Dawn of the SUPER-BATTERY? Engineer who invented lithium ion cell is developing battery that is 60% more powerful | Daily Mail Online
Dawn of the SUPER-BATTERY? Engineer who invented lithium ion cell is developing battery that is 60% more powerful

  • Professor John Goodenough is attempting to create a new type of battery
  • The new battery could increase the amount of energy stored by 60 per cent
  • He claims it could allow electric cars to compete with fossil fuel vehicles
  • It could also solve the problem of storing electricity from renewable energy
  • Professor Goodenough helped to create the first lithium ion battery in 1979
  • The technology made it possible to power personal electronic devices
  • Without his invention iPhones, laptops and digital cameras would not exist

The man who invented the lithium battery - which now powers almost every portable device on the planet - claims he may have another world-changing invention up his sleeve.

Professor John Goodenough first demonstrated that lithium cobalt oxide could be used to create a rechargable battery capable of storing energy in 1979 at Oxford University.

Now, aged 92 and at the University of Texas at Austin, he is working on a new type of 'super battery' that could change the way we use electricity.

He claims the development would solve the problem of storing excess electricity produced by wind turbines in heavy winds and also mean solar power could be stored.

It may also allow electric cars to have ranges that can surpass those powered by traditional fossil fuels.

The ever-growing power demands of smartphones could also be met, meaning they could last for days on a single charge rather than a few hours.

Speaking in an interview with Quartz, Professor Goodenough said: 'I want to solve the problem before I throw my chips in.

'I'm only 92. I still have time to go.'

Professor Goodenough, and his team of engineers, is attempting to crack one of the toughest problems in battery science.

Currently, lithium ion batteries use a metal compound as the positive electrode from which ions flow to a negative electrode made from carbon.

Professor Goodenough instead wants to use pure lithium or sodium metal as the negative electrode.

This would, in theory, allow batteries to store 60 per cent more energy than current lithium ion batteries.

That would also mean electric cars - which currently have a maximum range of up to 265 miles on a single charge - could make much longer journeys before needing to be recharged.
It could also allow new ways to economically store power produced by renewable energy.

Currently, sources such as wind turbines must be 'switched off' during periods of low demand as the energy they produce cannot be stored.


An Israeli company says it has developed technology that can charge a mobile phone in a few seconds and an electric car in minutes.

Using nano-technology to synthesize artificial molecules, Tel Aviv-based StoreDot says it has developed a battery that can store a much higher charge more quickly, in effect acting like a super-dense sponge to soak up power and retain it.

While the prototype is currently far too bulky for a mobile phone, the company believes it will be ready by 2016 to market a slim battery that can absorb and deliver a day's power for a smartphone in just 30 seconds.

The innovation is based around the creation of 'nanodots', which StoreDot describes as bio-organic peptide molecules.

Nanodots alter the way a battery behaves to allow the rapid absorption and, critically, the retention of power.
However, using lithium or sodium metal in batteries has proven difficult in the past - these metals are incredibly unstable and catch fire explosively when exposed to water.

Professor Goodenough claims he is on the path towards solving this problem.

Most attempts to improve the performance of batteries have been incremental by tweaking their design to improve charging time and storage.

Electric car pioneers such as Tesla have managed to make improvements and can now achieve a range of around 312 miles from its largest batteries.

But these are not cheap- costing around $100,000.

Other electric cars, like Nissan's Leaf, are more affordable but only have ranges of around 120 miles.

Professor Goodenough said that while tinkering with the design of current batteries will bring about some improvements, he believes using all metal electrodes could transform the technology.

He said: 'You need something that will give you a little bit of a step, not an increment.'

Professor Goodenough was part of the team that first proved that rechargeable batteries could be created using lithium cobalt oxide and lithium metal as the two electrodes.

In 1991 Sony combined the lithium cobalt oxide cathode with a carbon anode to produce the first commercial rechargable battery.

The technology has since allowed laptop computers and mobile phones to become smaller and more powerful.

Professor Goodenough's breakthrough has won him many acolades and regular nominations for a Nobel Prize.

He claims scientists like himself have three decades to crack the problem of new super batteries if they want to avoid the impending shortages with fossil fuel energy resources.

He said: 'Were going to have wars on wars fighting over the last reserves of this, that or the other and were going to have global warming beyond anything we can bear.

'There are a lot of people working, and none of them is stupid. I dont say Im the only one who can solve the problem.'