dependent on electricity is favorable for the future because, you know, electricity is becoming cheap and, but, and clean.

So, um, so anyhow, he, uh, ended up going to Cambridge in the UK, first PhD in Chemi, and then ended up in the US working on the battery supply chain, uh, as, as, as was I. And, um, he came out here about four years ago to work for Tesla and we became friends then. So he built the cathode pilot for Tesla cell program and um, yeah, we were just really both passionate about materials and De and yeah, one day someone, someone suggested he look at Meg, 'cause it was kind of like aluminum, like an electrolytic light metal, but even more so. So it was, it was his thesis on steroids.

The recipe for magnesium metal is more or less seawater plus electricity. There's no box site mining in primary rainforest in the Amazon for aluminum. There's no bare process to make Illumina with like 1100 degree Celsius calcination. Like there's all this like fossil fuel and open pit mining, like cost structure that that doesn't need to exist for for Meg. So, um, so yeah, that was like kind of the hook was this kind of decarbonization opportunity through magnesium metal.

Um, and then, you know, my work in Brian's just dovetailed perfectly into that. So, so yeah, we were, you know, we were really not looking for jobs. I mean, you know, he was happy at Tesla. I was happy working for myself, consulting, um, but, uh, we just got so hooked and just fell down this rabbit hole, uh, so fast.

Um, and, and yeah, basically the rest is history.

Molly Wood Voice-Over:

Time for a quick break. When we come back, a little more science talk … and the absolutely fascinating history about how we USED to make magnesium metal in the United States … for like 80 freaking years …

Molly Wood Voice-Over:

Welcome back to Everybody in the Pool. We’re talking with Alex Grant … co-founder of Magrathea Metals … about the magical lightweight metal that is magnesium … and why it’s such a good climate solution.

Molly Wood:

Let's put, okay, let's put a finer point on the decarbonization part of this. It's easy to decarbonize magnesium easier because you can use electricity and that electricity can be derived from renewable energy. Right.

Alex Grant:

Mm-hmm. Yeah, so, so a couple. Yeah, so a couple things. So, so

yes, so electrification enables decarbonization, and that's a theme playing out in many industries, right? People trying to substitute out gas and coal for electricity to decarbonize things. Um, but there's, there's another thing on top, which is the, the chemistry of the types of Morten salts that we use as the electrolyte for making magnesium metal.

So these temperature, these, these electrolytes, uh, they, they melt at a much lower temperature than the electrolytes used to make aluminum do. It's also a molten salt electrolysis process and um, that makes it, you know, basically easier to, you know, contain heat. Uh, 'cause obviously, you know, harder to keep hotter things hot.

Um, but, um, also that chemistry is much more forgiving. So it allows you to sort of play around with temperature and composition in much more creative ways.

So, The types of molten salts that we actually make metal from are the same types of molten salts that people have used for concentrated solar power to, you know, basically capture and move heat to produce renewable energy.

And the same molten salts used, um, I mean similar molten salts used for nuclear. Um, and, um, there's all this like kind of knowledge that can be translated from these other industries, uh, to, to be applied to mag metal production, that it's never been used before. So we're doing that for the first time and, um, and that allows us to actually engineer in intermittency into the process,

which you never could with aluminum.

'cause the, the chemistry is very fickle. So that's a big part of it.

Molly Wood Voice-Over:

Brief explainer interruption … engineering in intermittency … means Alex and Jacob have designed a process that can deal with the fact that renewable energy like solar or wind power might not be available or might fluctuate from time to time. Back to Alex …

Alex Grant:

But then finally, you know, our kind of unique contribution to dehydration technology development. Allows us to actually produce magnesium oxide as a co-product of drying the mag chloride, which we can use for ocean alinity enhancement and carbon dioxide removal.

So it means that if we can get clean power in right, and there aren't really that many other inputs, then if you, when you, you know, kind of add up the embodied c o two emissions in the lifecycle assessment, um, able to sort of like, Offset our own emissions by sequestering c o two, using the magnesium oxide, which can sequester c o two and put into seawater, for example.

