Nobel Prize awarded in Chemistry for the development of Lithium-Ion Batteries

John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino, 2019 Nobel Laureates in Chemistry. Copyright © Nobel Media 2019. Illustration: Niklas Elmehed

The University of Birmingham would like to congratulate John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittinghamand Akira Yoshino for securing the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the development of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries.

“Lithium-ion batteries have revolutionised our lives since they first entered the market in 1991. They have laid the foundation of a wireless, fossil fuel-free society, and are of the greatest benefit to humankind” The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Today, Li-ion batteries are an integral part of modern society. These lightweight batteries power smartphones, laptops, electric cars, cordless vacuum cleaners, digital cameras and even electric toothbrushes. However, the UK does not have the raw materials to manufacture these batteries and does not yet have the capability to recycle them.

Paul Anderson, School of Chemistry, says "Lithium-ion batteries are a truly transformative invention and represent a great technological accomplishment both for the Nobel Laureates and the discipline of materials chemistry. It is telling that one of the prize-winners, Akira Yoshino, has identified recycling as the key to a sustainable electric vehicle revolution".

To secure UK supply and continue to meet societies growing demand for Li-ion batteries researchers in the Birmingham Centre for Strategic Elements and Critical Materials at the University of Birmingham are exploring ways to recycle Li-ion Batteries through their Faraday Institution, Recycling of Li-ion Batteries (ReLiB) project.

Led by the University of Birmingham, the ReLiB project comprises eight academic institutions and 14 industrial partners working collaboratively to understand the conditions required to ensure the sustainable management of lithium-ion batteries when they reach the end of their useful life. This will enhance the overall efficiency of the supply chain and ensure that the UK has the facilities required for safe, economic and environmentally sound management of the materials contained in lithium-ion batteries.