John B. Goodenough is quite the man. As if making it through life to the age of 94 with that name wasn't enough of an achievement, he also has a blue plaque on the wall in Oxford that commemorates his part in proving up the concept of the lithium-ion battery that makes life so bearable these days. And he's still making the batteries.
Goodenough's now working on solid-state batteries, with his team at the University of Texas at Austin claiming they're the latest bunch to crack this potentially disruptive new form of power. The all-solid-state battery cells are noncombustible, apparently robust enough to take today's high number of charging cycles and, critically for everything that's electric, have three times the energy density as current li-ion cells.
The new cell uses a combination of glass electrolytes and an alkali-metal anode to pull of their tricks, with the solid-state setup allowing for higher charging rates to be used without damaging the internals. It also works well at low temperatures, which could solve electric cars owners' cold weather range worries.
A chuffed Goodenough said: "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." [UT]