Nobel Prize in Chemistry goes to three who developed lithium ion batteries

October 9, 2019 • 7:00 am

From the Swedish Academy of Sciences, we have today’s Prize announcement (click on screenshot to go to page giving the details):

And the tweets:

The winners get only about $300,000 each, but of course the cachet exceeds that by far. Still, that’s probably about two years’ salary for these guys. The Swedish Academy should ante up more!


Here’s the official announcement, which will be live and is coming up:

22 thoughts on “Nobel Prize in Chemistry goes to three who developed lithium ion batteries

  1. Awesome!

    A rare industry-based laureate. I think the last one was for electrospray ionization mass spec.

    1. It’s always fun to whip a lithium ion battery if it gets fat and puffed up too. 🙂 People always get nervous if I poke them.

  2. The products discussed are all consumer goods – I wonder if large commercial or government/military vehicles will ever be li-ion battery based.

    Im pleased to report li-ion battery snow throwers, lawn mowers, and leaf blowers work well. One mower I used was shown in the slide.

    1. I have a Li-ion mower as well. And a trimmer for the same battery pack. The mower is considerably lighter than the gas ones I had before.
      I will look at the snow blower.

    2. Lithium Ion batteries are used as power stations for the storage of electricity. There are a few of those scattered around the world.

        1. Sorry. Just realized you were talking about the semi-truck, not the pickup truck. Both seem very cool and I wish Tesla luck with them, and not only because I own some of their stock.

      1. We’ve seen pictures and heard about big orders for those years ago. I’ll believe it will when I see them hauling freight down the road.

  3. John Goodenough got his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1952. There is a great article on him at his website –

    Goodenough was an Army meteorologist during WWII. He entered UofC in a program for returning veterans. He and the other vets were told by co-Manhattan Project leader John A. Simpson – “Don’t you know anyone who’s done anything important in physics has already done it by your age?”

    Simpson was wrong. And Goodenough, at age 97, still works in his lab.

    Not sure if this is sad news or something that should be celebrated – He was married to Irene Wiseman, a graduate student in history who he met and married at the University of Chicago, until her death in 2016.

    There is an interview/story in the UofC Alumni Magazine from 2016.

    From that article – “I have learned to be open to surprises, not have preconceived ideas or close your mind from listening to what might work.”

    Hope I can be that sharp and have that attitude AND make it to 97.

    1. Prof. John Goodenough, SM’50, PhD’52, said of his Nobel win: ‘Live to 97, and you can do anything.’

  4. Minor quibble. I suspect scientists working on battery technology make more than $150k per year even without a Nobel Prize, counting more than just their university salaries. The world is hungering greatly for improved battery technology.

  5. The Swedish Academy should ante up more!

    It used to be a lot less. The amount is based on what they have in reserve capital, which originated with Alfred Nobel’s original bequest, and some years back it was a lot less. But then sometime in the ’70s, I think, there was an effort to shift their investment strategy, and that was successful, enabling awards per category of around US$1M. But the Swedish Kronor has fallen vs. the dollar in recent yrs, from something like 7 to the dollar vs around 10 now and they also cut the amount back by 20% a few yrs back.

  6. Lithium is great…extracting it, not so much. The environmental cost of extracting Lithium and other battery chemicals like Cobalt doesn’t get much press. I read an article about this recently and it wasn’t pretty.

    1. You should watch the movie Anthropocene. There is a section showing that exactly. The whole movie was depressing except when they showed Russians in the salt mine having tea and the one guy joked, “this is going to say, ‘instead of working, the Russians drink tea'” and when it was confirmed that the audio was being recorded he said, “we love our jobs and are very happy”. Hilarious.

      1. Thanks for the movie tip. I reluctantly watch films about how humans are destroying the planet. It’s good to know, but the knowing makes me feel hopeless sometimes.

  7. The Swedish Academy should ante up more!

    What is it with scientists not knowing about the Nobel Prize, it’s just search away:

    “According to the official sources, Alfred Nobel bequeathed from the shares 94% of his fortune to the Nobel Foundation that now forms the economic base of the Nobel Prize.[25] … The Nobel Foundation is exempt from all taxes in Sweden (since 1946) and from investment taxes in the United States (since 1953).[30] Since the 1980s, the Foundation’s investments have become more profitable and as of 31 December 2007, the assets controlled by the Nobel Foundation amounted to 3.628 billion Swedish kronor (c. US$560 million).[31] … The capital of the Nobel Foundation today is invested 50% in shares, 20% bonds and 30% other investments (e.g. hedge funds or real estate). The distribution can vary by 10 percent.[32] At the beginning of 2008, 64% of the funds were invested mainly in American and European stocks, 20% in bonds, plus 12% in real estate and hedge funds.[33]

    In 2011, the total annual cost was approximately 120 million krona, with 50 million krona as the prize money. Further costs to pay institutions and persons engaged in giving the prizes were 27.4 million krona. The events during the Nobel week in Stockholm and Oslo cost 20.2 million krona. The administration, Nobel symposium, and similar items had costs of 22.4 million krona. The cost of the Economic Sciences prize of 16.5 Million krona is paid by the Sveriges Riksbank.[32]”

    [ ]

    4000 billion krona would capitalize at some percentage, 120 million seems reasonable. If they “ante up more” than the shares bring, the prize money will eventually disappear.

Leave a Reply to George Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *