The co-inventor of the lithium-ion battery, which powers almost every modern mobile device and many newer electric cars, says he's developed a safer battery that lasts three times longer.
In a filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in research published in the March edition of the journal Energy & Environmental Science, John Goodenough and colleagues at the University of Texas report that their new battery technology could produce a safe, non-explosive cell able to power an electric car much longer than current batteries do — with charging times measured in minutes, not hours.
"Cost, safety, energy density, rates of charge and discharge and cycle life are critical for battery-driven cars to be more widely adopted," Goodenough said in a statement issued through the university. "We believe our discovery solves many of the problems that are inherent in today's batteries."
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The new cells — which use, of all things, glass — also promise safer, faster-charging, longer-lasting batteries for handheld devices, like smartphones and gaming systems, the research team wrote.
Supposed battery breakthroughs are nothing new — many new technologies have been developed in the last two decades, but none has been simultaneously beefy enough, safe enough and cheap enough to supplant lithium-ion cells.
And while there's no guarantee that Goodenough's new battery will break that cycle, what's different this time is that he's John Goodenough.
Goodenough, 94, co-invented lithium-ion battery technology more than 30 years ago. In 2013, President Barack Obama awarded him the National Medal of Science.
"When John Goodenough makes an announcement, I pay attention," Donald Sadoway, a professor of materials science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told Spectrum, the journal of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
"He's tops in the field and really a fantastic scientist," Sadoway said. "So his pronouncements are worth listening to."