Sodium is the new lithium: Researchers find a way to boost sodium-ion battery performance

February 1, 2019, Nagoya Institute of Technology
A high-throughput computation for Na migration energies is conducted for about 4,300 compounds in the inorganic crystal structure database, which the compound indeed exhibited excellent high-rate performance and cyclic durability; in detail, the compound exhibits stable 10C cycling, which corresponds to the rate of only six minutes for full charge/discharge, and ca. 94 percent capacity retention after 50 charge/discharge cycles at room temperature. These results are comparable with or outperform representative cathode materials for sodium ion batteries. Credit: NITech

Researchers at the Nagoya Institute of Technology (NITech) in Japan have demonstrated that a specific material can act as an efficient battery component for sodium-ion batteries that will compete with lithium-ion batteries for several battery characteristics, especially speed of charge.

The finding was published in Scientific Reports in November of 2018 and the study was headed by Naoto Tanibata, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor at the Department of Advanced Ceramics at NITech.

The popular have several benefits—they are rechargeable and have a wide application spectrum. They are used in devices such as laptops and cell phones as well as in hybrid and fully electric cars. The electric vehicle—being a vital technology for fighting pollution in rural areas as well as ushering in clean and sustainable transport—is an important player in the efforts to solve the energy and environmental crises. One downside to lithium is the fact that it is a limited resource. Not only is it expensive, but its annual output is (technically) limited (due to drying process). Given increased demand for -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 for 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. However, sodium cannot be simply swapped with lithium used in the current battery materials, as it has a larger ion size and slightly different chemistry. Therefore, researchers are tasked with finding the best material for sodium ion battery among vast numbers of candidates by a trial-and-error approach.

Scientists at NITech have found a rational and efficient way around this issue. After extracting about 4300 compounds from a crystal structure database and following a high-throughput computation of these compounds, one of them yielded favorable results and was therefore a promising candidate as a sodium-ion battery component. The researchers identified that Na2V3O7 demonstrates desirable electrochemical performance as well as crystal and electronic structures. This compound promises fast charging performance, as it can be stably charged within 6 min. The researchers also demonstrated that the compound yields 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 that heavily rely on long charge durations. We approached the issue via a search that would yield materials efficient enough to increase a battery's rate performance".

Despite the favorable characteristics and overall desired impact on , the researchers found that Na2V3O7 underwent deterioration in the final charging stages, which limits the practical storage capacity to half of the theoretical one. As such, in their future experiments, the researchers aim to focus on improving the performance of this material so that it can remain stable throughout the entire duration of the charging stages. "Our ultimate goal is to establish a method that will enable us to efficiently design battery via a combination of computational and experimental methods," Dr. Tanibata adds.

Explore further: New high-capacity sodium-ion could replace lithium in rechargeable batteries

More information: Naoto Tanibata et al, Nanotube-structured Na2V3O7 as a Cathode Material for Sodium-Ion Batteries with High-rate and Stable Cycle Performances, Scientific Reports (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-35608-9

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dirk_bruere
not rated yet Feb 01, 2019
Sodium is dirt cheap, but not Vanadium
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Feb 01, 2019
Sodium is dirt cheap, but not Vanadium

And there's more vanadium in the battery than sodium.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Feb 01, 2019
Sodium is not a limited resource—it is abundant in the earth's crust as well as in seawater.
Lithium can also be extracted from seawater (more expensive than sodium extraction, though). It's the third most common element in the universe. If you really want to you can 'mine' it in your back yard.

Cheap Sodium batteries would be great - even if they don't turn out to be energy dense enough for cars. A scaleable solution for large scale grid energy storage is sorely needed.
humy
5 / 5 (1) Feb 01, 2019
They should forget about both lithium and sodium batteries and concentrate their research on fully developing magnesium-sulfur batteries that promise to have MUCH higher energy densities than either lithium-ion or sodium-ion batteries. Both magnesium and sulfur are relatively cheap and fully recyclable we will never run out of them.
Eikka
not rated yet Feb 02, 2019
They should forget about both lithium and sodium batteries and concentrate their research on fully developing magnesium-sulfur batteries that promise to have MUCH higher energy densities than either lithium-ion or sodium-ion batteries. Both magnesium and sulfur are relatively cheap and fully recyclable we will never run out of them.


Or, just use a fuel cell. Best energy density, no chance of spontaneous combustion due to battery chemistry.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Feb 04, 2019
They should forget about both lithium and sodium batteries and concentrate their research on fully developing magnesium-sulfur batteries that promise to have MUCH higher energy densities than either lithium-ion or sodium-ion batteries.

I'm thinking fluoride batteries hold most promise (simply because of the electro-negativity of fluorine and the size of the atom involved). From a chemistry/physics standpoint that should yield the highest energy density possible.
Da Schneib
1 / 5 (1) Feb 04, 2019
Vanadium is as common as copper. It's used in strong steel alloys, and in fact was used in the steel for the Model T Ford.

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