Godfather Of Lithium-Ion Battery Says He’s Found A New Battery Breakthrough

MAR 3 2017 BY MARK KANE 78

How about ultimate battery pack for electric cars?

John Goodenough, famous for co-inventing the lithium-ion battery and currently 94-year-old professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, is leading a new breakthrough project in all-solid-state technology.

New solid-state battery developed by a team of engineers in Austin turns to have at least three times as much energy density as today’s lithium-ion batteries.

“Goodenough’s latest breakthrough, completed with Cockrell School senior research fellow Maria Helena Braga, is a low-cost all-solid-state battery that is noncombustible and has a long cycle life (battery life) with a high volumetric energy density and fast rates of charge and discharge. The engineers describe their new technology in a recent paper published in the journal Energy & Environmental Science.”

If that doesn’t sound good enough, there are also other advantages, making us wonder how fast someone will introduce these on the market:

  • low-cost
  • safer, noncombustible
  • faster-charging
  • longer-lasting (demonstrated more than 1,200 cycles with low cell resistance)
  • could perform well in subzero degree weather, first all-solid-state battery cell that can operate under 60 degree Celsius
  • cells can be made from earth-friendly materials

University of Texas at Austin issued a statement on the discovery:

John Goodenough

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

The researchers demonstrated that their new battery cells have at least three times as much energy density as today’s lithium-ion batteries. A battery cell’s energy density gives an electric vehicle its driving range, so a higher energy density means that a car can drive more miles between charges. The UT Austin battery formulation also allows for a greater number of charging and discharging cycles, which equates to longer-lasting batteries, as well as a faster rate of recharge (minutes rather than hours).

Today’s lithium-ion batteries use liquid electrolytes to transport the lithium ions between the anode (the negative side of the battery) and the cathode (the positive side of the battery). If a battery cell is charged too quickly, it can cause dendrites or “metal whiskers” to form and cross through the liquid electrolytes, causing a short circuit that can lead to explosions and fires. Instead of liquid electrolytes, the researchers rely on glass electrolytes that enable the use of an alkali-metal anode without the formation of dendrites.

The use of an alkali-metal anode (lithium, sodium or potassium) — which isn’t possible with conventional batteries — increases the energy density of a cathode and delivers a long cycle life. In experiments, the researchers’ cells have demonstrated more than 1,200 cycles with low cell resistance.

Additionally, because the solid-glass electrolytes can operate, or have high conductivity, at -20 degrees Celsius, this type of battery in a car could perform well in subzero degree weather. This is the first all-solid-state battery cell that can operate under 60 degree Celsius.

Braga began developing solid-glass electrolytes with colleagues while she was at the University of Porto in Portugal. About two years ago, she began collaborating with Goodenough and researcher Andrew J. Murchison at UT Austin. Braga said that Goodenough brought an understanding of the composition and properties of the solid-glass electrolytes that resulted in a new version of the electrolytes that is now patented through the UT Austin Office of Technology Commercialization.

The engineers’ glass electrolytes allow them to plate and strip alkali metals on both the cathode and the anode side without dendrites, which simplifies battery cell fabrication.

Another advantage is that the battery cells can be made from earth-friendly materials.

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

Goodenough and Braga are continuing to advance their battery-related research and are working on several patents. In the short term, they hope to work with battery makers to develop and test their new materials in electric vehicles and energy storage devices.”

Categories: Battery Tech

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78 Comments on "Godfather Of Lithium-Ion Battery Says He’s Found A New Battery Breakthrough"

newest oldest most voted

Extraordinary claims require 98 year old geezer. We shall see how this will pan out.

anonymous

I bet at 98 years age he is still much smarter than you as his research works prove :/

And I don’t think he uses word “breakthrough” in his paper, the bubble is being blown by others.

Of course he’s smarter than me, and probably smarter than anyone else here (maybe except Bria in few years). Look what he invented. However, this “news” has been floating around for few days, and he hasn’t said anything to say it’s overblown.

