Software is easy, hardware is hard, and batteries are damned near impossible. There’s no Moore’s Law for batteries. That’s why whispers of improvements in battery tech are so interesting and important.
We bet you’ve never heard the name John Bannister Goodenough, although your life without his work would be a whole lot different without him. Goodenough invented the LiIon battery — or, at least, made the breakthrough that made it possible and commonplace.
According to a fascinating article in Quartz, it turns out that Goodenough, who is 92 years old, isn’t done yet. He’s got another idea: making anodes out of pure lithium or sodium. That hasn’t been done before because lithium and sodium have the nasty habit of burning when they get wet. Wet sodium looks like this:
You think you have problems dropping your phone in the toilet now?
But if it could be done, you would have batteries with 60 percent more energy than LiIon. Which is why Goodenough gets out of bed in the morning.
The article’s author, Steve LeVine, has written a book called The Powerhouse: Inside the Invention of a Battery to Save the World. It looks like a fascinating read.