Novel Lithium Battery Creator Wins European Inventor Award
Esther Sans Takeuchi, a chemical engineer from the United States, received this year’s European Inventor Award for developing lithium batteries to power implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs).
The European Patent Office (EPO) awarded Takeuchi in the non-EPO countries category on June 7.
Takeuchi’s batteries are made of lithium and silver vanadium oxide. They extend the power source lifespan of ICDs to about five years. The battery has enabled more patients to use ICDs and avoid surgery.
An ICD is a device that doctors implant in the chest or abdomen. They use it to regulate irregular heartbeats in a condition called arrhythmias.
It can be a life-saving device and control sudden cardiac arrest. The device uses electrical pulses or shocks to reset the heart if it stops beating due to a cardiac arrest.
Before Takeuchi’s invention, ICDs were bulky and lasted about a year. Since they were big, they could only be placed in the abdomen. Moreover, patients had to undergo surgery to have them replaced every year.
Now, ICDs are compact and more efficient. They last five years and can be placed under the collarbone like pacemakers. They have one million times higher power than the old batteries.
Companies have already incorporated lithium silver vanadium oxide batteries into other medical implantable devices and pumps, such as those which manage cardiac rhythm and neurostimulation.
The industry is always on the lookout for efficient and cost-effective ways to power devices. Takeuchi’s novel batteries have the potential to be used in other products such as electric vehicles and smartphones.
Takeuchi developed the new battery model using a new cathode, a highly conductive electrolyte, and a cell design that enabled higher power.
The anode, as with most batteries, is made of lithium as it can provide energy in high volume. Takeuchi’s idea to add silver vanadium oxide gives the cells higher power. In addition, vanadium gives them a longer life.