Sidus teams with IBM for heavy metal-free battery design

December 24, 2019 //By Rich Pell
Heavy metal-free battery design could alleviate environmental concerns
IBM Research, working with Chinese battery maker Sidus, says it has discovered a chemistry for a new battery that does not use heavy metals such as cobalt.

The chemistry, say the researchers, uses three new and different proprietary materials that have never before been recorded as being combined in a battery. The materials for the battery are able to be extracted from seawater, laying the groundwork for less invasive sourcing techniques than current material mining methods. Sidus says it will lauch the battery technology in 2020.

"Just as promising as this new battery’s composition is its performance potential," says IBM. "In initial tests, it proved it can be optimized to surpass the capabilities of lithium-ion batteries in a number of individual categories including lower costs, faster charging time, higher power and energy density, strong energy efficiency and low flammability."

The design uses a cobalt and nickel-free cathode material, as well as a safe liquid electrolyte with a high flash point. This combination of cathode material and electrolyte, say the researchers, demonstrated an ability to suppress lithium metal dendrites during charging, thereby reducing flammability, which is widely considered a significant drawback for the use of lithium metal as an anode material.

IBM is working with Sidus, Mercedes-Benz Research and Development North America and battery electrolyte supplier Central Glass to create a battery development ecosystem around the new technology.

"This discovery holds significant potential for electric vehicle batteries, for example, where concerns such as flammability, cost, and charging time come into play," says the company. "Current tests show that less than five minutes are required for the battery – configured for high power – to reach an 80 percent state of charge. Combined with the relatively low cost of sourcing the materials, the goal of a fast-charging, low-cost electric vehicle could become a reality."

When optimized for very high-power density - such as will be needed for flying vehicles and electric aircrafts - the new battery design exceeds more than 10,000 W/L, outperforming the most powerful lithium-ion batteries available. In addition, say the researchers, tests have shown this battery can be


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