When researchers this week at the University of Texas at Austin unveiled a new, promising lithium- or sodium-glass battery technology, it threatened to accelerate even rosy projections for battery-powered cars.
In 2014 Japanese researchers offered up a cotton-based new battery design that was touted as “Energy dense, reliable, safe, and sustainable.” And if the cotton battery is still going to change the world, its promoters could certainly use a new wave of press and media releases, as an Internet search on their technology today produces links that are no more current than 2014-2015 vintage.
On whose authority might one claim a glass battery could be any different?
Goodenough himself says that when he first coinvented the lithium-ion battery in the 1980s, almost no one in the battery or consumer electronics industries took the innovation seriously.
The new battery technology uses a form of glass, doped with reactive “Alkali” metals like lithium or sodium, as the battery’s electrolyte. As outlined in a research paper and recent patent filing, the lithium- or sodium-doped glass electrolyte offers a new medium for novel battery chemistry and physics.
Says lithium-glass battery codeveloper Maria Helena Braga, a visiting research fellow at UT Austin and engineering professor at the University of Porto in Portugal, the glass battery charges in “Minutes rather than hours.” This, she says, is because the lithium- or sodium-doped glass endows the battery with a far greater capacity to store energy in the electric field.