With lithium batteries being the most desirable mean for powering devices, it is inevitable that their main disadvantage is highlighted. The element that powers them is considerably expensive and it is expected that the price will rise with the increasing number of electric vehicles on the market.
Hence, scientists from around the world have been trying to test alternatives, which can come into a direct competition with the “gold” in the industry. Associate Professor Shahbazian-Yassar from Michigan Technological University is one of these people. He believes that sodium is the alternative that everyone is looking for. It is cheap and abundant in huge quantities, especially in seawater.
Of course, there is a reason why sodium was not used in first place. The atoms of the element are around 70% larger than these of lithium. This makes the electrodes wear off much faster.
The National Science Foundation granted funding to the team led by Shahbazian-Yassar at Michigan to develop the “long-lasting rechargeable sodium battery”.
The team has a unique tool at their disposal to do this. A transmission electron microscope will be used to observe the behavior of atoms during charging and discharging of the batteries. Ultimately, they would like to find out what materials and electrodes are best suited to host sodium.
Sodium batteries do not necessarily need to beat the characteristics of the lithium ones. According to Shahbazian-Yassar it is enough that they meet the requirements of the consumers, making electric cars more affordable and therefore more desirable and attractive.
Now, if the batteries are charged using renewable sources, they will surely be the next best thing!