But you never know, that’s why I say “we shall see”.

SJC

He has made major contributions to humanity, the VAST majority of people do nothing meaningful their whole lives.

Raising kids to be a productive member of society is very meaningful. In fact, that’s the only meaningful thing to do in life. Minority like me lead a meaningless life (no kids).

SJC

With 8 billion people soon to be 9, we don’t need more.

ijonjack

Procreating Does Not Make one a Productive member of society. Rats, Mice & Many other Rodents Can Procreate!..It’s No Big Feat ! Most are only Creating more Problems in an already Problematic & over populated World…And How Do You Goodenough doesn’t have Kids ? He is a man To Be admired & Respected at the very least!..I’ve never seen so mush Disrespect in a long time ! Were you raised by Animals?

ffbj

94. Still a geezer though.

J P DeCaen

Let’s make the world a better place by giving a hard time to older people who insist on breaking stereotypes by refusing to give up on important research.

Will Davis

You obviously don’t know what a geezer is. It was a compliment, so why are you telling that guy off?

Will Davis

I researched it, turns out in the U.S. Geezer is a derogatory term. In the UK it refers to a man, generally one who is eccentric or cool.

DonC

John Goodenough is the real deal (as is Jeff Dahn). At 90 he’s likely smarter than most researchers are at 45. Super innovative thinker.

Solid state is a likely winner. But there are plenty of other companies working on it, including Dyson. At some point you have to believe that someone will make the technology practical. Sooner is better than latter so let’s hope one (or more) of these solid state cells work out.

Timmy

Five big ones are

Sakti3/Dyson
QuantumScape,
Seeo (SF Bay Area, Shanghai)
Amprius (former DOE head Steven Chu is involved),
Ionic Materials (recently featured on Nova)

Others (mentioned here https://yhoo.it/2mDYd7z,
about a for-a-fee report):

24m Technologies
Blue Solutions
EMPA
Flashcharge Batteries
Hitachi Zosen Corporation
Ilika Technologies
Johnson Battery Technologies
Kalptree
Planar Energy Devices
PolyPlus Battery Company
Prieto Battery Inc
Solid Power
SolidEnergy

AlphaEdge

Like every other battery “breakthrough”, when can I put this in my phone? Oh it’s not meant for that. When for cars? Soon. Any issues of any kind? Silence.

Mint

High energy density breakthroughs will *always* appear on phones first.

Tens of millions of consumers will pay $2000/kWh to double the battery life of their phone without increasing volume. Volume EV makers won’t even pay a tenth of that.

And before phones get them, medical device makers will pay $50,000+/kWh for such batteries, and yet they still aren’t available.

My guess is 2030 before EVs get solid state batteries.

TwoVolts

2030??? I’m sorry – but that’s not good enough.

ijonjack

You Mean That’s Not “Goodenough” & I agree…l ol

Gasbag

Phones first is likely but medical devices first is unlikely. Most medical devices have more serious liability potential and more stringent approval processes adding years to deployment. An advanced technology is only going to appear in medical devices first if it is cost prohibitive for it to enter other markets. The other markets (Consumer electronics, Transportation, utility power storage) can all license the technology separately permitting each to deploy as soon as they are able.

Mint

You’re right about general medical implants, although even there the lithium iodide battery has powered pacemakers since 1972, so there are exceptions. But there are lots of medical devices which aren’t implanted, and upon failure won’t be dangerous, and they will pay much more for higher density than consumer electronics.

wavelet

There’s no real battery-life issue with current phones. Assuming you own a phone from one of the popular but still user-swappable models (e.g., most Samsung S models), you can buy a larger (2x or 3x) battery + replacement backfor the device, for $20-$35 or so.

The added volume is negligible, as is the added weight.

There’s no advantage to today’s ultra-thin phones — they’re just more difficult to hold, and leave no space for physical buttons. It’s just a silly marketing fad, like ultra-thin laptops.

Mint

From that point of view, there’s no need to get any phone with newer tech than we had years ago.

