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9 October 2019

Nobel price for inventors Lithium ion battery

On Wednesday afternoon, the American John Goodenough (on the picture), the British Whittingham and Japanese Akira Yoshino received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the development of the Lithium-ion battery. The Nobel Committee stated that the three gentlemen are responsible for the "rechargeable world" and that they have tamed a reactive element. The winners receive more than €825,000,- for further scientific research.

 

The origin of the lithium-ion battery dates from the 70s during a major oil crisis. In a search for energy sources that are independent of fossil fuels, Whittingham discovered the great electrical potential of lithium ions. He invented a battery with a potential of two volts. However, the battery turned out to be unusable due to the risk of explosion, due to the reactive nature of lithium.

 

Goodenough added two important developments to the battery. First of all, he placed the cathode (plus) of the lithium ions in a cobalt oxide environment. He also raised the potential to 4 volts. Goodenough is the oldest Nobel Prize laureate ever at the age of 97. Goodenough was awarded the National Medal of Science in 2013. This was handed out by Barack Obama at the time (see image).

 

Yoshino was responsible for the development of the first lithium battery suitable for commercial use in 1985. Yoshino replaced the anode (min) with a matrix of carbon (coke) which is a by-product from oil refining. All this resulted in a lightweight secondary (rechargeable) battery that would last countless cycles.

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