IBM has developed a new kind of battery free of cobalt, nickel and other heavy metals, avoiding the environmental and humanitarian issues related to lithium-ion technology. This new battery is made from materials that can be extracted from seawater, a much less invasive method of sourcing than mining.

These materials include lithium iodide and a new and proprietary electrolyte formulation which, according to IBM Research, have not previously been combined into a battery. They have also proved that the battery outperforms lithium-ion versions, giving it the potential to improve electric vehicles and energy storage.

On top of this, the battery only takes five minutes to reach an 80% charge – a length of time similar to filling up a tank of petrol at a service station. Thanks to the materials sourcing method it is also low-cost and it has low flammability, making it safer to use.

“This new research could help eliminate the need for heavy metals in battery production and transform the long-term sustainability of many elements of our energy infrastructure,” Young-Hye Na, manager of materials innovations for next-generation batteries at IBM Research’s lab in Almaden, California, wrote in a blog post.

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