” Nobel Prize for Chemistry 2019 – Giant leap in Battery Development for the Mankind ” – October 9, 2019.

          Power and virtue flowing from the Climate Change conundrum found a fitting and excellent expression in the Nobel Prize for Chemistry announced today.

           The 2019 Nobel Prize for Chemistry has been awarded to John B Goodenough,  M Stanley Whittingham,  and  Akira Yoshino – “for the development of lithium-ion batteries”,  the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced today.

           John B Goodenough is the oldest member (97) to be awarded this highly prestigious medal.

           From small to large gadgets/devices/products – mobile phones to bicycles and cars – gets the fillip needed in terms of a power source that is environmentally beneficial.

             In-depth research that started in 1971 went through several hurdles finding the right anode and cathode, that which can give the electron relatively easily for building the charge,  taming the reactivity of the lithium ion with water,  using layered titanium disulphide and later Cobalt oxide for lithium ions to leak better, use of carbonaceous  material,  utilizing high potential of Oxygen astutely, and  making the working efficient through hundreds of trials are just a few of the challenges that the scientists had to pass through successfully.

            Why is this phenomenal ?

          First, the battery is the marriage between Chemistry and Technology drawing from actually three disciplines – chemistry, physics, and engineering.

           Second, the benefits are reaped in terms of knowledge and application in real life events and situations.

          Third,  it has the potential to trigger high impact devices and products to be made without much damage to the external environment.

           Fourth,  satisfying the best qualities for batteries in terms of being  “light weight, rechargeable,  and powerful”.

          Fifth, serving as the harbinger for guiding access and path to future technological revolution.

          Sixth,  this will mark the shift from fossil fuel driven products to electronic ones.

          Seventh,  that the batteries can store energy from renewables like the solar and wind can promote added enthusiasm to other forms of energy improving the job opportunities.

          What is significant ?

           For nearly 30 years the lithium-ion batteries (since its commercialisation in 1991) have not been surpassed by any other new technology placing it in a league of its own.

          Future  :  What the batteries need in future is more lifespan and more energy packed inside. Aluminium as a better alternative to the existing cathode is thought of, but it expands and contracts too much during the cycle causing less than expected performance. Tsinghua University  and MIT  professors worked to solve the problem using nanoparticles. They found four-fold increase in capacity and three-fold increase in energy compared to graphite anodes with relatively easy scaling up to mass production. Next generation batteries may well use aluminium electrodes with longer battery life. If this happens, mobile devices, laptops, and other gadgets will get a big boost in terms of life span of a battery very soon. The battery life may well be a week, if not more than that.


   “Dieu avec nous”

   Wednesday, October 9, 2019 –  4.49 p.m. (IST)

   Tidbit : ”  ‘Curiosity’  and not money or fame was the driving force in this discovery”  –  Akira Yoshino, Nobel laureate.



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