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Texas Professor Wins Nobel Prize for Battery Innovation

Nobel Foundation Recognizes Goodenough's Contribution to the Battle Against Climate Change

By Michael Coleman

Public Citizen’s Texas office extends its deeply appreciative congratulations to John B. Goodenough, a University of Texas professor awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work developing lithium-ion batteries.

Goodenough, a 97-year-old member of the faculty at UT’s Cockrell School of Engineering, is the oldest Nobel laureate ever. He shares the award with Akira Yoshino, 71, and M. Stanley Whittingham, 77, who co-created the battery with him at the University of Oxford. At a time when clean energy technologies are improving rapidly, the efficient, affordable and convenient deployment of battery storage like that pioneered by Goodenough remains a major hurdle to a fossil fuel-free future.

“Live to 97 (years old) and you can do anything,” Goodenough said in a statement released by UT on Wednesday. “I’m honored and humbled to win the Nobel prize. I thank all my friends for the support and assistance throughout my life.”

The Nobel Foundation recognized Goodenough, Yoshina and Whittingham specifically for their role in diminishing the use of climate warming fossil fuels.

“Through their work, they have created the right conditions for a wireless and fossil fuel-free society, and so brought the greatest benefit to humankind,” the Foundation said.

According to a news release from UT, Goodenough identified and developed the critical materials that provided the high-energy density needed to power portable electronics, and in the process helped to usher in the wireless revolution. Today, batteries incorporating Goodenough’s cathode materials are used worldwide for mobile phones, power tools, laptops, tablets and other wireless devices, as well as electric and hybrid vehicles.

“Billions of people around the world benefit every day from John’s innovations,” said Gregory L. Fenves, president of The University of Texas at Austin and former dean of the Cockrell School. “In addition to being a world-class inventor, he’s an outstanding teacher, mentor and researcher. We are grateful for John’s three decades of contributions to UT Austin’s mission.”