Oliver Gunasekara speaks with Cody Simms on the “MCJ Startup Series” podcast to discuss how Impossible Metals is helping us realize an electrified future by developing underwater autonomous robots that sustainably harvest metals for EV batteries in the deep sea.

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Today’s guest is Oliver Gunasekara, co-founder and CEO at Impossible Metals.

If we’re to electrify everything, we need an order of magnitude more batteries and wiring. All of this requires metals including nickel, cobalt, lithium, manganese, and copper. More metals mean… you guessed it, more mining. Today’s land-based mining practices are fraught with externalities that vary by material, but often include deforestation and land degradation, incredible amounts of water use, pollution via mine tailings, giant diesel trucks, and in some cases even child labor.

And what’s more, the supply chains for many of these resources often flow to China, which has made massive investments in securing access for China-based battery companies. And yet, in certain expanses of our deep ocean, there are seabeds full of golf ball-sized nodules of metal like nickel and cobalt that have naturally formed over millennia.

Impossible Metals is helping us realize an electrified future by developing underwater autonomous robots that mine metals for EV batteries in the deep sea. The company is developing an audacious moonshot-like technology to sustainably harvest trillions of dollars of undersea metals and disrupt the EV battery supply chain in the process. Buckle up, this discussion is rich and complex.

Get connected:
Cody Simms
Oliver Gunasekara / LinkedIn
Impossible Metals / LinkedIn
MCJ Podcast / Collective

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Episode recorded on January 10, 2023.

In this episode, we cover:

  • The state of mining today

  • An overview of key battery metals, including nickel cobalt manganese (NCM), cobalt, manganese, and lithium

  • Shortfalls in fulfilling the supply chain

  • Oliver’s journey in startups and how he transitioned to climate tech

  • An overview of deep sea minerals and their significance

  • The process for mining materials including regulations

  • Where we are today in terms of commercial mining of deep-sea minerals

  • Scientific exploration required to do the work

  • A description of Impossible Metals’ autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs)

  • How robotics help the AUV search for metals while minimizing the impact on sea life

  • Where the company is today and its goals for reducing the need for new mines

  • Costs associated with Impossible Metals’ solution compared to dredging and new mines

  • Impacts on the supply chain for batteries

  • Role of the Inflation Reduction Act in funding manufacturing and production

  • Final steps for refining and manufacturing materials into batteries

  • How Oliver approaches company formulation with the mission of doing good

  • Where the company is today and why the work is important

Episode Transcript