Lithium battery inventor Goodenough develops solid-state batteries

John Goodenough, the 94-year-old co-inventor of the lithium ion battery, and his research team at the University of Texas’ Cockrell School of Engineering have developed the first solid-state lithium battery.

The research is likely to mean a step-change in the potential of lithium as an energy storage medium.

Writing in the journal Energy and Environmental Science on March 4, Goodenough says the new battery cells use a solid glass electrolyte instead of a liquid one, using an alkali metal anode which means dendrites do not form.

Senior research fellow at Cockrell School Maria Helena Braga, who began developing solid glass electrolytes with colleagues at the University of Porto in Portugal, was also on the team.

“The glass electrolytes allow for the substitution of low-cost sodium for lithium. Sodium is extracted from seawater that is widely available,” said Braga.

Goodenough says the team has developed cells that would lead to safer, faster-charging, longer-lasting rechargeable batteries for electric cars and stationary energy storage.

“Cost, safety, energy density, rates of charge and discharge and cycle life are critical for battery-driven cars to be more widely adopted,” writes Goodenough. “We believe our discovery solves many of the problems that are inherent in today’s batteries.

“The result is a battery with much greater energy density that can be recharged in minutes instead of hours and performs well at low temperatures. Best of all, it won’t ignite or explode the way a conventional lithium-ion battery can.”

According to the university, Goodenough and Braga are working on several patents and hope to collaborate with battery manufacturers to develop and test their new materials.