Scientists and engineers have been on the look out for an alternative energy storage means in order to overcome the limitations associated with lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. The new technology is firstly supposed to be cheaper, and secondly, it should not come at a cost of lower performance.
Over the recent years, a lot of attention has been put on sodium ion (Na-ion) batteries. These have always been heavier than their Li-ion rivals, however, they have a huge advantage- the main element, sodium, is much cheaper and much more readily available. A lot has been done in terms of research, however not much (if not nothing) has been turned into a viable product for mass production and use. Until now, that is.
A team of French scientists from the Laboratory of Innovation for New Energy Technologies – LITEN, developed a prototype that demonstrates great feasibility of Na-ion batteries. Their device is of the 18650 standard, which is most commonly found in laptops, flash lights, and the Tesla Model S, among others.
The concept behind the Na-ion battery is just the same as it is in the Li-ion- ions travel between electrodes through a liquid. For now, the only chemical that is reveled by the team is the sodium, as the rest would remain a trade secret probably until a patent is granted.
In terms of performance, the new Na-ion battery has similar density to lithium-ion iron/phosphate batteries, which are already on the market, but it is a lot cheaper. The prototype holds quite a bit of promise for the future use.
The team behind the battery is hoping to be able to bring their product to the market very soon. They are currently aiming to introduce it to Europe first, and make it suitable for a wide range of applications.
Image (c) Gully/CEA