With energy demands increasing every day, researchers are looking toward the next generation of energy storage technology. While society has depended on the lithium ion battery for these needs for some time, the rarity and expense of the materials needed to produce the battery is beginning to conflict with large-scale storage needs.
To combat this issue, a French team comprised of researchers primarily from CNRS and CEA is making gains in the field of electrochemical energy storage with their new development of an alternative technology for lithium ion batteries in specific sectors.
Instead of the rare and expensive lithium, these researchers are focusing on the use of sodium ions—a more cost efficient and abundant materials. With efficiently levels comparable to that of lithium, many commercial sectors are showing an increasing interest for sodium’s potential in storing renewable energy.
While this development takes the use of sodium to a new level, the idea has been around since the 1980s. However, sodium never took off as the primary battery building material due to low energy densities and short life cycles. It was then that researchers chose to power electronics with lithium for higher efficiency levels.
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Now that researchers are beginning to move beyond the lithium battery, sodium is next in line. Many believe it could lead to next-gen energy storage and all around chapter batteries. The French researchers are beginning to pave that path by developing a sodium battery that moves sodium ions from one electrode to another in a liquid during the charge and discharge cycles.
Advantages of Sodium
This from CNRS:
Its energy density (the quantity of electricity that can be stored by Kg of battery) amounts to 90Wh/kg, a figure already comparable with the first lithium-ion batteries. And its lifespan—the maximum number of charge/discharge cycles that a battery can withstand without any significant loss of performance—exceeds 2,000 cycles. But most of all, these cells are capable of charging and delivering their energy very rapidly.
While its technical capabilities may be impressive, the researchers still state the main goals of the sodium battery is in its abundance and price point.