Lithium Ion batteries and the Nobel Prize in Chemistry – 2019

-Dr Goutam Singh Ningombam
Contd from previous issue
However, the discovery is still lauded with a limitation that themetallic lithium is reactive and the battery was too explosive to be viable. Further, the reversibility was very challenging and less impressive.
He was awarded the Battery Division Research Award by The Electrochemical Society, United States in 2003 in recognition of his research and development of the intercalation electrodes. The Internal Battery Materials Association (IBA) also awarded him the IBA Yeager Award for Lifetime contribution to Lithium Battery Materials Research. He had been honored and recognized by many learned scientific bodies for his pioneering works in energy storage materials.
John BannisterGoodenough
Professor J. B. Goodenough is an American solid-state physicist born in 1922 in Jena Germany to an American parent.He did his Ph.D. in 1952 from the University of Chicago, USA. He is a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and also served as the Cockrell Chair in Engineering at the University of Texas, Austin, USA.He became the oldest Nobel laureate (at 97 years old) in history. He is still working to find another breakthrough in battery technology.
After the development made by Whittingham, several attempts were made by others to increase the charging and discharging efficiency. Most importantly, Exxon have improvised the method for commercial batteries which used lithium metal as the anode and titanium disulfide as the cathode. However, it encourages the use of Lithium perchlorate in dioxolane as the solvent. It was later replaced by tetramethyl borate as the electrolyte. Still, the battery developed by Exxon faced the issue of short circuiting and a potential fire hazard. Then in 1979-1980,the efforts of Goodenoughhave enabledto double the potential of the Whittingham’s rechargeable Li-ion battery from just two volts to four volts. At Oxford University, along with his coworkers, he found out that lithiated cobalt dioxide (LixCoO2) which was analogous to lithiated titanium disulfide (LixTiS2) could serve as cathode material. He systematically demonstrated that cobalt oxide with intercalated lithium ions is more advantageous than the titanium sulphide and can produce as much as four to five volts. His study proved that the lithium ions were sufficiently mobile in close packed oxygen arrays.It created a powerful battery with higher energy storage capacity and discharging efficiency. In their studies, LiBF4 in propylene carbonate is used as electrolyte and lithium metal or lithium doped vanadium pentoxide (Li0.1V2O5) as counter/reference electrodes. Professor J. B. Goodenough received a number of awards in due recognition of his contribution to battery technology. He was awarded the Charles StarkDraper Prize in 2014 by the U.S. National Academy of Engineering. He received the Welch Award in Chemistry in 2017 which was conferred by the Robert Alonzo Welch Foundation to encourage and recognize basic chemical research for the benefit of mankind.The Royal Society, formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, awarded him the Copley Medal in 2019 “in recognition of his exceptional contributions to the science and technology of materials, including his discovery that led to rechargeable lithium batteries”. Also, he has been awarded the National Medal of Science by the President Barack Obama of the United States in 2013. The Royal Society of Chemistry granted the John B. Goodenough Award in honor of this Nobel laureate to those who contribute to the fields of materials chemistry. Many more memberships and awards were garnered in his credits.
Akira Yoshino: Professor Akira Yoshino is a Japanese Chemist at the Meijo University in Nagoya. He was born in 1948. With Goodenough’s cathode as a basis, Akira Yoshino created the first commercially viable lithium-ion battery in 1985. Rather than using reactive lithium in the anode, he used petroleum coke, a carbon material that, like the cathode’s cobalt oxide, can intercalate lithium ions. His idea of the presently known form of the safe and reliable Li-ion battery was patented in 1983 at the European Patent Office. It was the extended research of this patent that has presented the production-viable rechargeable battery used commonly nowadays in many portable smart electronic devices. The Li-ion battery developed by Yoshino is based on what is called ion transfer cell configuration. The anode is lithium packed carbonaceous material and thecathode is Goodenough’slithiated cobalt dioxide material typically containing a small amount of tin. In his battery, the lithium perchlorate (LiClO4) in propylene carbonate was used as electrolyte and a polyethylene or propylene as separator layer. His newly developed battery can be damaged by a weight without causing any fires or explosions. Ultimately, the discovery and the subsequent developments lead to the release of commercial Li-ion battery in 1991. The first commercialized Li-ion battery used a petroleum-coke base anode material, lithiated cobalt dioxide as the cathode and a water-free electrolyte composed of LiPF6 in propylene carbonate. This battery has a charging voltage of upto 4.1 V, with a recorded energy density of about 80 Wh/kgor 200 Wh/L. And the Li-ion battery became the toughest competitor in the battery market.  He did his Ph.D. in 2005 from Osaka University, Japan. He is currently an Honorary Fellow at Asahi Kasei Corporation, Tokyo, Japan. He heads the Japan’s Lithium Ion Battery Technology and Evaluation Centre. He continues his works at the Asahi Kasei to boost the safety and efficiency of Li-ion batteries. He was awarded the Chemical Technology Prize (March 1999) by the Chemical Society of Japan, BatteryDivision Research Award(October 1999)by The Electrochemical Society, United States for achievements in the development of the lithium-ion battery. In 2001, the New Technology Development Foundation (Ichimura Foundation) conferred him the Ichimura Prizes in Industry – Meritorious Achievement Prize for his efforts in the development and commercialization of the lithium-ion battery. Some other mentionable awards include the Global Energy Prize (2013), Charles Stark Draper Prize (2014) and the Japan Prize (2018).Recently, he had been awarded the European Inventor Award this year by theEuropean Patent Office. He had also garnered several other awards from various learned scientific bodies.
The writer is MSc, PhD, UGC-JRF-NET, former Guest Faculty, CSIR-Research Associate, Dept of Chemistry, MU