Ion the Future: Former EV battery researcher wins Nobel prize

Toronto, Ontario — Oct. 16, 2019 — EV batteries will be in 15 percent of new vehicles sold in 2025, and the world is not ready, a Nobel Prize-winning chemist has said.

Akira Yoshino, a professor at Meijo University in Nagoya, Japan has been awarded the Nobel prize in chemistry for his development of lithium-ion batteries–the most popular type of battery used in modern EVs.

Yoshino and fellow researchers John B. Goodenough and M. Stanley Whittingham were named Nobel laureates after a reflection of the trio’s long history of battery research. Whittingham developed the first functioning lithium-ion battery in the early ‘70s, before Goodenough expanded the battery’s potential in the ‘80s. It was not until 1985 that Yoshino developed a safer prototype of the lithium-ion technology, introducing the world to the first commercially available lithium-ion battery.

The batteries are now used in everything from smartphones to EVs–being considered standard for the latter–acting as a compact but a robust and rechargeable power solution. Yoshino himself has said how excited he is about the technology’s impact on environmental changes.

“I’m very excited now,” Yoshino told reporters. “People in Stockholm are expecting that lithium-ion batteries will become one solution to environmental issues.”

Yoshino predicts that EVs will make up around 15 percent of new car sales by the year 2025, though he said the world will need to be able to meet higher demands for nickel and cobalt–a dependency that may only be feasible through recycling batteries. Nevertheless, Yoshino spoke to the kind of message he wants to send with his recent achievements, as well as address in his upcoming acceptance speech.

“I keenly feel that issues of the environment and abnormal weather are confronting us,” he told reporters, alluding to the recent Typhoon Hagibis that rocked Japan. “Words of a Nobel laureate can be a significant message to the world. I want to speak specifically about environmental issues.”


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