(Reuters) — International Business Machines on Wednesday said it has come up with a new battery technology that uses materials extracted from seawater and requires no cobalt, as the race to find alternative sources to the expensive mineral intensifies. IBM said it has partnered with the research wing of Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz, battery electrolyte supplier Central Glass, and battery manufacturer Sidus for the commercial development of the new design.
“The goal would be, within a year or so, to have the first working prototype (of the battery),” said Jeff Welser, vice president at IBM Research. IBM may not necessarily end up making a product using the design, Welser added.
The move comes as top battery makers are scrambling to reduce cobalt content in lithium-ion batteries, and as the expansion of the electric vehicle market is expected to result in shortages of the mineral mainly found in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
IBM said its technology has proven to outperform lithium-ion batteries in cost, charging time, and energy efficiency.