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IBM EV Battery Breakthrough Requires No Heavy Metals

Recently we talked about a new program that aims to keep track of how the heavy metals mined in Africa that is used in EV batteries are sourced. The goal is to ensure that the cobalt used in EV batteries aren’t mined by slave or child labor. While the EV industry, particularly Ford, works with others to track how these heavy metals are produced, IBM has made a breakthrough in battery construction that may eliminate the need for those heavy metals.

IBM researchers have made a battery discovery that not only eliminates the heavy metals, but the outperforms traditional lithium-ion batteries as well. The researchers believe that this battery tech could have a real impact on the price of EVs while improving EV battery performance. IBM says that it used three new and different proprietary materials that have never been recorded as being combined in a battery.

The materials that are used in the battery can be extracted from seawater laying the groundwork for less invasive sourcing techniques than current mining methods. In initial tests, the new battery proved capable of surpassing lithium-ion batteries in several categories, including lower cost, faster charge time, higher power and energy density, more energy efficiency, and low flammability.

IBM notes that the new battery uses a cobalt and nickel-free cathode and a safe liquid electrolyte with a high flash point. Current tests have shown that less than five minutes of charge time is required for the battery when configured for high power to reach an 80 percent state of charge. IBM says that the power density for the battery also holds promise for electric aircraft and flying vehicles. The battery can achieve more power density at 10,000 W/L than lithium-ion can achieve. IBM is working with automotive and industry partners on the battery tech but notes that plans for developing the battery are in the exploratory phase.

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Source: IBM

Shane is a car guy with a fondness for Mustangs and off-roading.

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  1. Raymond Ramirez

    IBM is always at the forefront of technology, as every computers presently sold and used worldwide have some IBM product in it. IBM invented DRAM, hard drives, magnetic tape, floppy drives, electronic typewriters (the standard keyboard is an IBM design based from the Personal Computer!), multiple tasking in operating systems, memory paging, memory cache, multiple core processors, surface mounted technology (SMT), and many more. It held ownership of Intel and helped develop the first 32-bit microprocessor. Later IBM worked with Motorola and Apple to design and build the 64-bit Power architecture that is still in use (Power Macs). IBM holds the record for the most patents submitted and completed per year! And its Watson supercomputer is the most advanced A.I. ever built, winning “Jeopardy!” against two world champions.

    1. Raymond Ramirez

      I forgot to add that the very first computer on Mars is in the Pathfinder lander in 1997. It has a single chip version of the RISC 6000 computer, now sold on Earth as the “Power PC” technology, which was co-developed by IBM with Apple and Motorola.

  2. gareth

    What a brilliant idea hopefully this technology will become mainstream for EV batteries and it sounds a lot more environmentally friendly then the process at the moment.

  3. Battery bubbles

    There are lots of battery bubbles going around in this internet world. None of them has ever worked in real world. Show us the BATTERY!

    1. Raymond Ramirez

      Knowing IBM’s past record of business successes (“Business” is their middle name), this concept will become a reality but , as in all battery technologies, it will take time to become a commercial item.


    IBM has a research center down the street from me for decades. They have a huge pool of 7 universities close by to pick the best of the best grads. They can do joint research with those universities, bring the products to the market much faster. I’m sure that this gathering of materials from seawater makes this a game changer. The biggest market for these batteries are in light trucks, in which the buyers will spend the extra money to save on fuel for combined gasoline/electric hybrid trucks. The other huge market is forklift trucks that are used inside buildings. Car batteries can be reduced in size and weight, saving at least 15 pounds on a normal car battery. GM wants to bring at least 20 hybrid electric cars to the market over the next 5 years.


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