MOSCOW (MIPT) — Following the Wednesday announcement of this year’s Nobel laureates in chemistry, we talked to Dmitry Semenenko, who heads the Energy Storage Lab at MIPT’s Institute of Arctic Technology. He is available to comment on lithium-ion batteries and energy storage technology in general. Below are some of the thoughts he shared:

“By the time this year’s Nobel laureates published their key research, the notion of using lithium in chemical energy sources was not new. Such devices had already existed, but those were energy sources rather than batteries. They could only be recharged once or twice. What Akira Yoshino and his colleagues did was not made of metallic lithium when charging, eliminating the risk of short circuits. The result was a power source packing six times as much energy as a lead-acid battery of the same weight, which relied on 19th-century technology.

“The next major discovery was that of a lithium iron phosphate battery. While it did not achieve a breakthrough in energy density, it had the important advantage of delivering similar quality for a much lower price. John B. Goodenough played a key role in its discovery by predicting the material that could be the positive electrode in the device. More than half of all modern electric vehicles are powered by such batteries. They are responsible for the electric car boom that we are experiencing.

“As for M. Stanley Whittingham, it should also be noted that he came up with the idea of replacing the conventional cobalt oxide in the positive electrode with its alternative form where part of cobalt atoms was replaced by manganese and nickel. It is these multicomponent mixed oxides that are now used in phone and laptop batteries.”

Dmitry Semenenko is a researcher at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. He can be reached by contacting Varvara Bogomolova or Nicolas Posunko of the MIPT Press Office.

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