Um, and, uh, and yeah, really potentially produce the first carbon neutral primary metal ever. Like no one in steel or aluminum is promising that 'cause it's, it's really hard or it's basically impossible,

but in this case it actually could be possible. So

yeah, that's really our goal.

Molly Wood:

And in. So in addition to all of that, which is already a lot that's wonderful. Is the, uh, Because we've got, okay, you've got potentially a carbon neutral metal at, at minimum a much, much less impactful metal. Um, you're onshoring it, which ensures a domestic supply of something that's obviously very critical. And also to what extent, if at all, can it start to replace aluminum or steel?

Alex Grant:

So, um, so, so yeah, so like there's already this like super thriving, important market that we can sell into to get going, right? We don't have to create any market, which is lovely.

Um, you know, it's not true for many other innovations.

Molly Wood:

It's already an alloy. It's already part of aluminum and steel.

Alex Grant:

It's already essential to aluminum industry. It's already essential to steel. It's already essential to CIS Stadium, right.

Um, Beyond that though, there's this really interesting growth prospect of essentially substituting for against aluminum and steel. Um, now this is something again I could talk about for hours, but, um, you know, really at a high level, magnesium and aluminum especially are weirdly interchangeable.

So they're melting points are almost identical, like six 50 and six 60 C, and we've actually now heard of multiple. Multiple examples of the exact same die casting machine being used for casting magnesium and aluminum parts. So, Magnesium and aluminum are like, they're kind of like brother metals, you know, almost all magnesium alloys have a little bit of aluminum in them.

All aluminum alloy have a bit magnesium in them. Right. Um, and um, and yeah, weirdly substitutable just based on the price ratio. So when you look back over decades of magnesium metal kind of literature, you'll see reference over and over and over again to the magnesium to aluminum price ratio. And when ratio gets below something like, 1.3 or so, which is really just the ratio of densities.

'cause magnesium is a third lighter. Uh, things start to kind of flip.

So the, the, the, the kind of, the lower you go in that price ratio, the more things make sense to be made out of mag. Um, and that's, that's a effect that's been kind of demonstrated and, and observed, uh, you know, multiple times in, in different industries.

Um, so, you know, when you kind of put all that together right? And think about the future, right? What we're doing here is thinking about the future. You know, aluminum really has a lot of headwinds, right? Like box site mining and aluminum production is only getting more expensive. Um, the electricity is, is very hard to kind of take advantage of solar and wind to make it cheaper and cleaner.

Um, and, uh, it, it fundamentally emits c o two in the process. You burn a carbon anode to make aluminum, you're burning coal in aluminum pelting. Um, so it's very hard to decarbonize. Whereas magnesium's like, just kind of the opposite of all those things, like almost everything, suggests that it can only become cheaper in the future based on where the world's going.

So, The price ratio, like we believe, right? Leveraging our technology innovation should kind of come down quite a bit, which unlocks a lot more mag usage compared to what was possible before based on, or, you know, historically based on historic prices.

So, um, so yeah, that's like something we're super excited about.

Molly Wood:

And remind me where that, that usage would occur. Is it like in car parts? Is it the doors? Is it rocket ships? Is it, you know, tell, tell us a little more about like where aluminum is used that could potentially be replaced with the caveat that we're talking about with the future

Alex Grant:

Yeah, yeah. Tons of structural parts in cars, um, you know, seats, dashboards, potentially doors and outer panels. Um, Battery pack enclosures, like this is especially the ends which can be casted, uh, effectively, um, in aerospace. Magnesium's already used all over the place. So one, one of my favorite parts at, at, uh, uh, a sand casting foundry, um, that we have a m o U with is a, is a, is a door hinge from a Boeing.

Plane that, that, that they, they make, um, and it's, it's like 92% magnesium. So there's lots of parts in, in planes that are mag. Um, you know, in 2014, the, the F a A approved the use of magnesium metal for kind of internal parts in planes. So historically it was, it was, it was kind of not approved 'cause people didn't understand it well enough. Now it's approved. So, um, so yeah, we, you know, we think, we think there's like, you know, we, we essentially see and we validated in many different ways, kind of like a 10 x growth opportunity in there for Meg die casting to make magnesium parts of this place aluminum and steel. So that's like the, the really like long-term like fascinating, you know, kind of opportunity or so.

