Three scientists on Wednesday won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work leading to the development of lithium-ion batteries, which have reshaped energy storage and transformed cars, mobile phones and many other devices — and reduced reliance on fossil fuels that contribute to global warming.
The prize went to John B. Goodenough, 97, a German-born engineering professor at the University of Texas; M. Stanley Whittingham, 77, a British-American chemistry professor at the State University of New York at Binghamton; and Japan’s Akira Yoshino, 71, of Asahi Kasei Corporation and Meijo University.
The three each had a set of unique breakthroughs that cumulatively laid the foundation for the development of a commercial rechargeable battery.
Goodenough is the oldest ever recipient of a Nobel Prize.
The Nobel committee said the lithium-ion battery has its roots in the oil crisis in the 1970s when Whittingham was working to develop methods aimed at leading to fossil-fuel-free energy technologies.
“We have gained access to a technical revolution,” said Sara Snogerup Linse, of the Nobel committee for chemistry. “The laureates developed lightweight batteries with high enough potential to be useful in many applications — truly portable electronics: mobile phones, pacemakers, but also long-distance electric cars.”
“The ability to store energy from renewable sources — the sun, the wind — opens up for sustainable energy consumption,” she added.