Electronics

Researchers create sodium battery in industry standard "18650" format

Researchers create sodium batt...
A new "18650" battery uses the transfer of sodium ions rather than lithium ions to store and release electricity
A new "18650" battery uses the transfer of sodium ions rather than lithium ions to store and release electricity
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Plugging a cell for basic research on sodium-ion (Na-ion) battery materials
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Plugging a cell for basic research on sodium-ion (Na-ion) battery materials
A new "18650" battery uses the transfer of sodium ions rather than lithium ions to store and release electricity
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A new "18650" battery uses the transfer of sodium ions rather than lithium ions to store and release electricity
Assembling a cell to test sodium-ion (Na-ion), battery materials in a glove box
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Assembling a cell to test sodium-ion (Na-ion), battery materials in a glove box

A team of researchers in France has taken a major step towards powering our devices with rechargeable batteries based on an element that is far more abundant and cheaper than lithium. For the first time ever, a battery has been developed using sodium ions in the industry standard "18650" format used in laptop batteries, LED flashlights and the Tesla Model S, among other products.

"The sodium-ion battery unveiled today is directly inspired by lithium-ion technology," explains solid-state chemist Jean-Marie Tarascon from France's Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.

In other words, like the lithium ions in lithium-ion batteries, sodium ions travel from one electrode to another through liquid during charging and use cycles without modifying the materials in the battery. The researchers are keeping those specific materials a trade secret for now, but the performance of the prototype battery is promising.

"Its energy density is comparable to certain lithium-ion batteries, such as the lithium-ion iron/phosphate battery," points out Loïc Simonin, a collaborating researcher at LITEN (Le Laboratoire d'Innovation pour les Technologies des Energies Nouvelles).

Plugging a cell for basic research on sodium-ion (Na-ion) battery materials
Plugging a cell for basic research on sodium-ion (Na-ion) battery materials

While lithium has until now had the advantage of being lighter than sodium and providing more energy, the element is also rare, while sodium is accessible and abundant, making up over 2.6 percent of the Earth's crust.

The team is hoping to bring inexpensive sodium-ion batteries that can be used across a wide variety of applications to market in Europe as soon as possible.

"The 18650 format enables us to provide proof of concept , and compare the performance of our batteries with those of similar format that are already available on the market. However, other formats will need to be designed to meet new requirements," explains Simonin.

Source: CNRS

19 comments
Derek Howe
Awesome, great work! Always a good thing to have your common made things, out of something that isn't a rare mineral.
Tom Lee Mullins
I think that is good news for battery and hybrid vehicles.
mhpr262
Lithium isn't that rare. There may be a temporaray shortage because AFAIK demand is going up so fast that production can't keep up, but the element itself is plentiful. There are gigantic reserves that have remained untapped so far, and the batteries are fully recyclable.
gizmowiz
Super good news!
Robert Bernal
No info about charge cycles, voltage, amphours? At least it was compared to the lifepo4 which still retains about 80% of capacity after 2,000 charge/discharge cycles. However, I don't believe the sodium ion would last that long. Eventually, research on the material sciences of graphene might make a better battery and a stronger "ship".
stabilizer
This could be a game changer. Just as people are figuring out how to dramatically increase efficiency of portable fuel power, we are about to make it obsolete.
bhtooefr
Wonder how much improvement in energy density is possible, and what kind of power density is possible. A123 LiFePO4s have about the same energy density, and about 30 A delivery from a single 18650 (at 39 g). However, a modern LiNiCoAl battery has about 2.5x the energy density (but only about 10 A delivery from a ~46.5 g cell).
SpearShaker
Super cool
Kie
Very interesting, would love some more concrete numbers on these batteries like haw fast do they charge, how does partial charging affect them - do they have memory problems, how long do they last compared to your run-of-the-mill li-ion batteries? How well do the scale - would they be good for cheap grid storage? Or for home solar PV battery backup?
Slowburn
Given its disadvantages against lithium I would concentrate my development for more stationary applications like storing solar for night use.