The 2015 $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize has gone to Jay Whitacre for his invention of the Aqueous Hybrid Ion (AHI) battery. The battery, used primarily in combination with solar and wind energy systems, was created using abundant and non-toxic resources including salt water and carbon. Whitacre, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Engineering, is also the founder of Aquion Energy, which manufacture and sell the battery in several countries worldwide.

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Whitacre is a mentor and also a prolific inventor, who has created innovative solutions such as thin-film solid state batteries, ultra-low temperature carbon-fluorine electrode materials, and implantable neuroprosthetic devices. “We are proud to recognize Jay Whitacre as this year’s Lemelson-MIT Prize winner,” said Joshua Schuler, executive director of the Lemelson-MIT Program. “He personifies the mission of Lemelson-MIT through his commitment to mentorship, his desire to solve some of our world’s greatest problems, and his ability to commercialize his technologies.”

Related: Researchers develop a battery clean enough to eat

The Aqueous Hybrid Ion (AHI) battery presents a solution for renewable energy’s most difficult problem: how to store the energy when the sun is down or the wind stops blowing. Until now, most solutions have involved expensive batteries created using toxic materials. The aqueous battery is relatively inexpensive to produce and, as Whitacre himself once demonstrated by taking a bite out of his own product, it’s clean enough to eat.

+ Aquion Energy

Via MIT News