Lithium-ion batteries recently gained popularity because of its far superior performance compared to lead-acid batteries. What if you were told that a new material has been discovered that can outperform even the Li+ batteries? Sodium, an element far more abundant than lithium, is expanding its claim to fame in the battery field. A new study from a Japanese university has suggested that Sodium-ion could relatively easily replace lithium-ion in batteries.
The popular lithium-ion battery has several benefits. It is rechargeable and has high life cycle. It is also ideal for deep discharge applications as it has a DOD of 90%. It also has a wide application spectrum. They are used in devices such as laptops and cell phones as well as in hybrid and fully electric cars.
One downside to lithium is the fact that it is a limited resource. Moreover, it is very expensive. Given increased demand for battery-powered devices and particularly electric cars, the need to find an alternative to lithium, one that is both cheap as well as abundant is becoming urgent.
Sodium-ion batteries are an attractive alternative to lithium-based ion batteries due to several reasons. Sodium is not a limited resource, it is abundant in the earth’s crust as well as in seawater. Also, sodium-based components have a possibility to yield much faster charging time given the appropriate crystal structure design.
Challenges associated with Sodium-ion:
However, sodium cannot be simply swapped with lithium used in the current battery materials, as it is a larger ion size and slightly different chemistry. Therefore, researchers are requested to find the best material for sodium ion battery among vast number of candidates by trial-and-error approach.
New approach with a new structure:
Scientists at NITech have found a rational and efficient way around this issue. After extracting about 4300 compounds from crystal structure database, the researchers identified that Na2V3O7 demonstrates desirable electrochemical performance as well as crystal and electronic structures. This compound shows fast charging performance, as it can be stably charged within 6 min. Besides, the researchers demonstrated that the compound leads to long battery life as well as a short charging time.
“Our aim was to tackle the biggest hurdle that large-scale batteries face in applications such as electric cars that heavily rely on long charge duration. We approached the issue via a search that would yield materials efficient enough to increase a battery’s rate performance.”
According to researchers involved in sodium batteries, these would be best suited for stationary energy storage installations.
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