Goodenough for a Lifetime

Nobel prize winning inventor of lithium-ion battery, 97, still looking forward

How about this for a resume? See below:

Dr. John B. Goodenough, Professor, Cockrell School of Engineering, UT-Austin

-Invented lithium-ion battery

-Served as military meteorologist, U.S. Army, WWII

-Oldest Nobel Prize winner

-Still working at age 97


-Undergraduate degree, Yale University

-PhD, Physics, University of Chicago

-Researcher, Lincoln Laboratory, MIT

-Head of Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory, Oxford University

All of this would be plenty impressive alone. The acclaimed professor, is however, not yet satisfied, as he looks towards future energy storage solutions through a newly launched partnership with Energy Exploration Technologies (EnergyX).

Earlier this year, Goodenough, along with several members of his lab at UT, started working with EnergyX, a young energy technology company founded in 2018 by entrepreneur Teague Egan.

As the recipient of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Dr. Goodenough’s pioneering work on the lithium-ion battery led to a revolution in portable electronic devices. With that, Dr. Goodenough became the oldest Nobel Prize winner. He’s won a plethora of other awards, including the IEEE Medal for Environmental and Safety Technologies in 2011.

The big advantage of his original lithium-ion technology was that it stored about 10 times as much energy as lead-acid or 5 times as much as nickel-cadmium. “Dr. Goodenough’s support and wealth of knowledge is vital to achieving our mission of a dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels,” says James Ellsmoor, communications director at EnergyX, in a press release.

While heading the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory at Oxford University nearly 40 years ago, he discovered the feasibility of lithium cobalt oxide as a cathode material, which enabled the commercialization of the first rechargeable lithium-ion battery by the Sony Corporation.

From left to right: Top row – Teague Egan (EnergyX CEO), Dr. Benny Freeman (UT Professor of Chemical Engineering & EnergyX Science Advisory Board Chairman), TJ Dilenschneider (EnergyX Chief Science Officer), Kevin Reimund (EnergyX Director of Membrane Engineering), Bob Wowk (EnergyX CFO), Bottom Row – Dr. John Goodenough

Today the collaboration between the Goodenough’s lab at UT and EnergyX is meant to explore solid-state battery research and development. Back in May 2019, EnergyX executed a landmark licensing deal with UT for the worldwide exclusive rights to a large portfolio of intellectual property surrounding a new class of “miracle materials” called Metal Organic Frameworks and Mixed Matrix Membranes. Under the licensing agreement, EnergyX committed significant sponsored research funding to UT, part of which will go to fund Goodenough’s lab to tailor these materials for solid-state batteries.

Teague Egan, CEO of EnergyX, commented on the collaboration by saying: “It is truly an honor to be working with Dr. Goodenough and his group at UT. He is a legend in our industry and I am in awe of his accomplishments. I don’t know anyone else who is 97 years old, much less 80 years old, still working day in and day out to further his field. His experience and knowledge of the industry is unmatched.”

The benefits of solid-state batteries, according to companies like EnergyX, are primarily: heightened efficiency, faster charging, and the fact that they are safer. Solid-state batteries are capable of “10 times higher energy density” because they allow the use of a pure lithium metal anode,” the company claims, adding that they also allow up to six times faster charging with a longer life cycle per battery. Solid electrolytes are said to be “non-flammable”, as well, which would provide a safer alternative to current Li-ion batteries. Recent studies show that the heat generation inside the solid-state battery is only ~20-30% of conventional batteries with liquid electrolytes under thermal runaway.

Engineers working on renewable energy grids are starting to turn to lithium battery storage systems. By storing electricity generated when sunlight and wind are at their peak, lithium-ion batteries can reduce dependence on fossil fuel energy sources and help lessen the impact of climate change. Energy storage, most often using lithium-ion battery technology, is widely seen as necessary for transforming the electric grid to a carbon-free system and combating the effects of climate change. Most electricity in the United States — and in many other parts of the world — still currently come from fossil fuel sources, predominantly natural gas, but also coal.

EnergyX is headquartered in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with labs both in Austin and near Silicon Valley, and corporate offices in Fort Lauderdale and New York City.

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