MIT unveils organic electric car battery

C&I Issue 2, 2024

Read time: 2 min


Say goodbye to cobalt? MIT unveils organic battery for cleaner, faster-charging cars.

Car batteries that use organic materials instead of critical materials like cobalt could power cars of the future, say Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US, researchers.

The team devised a lithium-ion battery containing a cathode made of organic materials which consists of many layers of bis-tetraaminobenzoquinone, otherwise known as TAQ.

According to the study published in ACS Central Science (doi: 10.1021/acscentsci.3c01478), the organic molecule can form a structure similar to graphite. Within the molecules are chemical groups called quinones, which researchers state helps the material form strong hydrogen bonds to make the material highly stable and insoluble.

‘One of the main methods of degradation for organic materials is that they dissolve into the battery electrolyte and cross over to the other side of the battery, essentially creating a short circuit. If you make the material completely insoluble, that doesn’t happen. So, we can go to over 2000 charge cycles with minimal degradation,’ explains MIT professor Mircea Dincă, a senior author of the study.

The researchers claim that the organic material can be produced at lower financial and environmental cost than cobalt batteries and can conduct electricity at similar rates. The new battery is also said to have comparable storage capacity and can be charged faster than cobalt batteries.

The work has already attracted interest from industry, with auto manufacturer Lamborghini licensing a patent for the technology.

‘Innovation in electrification and specifically battery chemistry will facilitate the transition of the automotive industry to zero-emission solutions. In the automotive industry we have seen significant investment in battery chemistries that can reduce the burden on critical materials like cobalt,’ says Chris Jones, Strategic Trends Manager at Advanced Propulsion Centre UK.

‘Critical materials are called so as they are hard to source, either due to scarcity or geopolitical instability in supply chains. This is why research that reduces the need for such materials is so interesting to industry. What is exciting about this research is that the reduction in critical materials requirement does not yet appear to come with a downside. There is still a long way to go from lab-based research to commercialisation, and issues may still be found along the way, but we will watch with interest.’