High end phones are a luxury, and longer battery life adds to that luxury. Before the smartphone age, we used to have batteries lasting a week, and people didn’t buy slim phones if they had low battery life. The appealing RAZR only appeared when it could be achieved with 2-3 day life, and people still complained about shorter life than other phones.

I would easily pay $70 for a 20Wh battery to increase the run time and enjoyment of my $500 phone (and perhaps more importantly, reduce the headache of forgetting to charge) if it doesn’t become twice as thick. Not everyone would, but tens of millions of people share my desire.

Pushmi-Pullyu

One segment in the very watchable episode of PBS’s “Nova”, “Search for the Super Battery”, showed li-ion battery cells with a solid plastic electrolyte. Not only don’t they overheat when damaged or cut, the plastic is flame-retardant!

It’s still in the development stage. Can they figure out how to mass produce it cheaply?

The race is on!

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/tech/new-damage-proof-battery-has-higher-energy-density-wont-explode/

J P DeCaen

The Bollore Bluecar, used by ride sharing services such as BlueIndy in Indianapolis, very definitely uses a lithium metal polymer battery. It’s been in production for a few years.

Pushmi-Pullyu

Lithium polymer batteries have been around for several years now. They don’t use a solid electrolyte, nor are they immune to overheating. Those are not the same thing at all.

Timmy

Lots of issues with the “Bollore battery”. I believe it has to be kept *very hot* and will discharge within a day or two if not. Probably not the best formula for high efficiency.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

Here’s to hoping this comes to fruition!

And hoping the OPEC scum don’t buy out the patents.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

Even if it only slightly improves over the performance of lithium, it should be “Goodenough”…….lol

ffbj

“It is a capitalist plot”.
–Russian counter-part, Boris Badenov.

Timmy

“Can’t wait for it to make its way to limousines”, said Badenov’s chauffeur Picov Andropov.

(Hat-tip to Cartalk)

Mike

The point of solid state requiring 60 Celsius is interesting. I don’t ever remember anyone mentioning this temperature limitation. That would certainly explain why there aren’t commercially available solid state EV batteries yet.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

We know it’s possible/capable cold threshold.
I wonder what the Heat threshold is.

BernieTx

60o celsius is 140 farenheit! Wow, if this is correct at least you don’t need to worry about the batteries over heating in the hot summer. But you will need heavy duty insulation and continuous TMS heating.

ffbj

That is the maximum operating temperature. They can work down to around freezing, not at optimum efficiency, that was just error.

ffbj

That was for earlier attempts at solid state, which did not operate at very low temperatures under 10*F. So this one is much better on the low end.

Murrysville EV

Time to retool the Gigafactory? No.

Dav8or

This is why Tesla’s Gigafactory is still risky business. If a new battery technology similar to this one becomes a reality and they decide to start their own company, or license it to someone other than Tesla, or Panasonic, Tesla could be stuck with the world’s biggest white elephant.

Gasbag

>This is why Tesla’s Gigafactory is still risky business. If a new battery technology similar to this one becomes a reality and they decide to start their own company, or license it to someone other than Tesla, or Panasonic, Tesla could be stuck with the world’s biggest white elephant.

This technology is most likely years away from being production ready. GF1 is in operation and generating revenues and profits today. More importantly GF1 gives TSLA a cost advantage as well as the ability to scale production to the levels required to achieve parity with ICEVs. When the time comes to license this technology the biggest players will be in the best position to negotiate and TSLA is likely to be the 800 pound gorilla of the battery world by then.

Someone out there

Tesla isn’t the only one building battery factories. By 2020 the Gigafactory will “only” produce about 20% of the world market.

Someone out there

Yes indeed, if someone like GM managed to get a monopoly on these it wouldn’t be too great for Tesla.
On the other hand Tesla sells/manufacture a lot of batteries so if you want to make money Tesla would be a good partner to have.

Pushmi-Pullyu

I see our new serial Tesla basher, Dav8or, is regurgitating FUD again.

