Sodium Makes Better Cheaper Rechargable BatteriesFor all the stories we post about batteries, very few seem to make it to market. Battery technology hasn’t gotten significantly better in years. But that may be changing soon. Sodium could be a better alternative to Lithium-ions for high energy density, rechargeable batteries.
Helping make it cheaper is the fact that the electrodes for this style batter would be made out of iron instead of nickel and cobalt, both of which are significantly more rare.
Varta lithium-ion battery, Museum Autovision, Altlussheim, Germany
In addition, sodium is significantly more common than lithium, and the batteries could be made for significantly less. Of course, existing battery technology would have to be completely redesigned to compensate for sodium’s larger atoms.
The energy density for the sodium battery is 520 mWhr/g, which is equivalent to LiFePO 4 batteries and 80 mWhr/g higher than LiMn2O4. This is despite sodium batteries technically having a lower capacity to carry voltage than lithium batteries, thanks to their larger size.
This is just the result of one group’s research into sodium batteries. Another team managed to achieve higher energy storage capacity and maintains that for 200 recharge cycles, which is impressive.
As always with these things, we won’t be seeing results from this research for years. Sodium-based batteries are still in their inception and it will take quite a while to make the technology robust enough to be put into consumer gadgets.
But even where it is right now is promising. In a few years we might see sodium batteries emerge as cheap, high-capacity alternatives to the Lithium-ion batteries that have been driving our gadgets. As said Christopher Johnson of the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois and a researcher working on sodium batteries, “Who knows where we’ll be in 10 years?”