Molly Wood Voice-Over:

And again … the really interesting thing is that although this is a new WAY to make magnesium from brine … it used to be THE metal … that countries would try to win wars with … history time!

Alex Grant:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So Dow started making magnesium metal from a brine under Michigan in the 1910s. Um, and in World War ii, the, the Nazis were bombing London so effectively. Partly because their planes were so, magnesium light, I was gonna say magnesium heavy, but that's not exactly true.

Magnesium light.

So they were, they could carry more bombs so they could bomb London more kind of more aggressively.

And part of the reason why they were using so much mags, because you know, it made them more effective and war fighting, but also 'cause they were Illumina and iron ore supply teams got cut off.

So basically the only structural metal that they had in abundance in Germany was, was magnesium. Um, so the UK and the US went to Dow in mid and in Midland, Michigan, and they said, Hey, could you ramp up magnesium production like 20 x? Like. Right now . And they did so in order to move as fast as possible, um, they, they went to the sea.

So they built a gigantic smelter in Freeport, Texas that became the biggest magnesium metal production site of all time. Um, I think it had a pl of like 80 or a hundred thousand tons per year. Six 60 to a hundred thousand bucks per year of mag. And, um, and that was, that was the, the largest Magis implant ever built, making it from seawater electrolyte.

Um, I mean, and Dow made a lot of different Meg products, so they were making magnesium boats. Um, there were like entire planes with like magnesium, outer shells, um, used by the military. Um, they were making almost, almost every kind of like tool or piece of equipment that you can imagine that you would want to be light, especially. They made out of mag. Like we have a ladder in our lab made outta magnesium, uh, by Dow from seawater. Um, and it's shockingly light, like it always ends up in random places in the lab. 'cause the team always wants to use it because it's of light. So, um, so yeah, so Dow ran that plant for 80 years, so, you know.

Chemical plants aren't supposed to last that long. Just like humans, they die, right?

Like they usually will go for like 30, 40, 50 years maybe. But this plant ran for like 80 years in Texas and it only shut down in 1998 when a hurricane came and knocked out power to the plant for a couple days, which meant all the salt froze in the electoral cells and that basically scrapped the plant.

And it was so old that I was like, oh my gosh, we're not gonna try to rebuild this thing. It's too much of a pain. Um, and at the same time, China had started dumping, so leveraging that process I described earlier that was very coal and labor intense. Um, the, the Chinese government actually gave Chinese ian producers, I think it was a 16% export rebate, so they were paid 16% on the value of the metal to export it.

So they, they like basically yeah, incentivized dumping of super cheap metal,

um, internationally, which shut down most Western production because it was just, it's impossible to compete if a government is like literally paying people right. To export it and dump it on other markets.


So, um, so yeah, that, that created what we call like the magnesium dark age of the last 20 years, where like a lot of people have like forgotten that it's an option, despite the fact that it has like all these incredible properties that, you know, really are gonna bring a lot of value for electrification, decarbonization, um, And um, and yeah, really a big part of our mission is like reviving the legacy of Dow and like, you know, capturing a lot of the knowledge that was created by Dow.

'cause they really did solve most problems, um, of, of kind of manufacturing and producing magnesium.

Molly Wood:

Some issues in the extractive side.

Alex Grant:

I was gonna say, minus this one part that

Molly Wood:


Alex Grant:

Like I, I keep telling you, you need to lean harder into the part that you have invented that is

Molly Wood:

Yeah. I remember you saying Molly, that like we're, we're almost like too humble about that kind of contribution we've made, but, um, but yeah, really.

Alex Grant:

Brag about the unlock part.

Alex Grant:

We've, we've developed what we think is like really a way more sophisticated way of doing the dehydration than even Dow had available. So, you know, if Dow could run for 80 years and make all these incredible products out of magnesium, um, with inferior technology, then, you know, basically we think we can do better, um, and create a lot of value in the process.