If a better battery tech comes alone, Tesla will be “stuck” with still being one of only two EV makers (along with BYD) that has sufficient battery production capacity to sell a high volume of 200+ mile BEVs.

We should note that LG Chem is offering a significantly lower cost for its batteries. Has that put all other li-ion battery makers out of business? Has that forced every maker of cell phones, laptops, consumer electronics, and plug-in EVs to switch to LG’s batteries?

Of course not. Even a significant improvement in cost isn’t putting other battery makers out of business, at least in part because LG can’t possibly supply all of the market, or even a large segment of it… at least, not yet.

Similarly, if some company puts solid state batteries into production, then Tesla will have some years to decide whether they want to license the new tech, or license a competing tech from some other company… or stick with what they know is working.

Alan

This was always on the cards, simply a matter of time.

The scaling & commercialisation of them is the acid test though.

Warren

Solid state batteries will finally make EVs a viable replacement for ICE cars. Current batteries are just good enough for environmentalists, and tech nerds to make the switch. A decade from now there will be no debate. Too bad we didn’t make battery development a national priority decades ago, when we knew we needed them.

David Murray

How is this different than the other 100 “battery breakthroughs” we’ve read about over the last 5 years? Especially those claiming to use solid state electrolyte?

Roy_H

Only 3x better? As you say there have been many announced “breakthroughs” and since I am interested, I read as many as possible. Most are non-starters as the performance gain is in one area only, i.e. power, energy density, long life. But some like this one:
http://www.greencarcongress.com/2011/09/alginate-20110909.html
looks like it hit on everything, low cost, non-polluting, 10x energy density, over 1000 cycles. But I have not heard anything since about it. What happened?

DonC

The electrolyte made from glass, which is then plated. That’s a completely new approach.

Doggydogworld

This is different because it’s John Goodenough. Unlike most battery researchers, he doesn’t need to make inflated claims to get attention and funding.

Pushmi-Pullyu

“How is this different than the other 100 ‘battery breakthroughs’ we’ve read about over the last 5 years?”

I’d say that the odds are it’s no different at all. There must be hundreds of companies, large and small, as well as university and college research teams, all trying very hard to commercialize the next battery breakthrough.

Claims in this field are nearly always overblown, and sometimes outright fraudulent. Because of the very high level of noise to signal in the field of new battery tech (or to put it more bluntly, the percentage of B.S. in claims), we won’t know which one of them will succeed in commercializing their tech until they start actually selling the batteries.

This isn’t at all to denigrate John Goodenough. But lightning, and the inventive spark that leads to a commercially successful product, rarely strike twice in the same place. When it does, it rarely comes from someone this advanced in age. (Note I didn’t say never; Robert Bussard and the Polywell come to mind!)

Damocles Axe

Your view is un-justifibly negative. Many smart, honest people have insights as to how batteries COULD be improved dramatically – and make announcements in order to get funded to conduct the research and development.

It’s just the nature of product development that most ideas don’t work out due to economics, or un-expected side-effects that can’t be effectively worked around. Look at how long it has taken to develop Lithium batters to the point they are at now!

In most technologies, and in batteries in particular, progress tends to occur at 5% per year rather than in ‘big jumps’.

I think people have un-realistic expectations expectations from watching TV and movies where the technicians invariable whip out something new within a couple days that works perfectly the first time! That’s not real life 🙁

Doggydogworld

The “inventive spark” obviously came from Maria Helena Braga. Battery R&D is one of those 1% inspiration/99% perspiration fields. Even if you have a good idea you won’t get far without access to a top lab, lots of smart colleagues, funding, industry contacts, etc. She chose to work with Goodenough because he has all that. He chose to work with her because, with his decades of experience, he could see she was onto something.

This is a long way from commercialization, but it’s a lot more meaningful than your typical “battery breakthrough of the week” announcement.

