IBM develops new battery using seawater minerals instead of heavy metals

IBM research has unveiled a new battery discovery that could help eliminate the need for heavy metals in battery production, proving to be a more sustainable option.

Instead of relying on cobalt and nickel, both of which pose tremendous environmental and humanitarian risks, the battery is made from three materials that can be extracted from seawater.

Using three new and different proprietary materials, which have never before been recorded as being combined in a battery, our team at IBM Research has discovered a chemistry for a new battery which does not use heavy metals or other substances with sourcing concerns. The materials for this battery are able to be extracted from seawater, laying the groundwork for less invasive sourcing techniques than current material mining methods.

shared Young-hye Na, Manager of Materials Innovations for Next-Gen Batteries at IBM Research on the company’s website.

IBM researchers work in the IBM Research Battery Lab to combine and test unique materials and formulations for more sustainable battery technologies.

The discovery holds significant potential for electric vehicle batteries, for example, where concerns such as flammability, cost and charging time come into play. Current tests show that less than five minutes are required for the battery – configured for high power – to reach an 80 percent state of charge.

While IBM Research’s battery is currently in an early stage of development, the organisation has partnered with Mercedes-Benz Research and Development North America as well as battery companies Central Glass and Sidus to further develop the technology.