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Legendary Li-ion battery boffin John Goodenough to develop gel power packs with South Korea’s SK Innovation • The Register

South Korean battery-maker SK Innovation will team up with 2019 Nobel Prize-winner John Goodenough to develop a new solid-state gel battery.

Goodenough is best known as part of the team of scientists that invented the rechargable lithium-ion battery during the 70s and 80s. The team, which also included British-American chemist M Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino of Japan, were awarded last year’s Nobel Prize in chemistry for their work.

SK Innovation reckons that the new battery, which will use a solid-state gel-polymer electrolyte, will be safer and store more energy than lithium-ion batteries.

One problem with li-ion batteries is that they produce dendrites, tiny metal whiskers that grow on the anodes of lithium-ion batteries. These can pass through the liquid electrolyte and shorten the life of the battery, or, in some cases, cause short-circuits that lead to fires.

Li-ion batteries also have lower energy density compared to solid-state solutions. This could have a big impact when it comes to EVs, which need energy-dense batteries to extend their driving range, as well as to how long phone batteries last.

Goodenough’s new battery will not produce dendrites, which should put out future fires. It will also be more energy dense, as well as smaller and lighter, suiting it to use in electric vehicles.

“The goal is to develop a microporous polymer matrix with weakly-coordinating-anion system that can be applied to larger, more powerful cells,” SK Innovation said in a statement.

Goodenough, who just turned 98, is also developing a glass battery that he claims grows in storage capacity over time. Hydro-Quebec, Canada’s largest electricity producer, hopes to commercialise the tech within two years.

SK Innovation is the R&D arm of South Korea’s SK Group, which also owns memory-maker SK Hynix. ®

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