The three scientists each had a set of unique breakthroughs that cumulatively laid the foundation for the development of a commercial rechargeable battery.

Asahi Kasei honorary fellow Akira Yoshino, 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry winner, speaks on the phone with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, October 9, 2019.
Asahi Kasei honorary fellow Akira Yoshino, 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry winner, speaks on the phone with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, October 9, 2019. (Reuters)

Three scientists won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Wednesday for their work leading to the development of lithium-ion batteries, which have reshaped energy storage and transformed cars, mobile phones and many other devices — and reduced reliance on fossil fuels that contribute to global warming.

The prize went to John B Goodenough, 97, a German-born engineering professor at the University of Texas; M Stanley Whittingham, 77, a British-American chemistry professor at the State University of New York at Binghamton; and Japan's Akira Yoshino, 71, of Asahi Kasei Corporation and Meijo University.

Goodenough is the oldest ever recipient of a Nobel Prize.

The three each had a set of unique breakthroughs that cumulatively laid the foundation for the development of a commercial rechargeable battery.

The Nobel committee said the lithium-ion battery has its roots in the oil crisis in the 1970s, when Whittingham was working to develop methods aimed at leading to fossil fuel-free energy technologies.

"We have gained access to a technical revolution," said Sara Snogerup Linse, of the Nobel committee for chemistry. "The laureates developed lightweight batteries with high enough potential to be useful in many applications — truly portable electronics: mobile phones, pacemakers, but also long-distance electric cars."

"The ability to store energy from renewable sources — the sun, the wind — opens up for sustainable energy consumption," she added.

Speaking at a news conference in Tokyo, Yoshino said he thought there might be a long wait before the Nobel committee turned to his specialty — but his turn came sooner than he thought.

Yoshino said he broke the news to his wife. "I only spoke to her briefly and said, 'I got it,' and she sounded she was so surprised that her knees almost gave way."

The trio will share a 9-million kronor ($918,000) cash award, a gold medal and a diploma that are conferred on December 10 — the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel's death in 1896 — in Stockholm.

Source: AP