Molly Wood:

Potentially, you know, you sort of breeze past the embodied carbon part, but in theory, you'll be able to unlock a global market that will want, especially if you're making it at the same or cheaper price point, will want carbon neutral or low carbon magnesium as opposed to coal derived.

Alex Grant:Absolutely. Yeah. I mean we've, we've spoken to like probably most of the aluminum companies in North America and Europe. Uh, most of the automotive companies, and would say at least a minimum half of 'em have told us like, We would, one, want to use more mag if we had low cost, low carbon mag available. Um, but two, you know, even for our existing needs, like we would vastly prefer to buy Western made clean low carbon mag, right?

Like, it just ticks so many different boxes for 'em.

Um, you know, I've even, I've even had aluminum companies tell me that their order of priorities are one, supply security i e getting off of China. Two, decarbonization, three price. You know, this guy didn't need to say that.

Molly Wood:

Right. But like Yeah, I know.

Isn't that a statement?

Molly Wood:

I love this because, I mean, just like, let's take our last few minutes here to talk about why this is such a big solution, like why these are the kinds of climate solutions that are that are not visible to people. Right? It's the stuff that you don't think about. It's the, it's the literal ground up creation of the things that we see all around us that need to be addressed in a really hard science kind of way.

Alex Grant:

Yeah, I mean, I, uh, you know, for years I've had a philosophy that you really have to like, kind of steal the carbon emissions out from under people, right? Like all of this, all of all of, all of these efforts to like, Either convince companies or consumers to emit less by not flying or swapping out their coal for natural gas or whatever.

Like has kind of failed, right? 'cause we, we haven't really implemented, like, economy-wide, you know, kind of, um, you know, measures to reduce c o two emissions and stuff. So like the, the way we kind of think about our solution is like, you know, we're essentially providing like the same service at the end of the day, which is, Transportation or, you know, whatever it may be, um, in a more environmentally friendly way with lower embodied c o two emissions with less dead weight.

In the case of vehicles, um, you know, the, the end user doesn't need to, doesn't even need to know in a way, right? Um, you know, most people don't know the difference between aluminum and steel, right? Like, if I gave you two blocks, you like, most people wouldn't even know the difference, right? So, Um, you can't expect them to know.

You can't need them to know. You just have to provide solutions that, you know, kind of just makes it so that people don't have to figure that out almost. Um, that's kinda how I think about it.

Molly Wood:Yep. I love it. Alex Grant, CEO of Magrathea Metals. Thank you so much for the time. Oh, wait, wait. Before I let you go, explain the name.

Alex Grant:

So, uh, Magrathea is a planet from the book, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. That builds planets. So Magratheans are kind of specialty architects for, for, for manufacturing planets. And, um, yeah, we, uh, we, we chose a name 'cause obviously it starts with Meg, um, which is very relevant. But, um, also we're just like huge science fiction nerds.

So our whole lab is like just littered with like hitchhiker's guide references and dune references and stuff like this. Um, and we just love that that metaphor of like, Planet building, right? Like the first kind of wave of industrialization has caused a lot of problems. Um, so we're trying to, you know, re industrialize, rebuild, um, you know, remanufacture using clean technology with fewer c o two emissions and fewer impacts of many different kinds.

Um, You know, especially if we could eliminate mining from the supply chain of structural metal, like that's kind of like a exploding brain meme, you know, kind of environmental, you know, proposition. So, um, so yeah, we're, uh, you know, we're, we're trying to rebuild Earth in a way, and that's, that's what Magratheans do.

Molly Wood:

I love that. That's amazing. Thank you. Thank you so much for the time. This is fantastic.

Alex Grant:Thank you, Molly. A pleasure.

Molly Wood Voice-Over:

That's it for this episode of Everybody in the Pool. Thank you so much for listening.

Email me your thoughts and suggestions to in at everybody in the pool dot com and find all the latest episodes and more at everybody in the pool dot com, the website. And if you want to become a subscriber and get an ad free version of the show, hit the link in the description in your podcast app of choice.

Thank you to those of you who already have. See you next week.

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