Goodenough to change batteries again
Lithium-ion battery pioneer works with EnergyX on solid-state Metal Tech News – September 23, 2020
Last updated 9/22/2020 at 1:41pm
Nobel Prize winning co-inventor of the lithium-ion battery John Goodenough is teaming up with a new generation of scientists and entrepreneurs at Energy Exploration Technologies, or EnergyX, to make the next world changing battery storage discovery – solid-state lithium-ion batteries.
From untethering our phones, computers, and power tools, to ushering in the era of renewable energy and electric vehicles, the rechargeable batteries pioneered by Goodenough and his colleagues have changed the world as we know it.
"Lithium-ion batteries have revolutionized our lives since they first entered the market in 1991. They have laid the foundation of a wireless, fossil fuel-free society, and are of the greatest benefit to humankind," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences noted when awarding Goodenough, Stanley Whittingham, and Akira Yoshino the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
At 98 years old, Goodenough continues to research as professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin and is passing his knowledge to a new team of scientist looking to build upon his world-changing legacy.
Earlier this year, Goodenough and several members of his lab at the University of Texas began collaborating with EnergyX, an emerging tech company with ties to Silicon Valley, to advance research into the next revolutionary energy storage technology – solid-state lithium-ion batteries
"It is truly an honor to be working with Dr. Goodenough and his group at UT. He is a legend in our industry, and I am in awe of his accomplishments," said EnergyX CEO Teague Egan. "I don't know anyone else who is 97 years old (Goodenough turned 98 in July), much less 80 years old, still working day in and day out to further his field. His experience and knowledge of the industry is unmatched."
While the advent of the lithium-ion batteries made possible the modern world with its smartphones, laptops, drones, and electric power tools unencumbered by the need of a power cord to reach the nearest power outlet, it is electric vehicles that are driving the markets and innovations for this invention worthy of a Nobel Prize.
There are several reasons EVs are so important to lithium-ion batteries, and visa versa. The biggest reason is scale – a single electric car requires 10,000 times more energy storage than a smartphone. There are expected to be at least 125 million EVs traveling global highways by 2030, needing the storage capacity of 1.25 trillion iPhones.
The number of EVs traveling global highways could be even higher if some fundamental battery-related issues could be overcome.
"Battery power for vehicles comes with some drawbacks," Volkswagen Group explained in a recent post about lithium-ion batteries. "EVs simply don't hold as much energy as a liquid-fuel vehicle and therefore have shorter ranges. It can take hours to recharge a large battery pack with a home 110-volt supply, and although there are fast charging options, everyday use of high-power charging can degrade EV cells. And EV batteries are the most expensive component in the vehicle."
Able to store five times more power and charge six times faster than today's lithium-ion batteries, which utilize liquid electrolytes, solid-state batteries with a pure lithium anode could eliminate the "range anxiety" that is preventing many people from transitioning to electric mobility.
"Through cutting-edge innovation, EnergyX is working to solve these problems and is driving the growth of the global lithium industry while making low-carbon technology cheaper and more accessible," said Egan.
A landmark licensing deal with University of Texas for exclusive rights to a large portfolio of intellectual property surrounding a next-generation class of materials called metal organic frameworks and mixed matrix membranes lie at the foundation of EnergyX' research.
With these materials being developed in the lab of University of Texas Professor Benny Freeman, EnergyX has developed a lithium-ion transport and separation membrane that is being used in an innovative lithium extraction technology that reduces the amount of energy, cost, and time needed to extract lithium from brine. The extracted lithium can be used in solid state lithium-ion batteries that use the same lithium-ion transport and separation nanotechnology.
"The setup we have at The University of Texas is great. We make the materials in Dr. Freeman's lab, then take them next door to Dr. Goodenough's lab to test them in batteries," said Egan.
This work is being led by Nick Grundish, director of battery design at EnergyX and Goodenough's last PhD candidate.
"The world has changed dramatically in the 40 years since Dr. Goodenough discovered his revolutionary technology. The original Li-ion battery has brought a lot of technological innovation with it, but still leaves much to be desired," said Grundish. "We are working to disrupt the energy storage sector yet again and provide a pathway for the eventual elimination of fossil fuels. Dr. Goodenough's support and wealth of knowledge is vital to achieving that mission."