IBM Research says new battery design lacks heavy metals, can perform better than lithium-ion

The IBM Research battery is built with materials extracted from seawater and would minimize the need to mine.

IBM Research's new battery design promises more efficiency, no need for heavy metals

IBM Research said it has created a battery design that doesn't use heavy metals and could ultimately outperform lithium-ion batteries on multiple fronts.

The IBM Research battery is built with materials extracted from seawater and would minimize the need to mine. The IBM Research battery uses a cobalt and nickel free cathode material along with a safe liquid electrolyte with a high flash point. This combination reduces flammability as it suppresses lithium metal dendrites during charging.


 A researcher working with a Differential Electrochemical Mass Spectroscopy (DEMS) System in the IBM Research Battery Lab, which measures the amount of gas that has evolved from a battery cell during charging and discharging cycles.


In addition, IBM Research has signed joint development agreements with Mercedes-Benz Research and Development North America; Central Glass, a battery electrolyte supplier; and battery manufacturer Sidus.

What's interesting about IBM Research's battery design is that it could outperform existing batteries in cost, charging time, power, flammability and efficiency without heavy metals such as nickel and cobalt. The win would be more sustainability along with performance.

According to IBM Research, batteries without sourcing issues could be applied to more markets and use cases. IBM said its battery design can charge to 80% in less than 5 minutes and be used in electric vehicles in the future.

Another use case could be for flying vehicles and electric aircraft as well as power grids. Key benefits of IBM Research's battery design would be:

  • Lower costs due to the lack of heavy metals.
  • Less than 5 minutes to reach an 80% state of charge.
  • Offer more than 10,000 W/L power density and exceeds lithium-ion technology.
  • Feature energy density topping 800 Wh/L, a measure comparable to lithium-ion batteries.
  • And have more than 90% energy efficiency.

To advance the battery's performance, IBM Research said it is using and artificial intelligence technique to identify new and safer materials.