The 77-year-old British-American chemistry professor at the State University of New York at Binghamton is one of three scientists who won this year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The breakthroughs the three achieved made storing energy from renewable sources more feasible and opened a new front in the fight against global warming.
Whittingham said in a phone interview with The Associated Press that he and fellow researchers thought their work in the 1970s would be helpful, but "never dreamed it would revolutionize electronics."
Whittingham says long-lasting batteries that are reasonably priced can help solve climate issues because wind and solar energy can be stored much more effectively.
Nobel chemistry prize winner Akira Yoshino said lithium-ion batteries are indispensable for creating a low-carbon society powered by renewable energies so the world can reduce its carbon emissions.
Electric vehicles carrying lithium-ion batteries can be used as electricity storage, and can help promote sustainable use of solar-generated power and other energy sources, such as wind power.
He said lithium-ion batteries are crucial for electric vehicles and but they go much further.
He said, "When electric vehicles are more widely used, they create giant power storages and help promote solar and wind power generation, which tends to be unstable. It contributes to a better environment."
Yoshino said, "We must create a society where electricity is generated by renewables in order to resolve the climate change problem."
Akira Yoshino says his Nobel Prize co-recipient John B. Goodenough is like his father.
He praised the American scientist for continuing research despite his old age — Goodenough is now 97.
Yoshino, who is 71, said the two scientists have developed a friendship over the years through their research, and that he has visited Goodenough in Texas almost every year.
Now they are more than just research partners. "For him, I'm like his son. He takes very good care of me."
The two scientists were awarded the Nobel chemistry prize on Wednesday along with fellow researcher M. Stanley Whittingham, 77.
John B. Goodenough one of the winners of this year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry together for his work leading to the development of lithium-ion batteries, is the oldest ever recipient of the prestigious award.
Goodenough, 97, a German-born engineering professor at the University of Texas, beat Arthur Ashkin, who at age 96 last year was awarded the physics prize.
The two have some years on Leonid Hurwicz, third on the list of oldest Nobel laureates, who was 90 when he got the 2007 Economic Sciences Nobel.
At the bottom of the age list is Malala Yousafzai, who was 17 when she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.
Wednesday's prize went to Goodenough; M. Stanley Whittingham, 77, a British-American chemistry professor at Binghamton University, the State University of New York; and Japan's Akira Yoshino, 71, of Asahi Kasei Corporation and Meijo University.
One of the winners of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry says he hopes the recognition will help to shine a "much needed light" on the future of energy.
M. Stanley Whittingham issued a statement on Wednesday through Binghamton University, State University of New York.
"The research I have been involved with for over 30 years has helped advance how we store and use energy at a foundational level, and it is my hope that this recognition will help to shine a much-needed light on the nation's energy future," he said.
Whittingham said he is "overcome with gratitude" and has so many people to thank that he doesn't know where to begin.
Akira Yoshino was confident the discoveries he worked on would win the Nobel Prize, but he didn't expect it to happen quite so soon.
Speaking at a news conference in Japan Wednesday, Yoshino said the Nobel chemistry prize covers such a broad range of studies that he had expected a long wait before the Nobel committee would turn to the area of devices, like lithium-ion batteries.
"I thought we would have to wait for a long time, so I used to say to people that it may be a long wait but we will definitely win as long as our turn comes," the 71-year-old said. "Still, surprise, surprise!"
Yoshino said he broke the news to his wife. "I only spoke to her briefly and said 'I got it,' and she was so surprised that her knees almost gave way."
The 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded to John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino for the development of lithium-ion batteries.
The Nobel Committee said: "Lithium-ion batteries have revolutionized our lives and are used in everything from mobile phones to laptops and electric vehicles. Through their work, this year's Chemistry Laureates have laid the foundation of a wireless, fossil fuel-free society."
With the glory comes a 9-million kronor ($918,000) cash award to be shared, a gold medal and a diploma. The laureates receive them at an elegant ceremony in Stockholm on Dec. 10 the anniversary of Nobel's death in 1896 together with five other Nobel winners. The sixth one, the peace prize, is handed out in Oslo, Norway, on the same day.
The 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry will be announced Wednesday, a day after the Physics award was given to a Canadian-American cosmologist and two Swiss scientists.
On Monday, the award for Physiology or Medicine went to two Americans and one British scientist. And on Thursday come two literature laureates, while the coveted Nobel Peace Prize is Friday and the economics award on Monday.
The 2018 literature prize was suspended after a scandal rocked the Swedish Academy. The body plans to award it this year, along with announcing the 2019 laureate.
Read more stories on the 2019 Nobel Prizes by The Associated Press at https://www.apnews.com/NobelPrizes