CDAVIS

I’m highly skeptical of battery advancement claims including this one. But if this claim as stated proves to indeed have John Goodenough’s full backing (and if he is fully lucid at 94)…well then that would be something very interesting indeed. If only half of the energy density improvement stated here are duplicable in a real-world production environment that would be massively disruptive.

Ron M

I wonder how long it will be before these batteries begin to be produced?

Lou Grinzo
I am 100% convinced that we will have dramatically cheaper EV batteries in the next 5 to 10 years. And by “dramatically cheaper” I mean at least a 50% reduction over today’s costs. Whether that comes from several marginal changes plus economies of scale, i.e. brute force economics, or one immense step-change in costs due to a Big Battery Breakthrough is still to be seen. We are at the knee in the curve/tipping point for battery tech and EVs. And once we get there, and people can buy a middle-of-the-road car or small SUV, meaning not a tricked-out luxury vehicle, for $25,000 with a 250 to 300 mile charge range, then the transportation landscape will change fast enough to give people whiplash. (As I like to point out, look at the ICE cars you can buy today for $25,000 to $30,000. Subtract from their build cost every part that’s not in an EV: engine, transmission, fuel tank, emissions controls, muffler, catalytic converter, etc. Now add the cost of EV-specific parts: motor, battery, regen braking system. It won’t be much longer before the parts you’re subtracting cost more than the parts you’re adding for a well over 200 mile EV.) So… Read more »
Gasbag

@lou G

Why are you so pessimistic about battery costs? The rate of price performance improvement over the last 2 years have seen 16% per year and 14% /yr for the 5 years prior to that. If the current pace stagnates then you’re looking at over 50% improvement in 4 years and over 75% in 8 years.

ItsNotAboutTheMoney

For now we just need cheaper batteries, but we need better batteries if we really want total transformation.

Pushmi-Pullyu

Indeed.

If we want plug-in EVs to be fully competitive with gasmobiles, then we need battery cells (and packs) which can be recharged in no more than 10 minutes, at a maximum. And 5 minutes would be better.

That means we need batteries with much lower internal resistance to charging and discharging, allowing much faster charging without overheating. That won’t come from incremental improvements in li-ion chemistry.

We need a genuine breakthrough in battery tech, and one which can be made and sold at a competitive price.

Yves

recharge in 5 minutes
Wow, I would like to see 100KWh dump in 5 minutes, you would need big wires to carry that sort of current (or step up the voltage so you do not need as much current),maybe they can use the whole body of the car as a conductor

ffbj

This is the first all-solid-state battery cell that can operate under 60 degree Celsius.”

No, I don’t think that is correct. Usually that is given as a maximum temperature. 140*F.
So if it only 120*F it would not operate?

Larry

I just hope they’re available in 8-10 years in the aftermarket when I need to replace the cells in my ’17 Volt!

Malevolence
Why do you think you’ll need to replace the cells in your volt in 8-10 years? My 6-year old Volt with about 40k electric-only (60k total) miles shows zero degradation so far. There are many reports out there with significantly more electric miles with no degradation to user performance. How can that be? Because GM designed it that way. They only let you use about 60-80% of the pack capacity by design (they were really conservative at first and have allowed more of the pack to be used over time). This has a dual benefit. First, it extends the life by not fully cycling the battery, which lithium ions like. And second, it means that some level of degradation will have no noticeable impact to the end user for a very long time after buying the car – if you only get to use 75% of the battery from day one, you’ll won’t notice when the battery drops to 80% of the original capacity, since you can still pull the same 75% out of it. Now if you want the really messy math that shows this, here it is. Based on some observant users, your 2017 allows you to use… Read more »
Nix

+1

“a grand total of zero Volt packs have been replaced because of “general capacity degradation”…”

http://insideevs.com/zero-first-generation-chevrolet-volt-battery-packs-replaced-due-general-capacity-degradation/

PHEVfan

While your analysis is interesting, it is based on a false premise: That you won’t see degradation at 80% because you are only using 75% of the battery. Mathematically it may seem that way but in the real world that isn’t true. You are not using only 75% of the battery, you are using all of it at 75% use rate. That is different.

