University researchers partner with Canadian company to produce battery

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UT researchers have announced a partnership with the world’s largest hydroelectric producer to patent a revolutionary rechargeable battery designed at the University.

Engineering professor John Goodenough used an innovative combination of materials to create the lithium ion battery, which will be produced by Canadian-based company Hydro-Québec for use in commercial products around the world.

Goodenough said he researched a variety of cathode materials to design rechargeable batteries that were significantly lighter and longer lasting than alternatives. He said his batteries were also safer for consumer use and more environmentally friendly.

“This is the type of battery that gets put into things such as your cell phone, your laptop or your iPod,” Goodenough said. “We are also working on expanding it for use in hybrid electric cars.”

Goodenough has worked with Hydro-Québec since 1996 to develop the batteries. He said the partnership for patents would allow the company to mass-produce the key materials for the batteries and sell them to manufacturers to propel the commercialization process for his design.

“This is important for the wireless revolution,” Goodenough said. “We’ve done a variety of things with it, and I’ve been very happy with my relationship with Hydro-Québec. They’ve been very helpful on furthering the commercialization of our development.”

Goodenough said the partnership is an example of important and profitable developments that can result from supporting long-term research projects at the University.

“I think it’s important that fundamental research continue and that people who do that work have an eye to what is interesting for science, but also what is important for the commercial world,” Goodenough said. “That is part of our responsibility to society.”

Juan Sanchez, the University’s vice president of research, said in a press release that the partnership showed the value of prioritizing research initiatives at the University.

“This agreement is indicative of the value of university research and will accelerate the commercialization of a key technology with a wide range of applications in the energy sector,” Sanchez said. “We are pleased that a company with the stature of Hydro-Québec is committed to the advancement of UT inventions.”

Recent UT sociology graduate Zehra Zaid said it is important to continue initiatives such as this because they increase the prestige of the University.

“If we partner with major companies, that attracts more people to apply to the school,” Zaid said. “If we were to limit these opportunities, then UT wouldn’t be accredited for its innovation.”

Printed on 07/18/2011 as: Energy company partners with UT to patent battery