While electric vehicles are considered green options (as opposed to petroleum-based vehicles), there is some legitimate concern about the nature of the batteries used in the EVs. The most popular, Li-ion battery – let’s face it – isn’t the most environmentally friendly.
However, the clean energy brigade is working on newer battery technologies that are less harmful to the environment. Sodium ion battery has proven to be the most popular, as it is essentially less expensive and greener.
Sodium is plentiful and cheap, but its limited performance in batteries has hampered its widespread adoption until now. But now a breakthrough is being claimed by a research team at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). It claims to have developed a sodium-ion battery with a greatly extended life in lab tests. The findings provide a promising recipe for using the battery in the EV industry and also store energy from the sun.
Explained: the new sodium-ion battery technology
In a statement, PNNL, the study’s lead researcher Jiguang Zhang, a battery technology pioneer with more than 23 patented inventions in energy storage technology, said, “We have basically shown that sodium ion batteries have the potential to last a long time.” longevity and environmentally friendly battery technology.”
In general, as a battery goes through repeated cycles of charging and discharging, it loses its ability to hold the charge. In current sodium-ion battery technologies, this process happens much faster than in comparable lithium-ion batteries.
But the new sodium-ion battery technology developed at PNNL retains its ability to charge for longer than previously described sodium-ion batteries.
The scientists reportedly accomplished this by changing the cathode material and adding a completely different charge carrier (considered the electrolyte, the “blood” that allows energy to flow in a battery). By cleverly modifying the ingredients that make up the battery’s liquid core, the scientists were able to avoid the performance issues that have ruined sodium-based batteries.
The new ‘electrolyte’ also generates an ultra-thin protective layer on the positive terminal (the cathode) which contributes to extra stability of the entire unit.
Sodium Ion Battery and EV Industry
“In lab tests, the new design proved to be durable, with 90 percent of its cell capacity after 300 cycles at 4.2V, which is higher than most sodium-ion batteries previously reported,” PNNL said.
The new sodium ion technology also uses a natural fire suppression solution that is also impervious to temperature changes and can operate at high voltages.
Even now, sodium ion technology still lags behind lithium in energy density. But its stability in the face of temperature changes and longevity certainly make it attractive for the EV industry, especially for light EVs and even energy storage in the power grid.
Sodium-ion cells may not immediately overtake traditional lithium-ion batteries, but they do offer a number of benefits for charging, conserving energy and helping to promote cleaner energy.
For the record, last year global battery giant CATL introduced its first-generation sodium-ion battery, as well as an AB solution that integrates both sodium-ion and lithium-ion cells into one package.
In India, Reliance Industries has announced the acquisition of UK-based Faradion, a company engaged in the use of sodium ions in rechargeable batteries.