Good enough batteries
In 1980, John Goodenough revolutionized consumer electronics when he invented the rechargeable lithium-ion battery. 37 years later, he’s about to do it again. The physicist recently published a paper detailing the breakthrough research he’s been conducting on solid-state batteries that can hold three times the charge of any modern battery. Not only that, they also charge faster, and are completely stable, eliminating any risk of explosions or battery-related fires.
Goodenough’s new design, being developed with his 90-man research team at the University of Texas, uses glass electrodes instead of liquid ones, and sodium ions instead of lithium. Sodium is much denser than lithium, which gives it the potential to hold more energy. Additionally, by using solid glass, the new battery won’t form dendrites; whisker-like pieces of lithium that usually form in liquid electrolytes. Dendrites are the reason lithium-ion batteries have the tendency to short circuit and combust.
The solid-glass electrolytes also have the benefit of being unaffected by temperature – current lithium batteries perform poorly in cold weather. Lithium is also considered a rare earth mineral, and requires mining to acquire, making it more expensive than sodium, which can be derived from seawater, so these batteries will likely be a lot cheaper to produce and will also be more environmentally friendly.
For now, Goodenough and his team are looking to pair up with battery makers who can test their creation in electric vehicles and energy storage devices.