IBM proposes sustainable successor to lithium-ion battery

By Rima Sabina Aouf / dezeen

IBM has developed a new type of battery that's free of cobalt, nickel and other heavy metals, avoiding the environmental and humanitarian issues related to lithium-ion technology.

The battery is made from three materials that can be extracted from seawater, a much less invasive sourcing method than mining.

IBM Research, the innovation arm of tech company IBM, says there is no record of these materials, which include lithium iodide and a new and proprietary electrolyte formulation, previously being combined into a battery.

IBM is developing a more sustainable battery

Importantly, they have also proved that the battery outperforms lithium-ion versions, so it has the potential to improve electric vehicles and energy storage.

When optimised for performance, the battery has a higher power density than lithium-ion, meaning potentially smaller batteries that could be transformative for technology like electric aircraft.

In addition, it takes only five minutes to reach an 80 per cent charge, a length of time similar to filling up a tank of petrol at a service station. It is also low-cost, thanks to the materials sourcing method, and has low flammability, so it is safer to use.

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