John Goodenough, professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin and co-inventor of the lithium-ion battery, recently published a paper on the development of a new battery technology. The new technology uses glass doped with alkali-metal atoms such as lithium or sodium as the battery electrolyte (the medium that transports the ions between the anode and the cathode during battery charging or discharging).
They find, for instance, that the lithium- or sodium-glass battery has three times the energy storage capacity of a comparable lithium-ion battery. But its electrolyte is neither flammable nor volatile, and it doesn’t appear to build up the spiky “dendrites” that have plagued lithium-ions as they charge and discharge repeatedly and can ultimately short out, causing battery fires. Besides, the glass battery charges in “minutes rather than hours and early tests of their technology suggest it’s also capable of perhaps thousands of charge-discharge cycles, and could perform well in both extremely cold and hot weather. (Initial estimates place its operating range between below -20º C and 60º C.)
Goodenough said that his team is ready to welcome the golden moment. The next step is to solve the issues with the cathode. Commercialization is possible after practical application testing.