Someone out there

In 8-10 years you need to replace your Volt.

With those stats, if it comes to fruition, it would be breakthrough not for ev,but for air traffic and trucks.

60 – 100 kwh Li-ion already on the market are more than enough. 100 kwh even when driven like idiot would return 2miles to kwh, 200 miles is what sports cars often dong get. At 4 mpkwh we get 400. Who needs more? Just bring cost down with time. We are already there guys, so great 😀

Kdawg

Batteries like this is what would bring the costs down. Not only because they are made with cheaper materials, but you need less thermal management hardware/protection. Also, with higher energy density, you make the car lighter, which then makes it more efficient, with feeds back into less battery needed. Wash & repeat. And with a smaller battery, you free up more room inside the car, which makes it more appealing, and makes it easier for the package designers.

So I’d say this would have a big impact on creating affordable, appealing, electric vehicles.

Filipe

The question is, is it good enough? ?

Kdawg

As always, the Murch-is-on for a better battery, and they may have got there, but they just didn’t want to Braga ’bout it.

J P DeCaen

I wonder if having to tolerate the puns makes this battery worthwile. (I suppose so).

ItsNotAboutTheMoney

The Goodenough-Braga battery. Has a certain ring to it.

We just need one of the lab breakthroughs to turn into a complete breakthrough.

speculawyer

Yeah, his name cracks me up. I wonder if it always forced him to strive harder and not just settle for “Goodenough”

carcus

I read somewhere he’s got a son, …. Sue Goodenough.

Foo

His motto:

“These batteries just aren’t Goodenough”.

offib

Nice to hear some news that actually makes me want to anticipate the future.

Anyways, this is more than Goodenough!!!

Dave

Hey,this reminds me: anyone remember (or know what happened to) eestor? They made some biiiig promises and then just kind of faded away… There was a blog about them that started out good but then got weird and ranty, if I remember correctly…

Nix

Do you mean this blog? The guy who ran it pulled the plug a could of years ago:

http://bariumtitanate.blogspot.com/2015/04/the-end-of-theeestory.html

Ambulator

He probably meant theeestory.com, which was more popular. It was unceremoniously dumped when the plug was pulled. Same guy running it, though.

Pushmi-Pullyu

Most people lost interest in EEStor after its claims for breakthroughs were shown, by third-party testing, to have no foundation. This was a company whose principal claimed to have an ultracapacitor that had 10x the energy density of then-current li-ion batteries and would be made at about half the cost of then-current li-ion batteries.

When the plug was finally pulled on TheEEStory forum, the company had been reduced to searching around trying to find some niche application for their tech that might make it commercially viable, despite the fact that in most ways it was inferior to off-the-shelf ultracapacitors.

After spending all too many years and way, way too many hours reading and posting to TheEEStory forum (under the screen name “Lensman”), the most important thing I learned is this: If a company refuses to give a public demonstration of a prototype of their tech, then don’t believe a word they say.

But hey, it wasn’t entirely a waste of time. At least now I know the difference between power and energy, and between kilowatts and kilowatt-hours. I also learned a lot about batteries and electric cars.

Seuthès

I have read that story about 3 days ago, and I ask a friend of mine. He is preparing is PhD in électric storage, and he told me that the goal for dry Li-ion is 2,5 times of now in 10-15 years.
He expects 500Wh/kg and under $100 per kWh by 2025 with Li-ion or with an other technology.
He said that Na-ion is 90Wh/kg, but at 125Wh/kg it could be a very good solution for stationnary batteries. And if dry Na-ion can reach 3 times the actual result, it could be a solution for cars.
The other solution could be Li-Sulfur. 500Wh/l and 350Wh/kg is not unreachable by 2025.

AwakeinLA

Google Goodenough’s talks on Youtube. The guy is lucid and has wisdom of the ages wrapped up into one. He knows his stuff and then some.