New battery tech likely to spread electric vehicles faster than most can imagine

Racing after Tesla, every week now another car company rolls out the timeline for its own fleet of electric vehicles. Neanderthal naysayers notwithstanding, the world is moving to EV and most people are recognizing that the business opportunity here is massive. Last month, John Goodenough, coinventor of the lithium-ion battery, announced a battery breakthrough, that is likely to accelerate EV tech and adoption faster than most imagined. Exciting stuff. This is what innovation does. See: Will a New Glass battery accelerate the end of oil?

Electric car purchases have been on the rise lately, posting an estimated 60 percent growth rate last year. They’re poised for rapid adoption by 2022, when EVs are projected to cost the same as internal combustion cars. However, these estimates all presume the incumbent lithium-ion battery remains the go-to EV power source. So, when researchers this week at the University of Texas at Austin unveiled a new, promising lithium- or sodium-glass battery technology, it threatened to accelerate even rosy projections for battery-powered cars.

“I think we have the possibility of doing what we’ve been trying to do for the last 20 years,” says John Goodenough, coinventor of the now ubiquitous lithium-ion battery and emeritus professor at the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas, Austin. “That is, to get an electric car that will be competitive in cost and convenience with the internal combustion engine.” Goodenough added that this new battery technology could also store intermittent solar and wind power on the electric grid.

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