John Goodenough was the head of a team in 1980 that reached a scientific breakthrough that ultimately led to the creation of lithium-ion batteries. It was a big deal at the time, and now just about every battery-powered device in your home uses lithium-ion, and so does your phone and probably any hybrid vehicle you might own as well. But, while lithium-ion batteries do have a higher energy density than other technologies, they also have some serious drawbacks.
First, if the demand for lithium continues to grow, it could become very scarce in the near future. Plus, on top of that, they are combustible, take a fair amount of time to charge, and still can’t provide us with the type of energy we need for electric vehicles to really take off. But, Mr. Goodenough – who is now 94 years old – has been working with a team at the University of Texas and has made a new breakthrough in battery technology – the solid-state battery.
So what are the benefits of this potential new technology? Well, the batteries are cheap to make in comparison, don’t require elements like lithium to work, are noncombustible, and are longer lasting. They also charge faster and can perform in subzero weather. That’s huge, considering we’re throwing lithium-ion batteries into cars like the element is going out of style (and, it could, with the demand for hybrid and electric vehicles expected to increase steadily over the foreseeable future). But it could take considerable time before solid-state battery technology actually makes it to the market.
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