Fully Charged: New Battery Tech Update

June 4, 2020

IEEE Spectrum:

A rapid-charging and non-flammable battery developed in part by 2019 Nobel Prize winner John Goodenough has been licensed for development by the Canadian electric utility Hydro-Québec. The utility says it hopes to have the technology ready for one or more commercial partners in two years.

Hydro-Québec, according to Karim Zaghib, general director of the utility’s Center of Excellence in Transportation Electrification and Energy Storage, has been commercializing patents with Goodenough’s parent institution, the University of Texas at Austin, for the past 25 years.

As Spectrum reported in 2017, Goodenough and Maria Helena Braga, professor of engineering at the University of Porto in Portugal, developed a solid-state lithium rechargeable that used a glass doped with alkali metals as the battery’s electrolyte. (The electrolyte is the material between cathode and anode and is often a liquid in today’s batteries, which typically means it’s also flammable and potentially vulnerable to battery fires.)

Braga said her and Goodenough’s battery is high capacity, charges in “minutes rather than hours,” performs well in both hot and cold weather, and that its solid-state electrolyte is not flammable.

“For the next two years we do research and development in order to prove the concept and to scale the materials,” Zaghib said.

Hydro-Québec’s research lab, which Zaghib says comprises 120 people, works with both early-stage technologies like the Goodenough glass battery and also with technologies already at commercial scale.

This latter category includes another Goodenough invention, the lithium iron phosphate battery.

“This is one of the safest materials for lithium ion today,” Zaghib said. “It’s used for electric buses and for energy storage.”

Beginning in 1996, Zaghib says, Goodenough and Hydro-Québec struck up a partnership to commercialize this lithium battery. Licensees of this technology include the now Chinese-owned A123 and the Japanese battery company Murata Manufacturing.

Zaghib says that although the utility has been researching lithium batteries since 1967, it’s currently concentrating only on solid-state batteries. The Goodenough/Braga glass battery is what Zaghib calls a “third-generation” solid-state battery.

Hydro-Québec does have a so-called “first-generation” solid-state battery already in the marketplace, Zaghib said.

Blue Solutions is a French company using our lithium polymer license … for electric buses and energy storage,” he said.

The utility’s first-generation lithium battery dates back, Zaghib said, to more than 40 years ago. “Hydro-Québec was the first company to work on true lithium batteries in 1979,” he said.

The utility recently announced that it’s working with Daimler Benz to develop a second-generation lithium solid-state battery.

2 Responses to “Fully Charged: New Battery Tech Update”

  1. Sir Charles Says:

    Toyota Reveals PROACE Electric With 15 Year/1 Million Km Battery Warranty

    Toyota officially introduces the all-electric PROACE Electric delivery van (hinted in 2019) in selected European markets. Reservations are already being accepted and the first units will be delivered in October 2020.

  2. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    “For the next two years we do research and development in order to prove the concept and to scale the materials,” Zaghib said.

    That’s an important caveat. Just remember that, like the great difference between a successful animal trial and a mass-produced effective drug, there is still a perilous gap between university/engineer proof-of-concept of a technology and the scaling up of resource development, testing and distribution (throw in patent wars and international IP risks).

    I’m heartened by the testing in hot and cold weather.

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