IBM invents heavy metal and cobalt-free battery
Arne Verheyde

IBM announced last week that it has discovered a breakthrough new battery technology without heavy metals and with superior characteristics as lithium-ion batteries. Instead, the new battery is based on three new materials that can be extracted from sea water, leading to improved sustainability. IBM is partnering with other companies to commercialize the technology.

IBM Research claims that its new battery technology outperforms lithium-ion batteries on all levels:

· Lower cost: because there is no cobalt, nickel and other heavy metals in the cathode, as those are resource-intensive to source

· Faster charging: less than five minutes to reach 80% capacity Higher power density: over 10,000 W/L (Wikipedia cites 1500 W/kg for lithium-ion)

· High energy density: 800 Wh/L (Wikipedia cites 680 Wh/L for lithium-ion)

· Excellent energy efficiency: over 90% (Wikipedia cites 80-90% for lithium-ion)

· Low flammability of electrolytes

IBM in particular stresses the heavy metal-free nature of the new battery, improving the long-term sustainability of batteries. IBM Research’s Battery Lab instead has used three “new and different proprietary materials”, which it says have never before been combined in a battery. The company did not disclose the materials, but says they can be extracted from seawater to lay the groundwork for less invasive sourcing techniques than mining.