Microsoft’s Solution to Combat Excessive and Dangerous Lithium Consumption

The lithium battery causes environmental damage in certain regions of the world. (Illustrative image by Infobae)

Microsoft unveiled a discovery that could change the battery industry. In collaboration with the US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), the company uses artificial intelligence develop a new material that promises to reduce dependence on lithium in batteries.

This component is present in most modern devices, although it is a limited resource and is currently only produced by countries such as Australia, Chile, China and Argentina. Additionally, its use in batteries poses environmental and safety concerns.

Global lithium demand is expected to will double by 2028, driven mainly by the growth of the electric mobility market, which poses challenges in terms of sustainability and affordability.

In response to this problem, the company has developed a new battery material that is not only efficient and safe, but also significantly reduces the reliance on the material found in most batteries today.

The result of this project was a solid-state electrolyte consisting of lithium, sodium and other chemical elements, capable of reduce lithium content in batteries by up to 70%.

The company has found a combination of components that can improve battery production. (Microsoft)

Microsoft used its artificial intelligence technology, specifically its Azure Quantum Elements product, to speed up the discovery of this development. Instead of relying on traditional methods, which can take decades, artificial intelligence algorithms digitally examined more than 32 million potential materials in just 80 hours.

This approach has identified more than 500,000 stable candidates, simplifying the path to selecting the right components and running tests.

Collaboration with PNNL played a key role in this phase of the project. Collaboration with this laboratory allowed Microsoft to test not only known materials, but also to discover completely new ones, previously unknown and not found in nature.

This material, in the form of a solid-state electrolyte, has proven its ability to successfully power a prototype battery, offering the potential to reduce reliance on lithium in the near future.

The lithium battery causes environmental damage in certain regions of the world. (Illustrative image by Infobae)

Vijay Murugesan, PNNL’s research director, highlights concerns about resource limitations and geographic concentration of elements, including lithium. The extraction of this component is associated with environmental problems, and its shortage on the market creates problems for the development of battery technologies.

“One of the main focuses of our work at PNNL has been the search for new materials to meet the growing energy storage needs of the future; “Sustainable materials that conserve and protect the Earth’s limited resources,” Murugesan said in a statement posted on Microsoft’s official blog.

This achievement not only represents technological progress in improving battery manufacturing conditions, but also demonstrates the potential of artificial intelligence in scientific discoveries.

In its official blog, Microsoft calls the discovery the “first real-world example” of what will become a series of advances in this new era: the ability of AI to process large amounts of data and come up with innovative solutions in a matter of hours, instead of weeks or years.

Although the prototype battery has proven effective in powering a light bulb, the researchers know they still have a long way to go.

Industrial testing and ongoing evaluation of the new solid-state electrolyte is critical before this technology can gain widespread adoption, so it’s unclear when we might see this new component inside a device.

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