Sodium May Replace Lithium In Rechargeable Batteries

Combining computational and experimental approaches, scientists in Japan have identified a compound that boosts sodium-ion battery performance.

AsianScientist (Feb. 12, 2019) – Researchers at the Nagoya Institute of Technology (NITech) in Japan have demonstrated that a sodium-containing crystal can act as an efficient battery component. Their findings are published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Lithium-ion batteries are rechargeable and have many applications such as batteries for laptops and cell phones as well as in hybrid and fully electric cars. However, lithium metal is expensive and limited. Given the increased demand for battery-powered devices and particularly electric cars, there is an urgent need to find an alternative to lithium—one that is both cheap and abundant.

Sodium (Na)-ion batteries are an attractive alternative to lithium-based ion batteries due to the abundance of Na in the Earth’s crust as well as in seawater. However, Na cannot be simply swapped with lithium used in existing batteries as Na+ is a larger ion and has a slightly different chemistry. Hence, researchers are actively seeking alternative methods to design Na-ion batteries.

In this study, scientists at NITech examined the crystal structure of about 4,300 compounds from a compound database and found Na2V3O7 crystals as a suitable candidate for efficient Na-ion batteries. The researchers demonstrated that the compound prolongs Na-ion battery life and has a short charging time of less than six minutes.

Despite the favorable characteristics and overall desired impact on Na-ion batteries, the researchers found that Na2V3O7 underwent deterioration in the final stages of charging, which limits the practical storage capacity of the resultant battery. The researchers thus aim to improve the performance of their material so that it remains stable over many charge-discharge cycles.

“Our ultimate goal is to establish a method that will enable us to efficiently design battery materials via a combination of computational and experimental methods,” said Dr. Tanibata adds.

The article can be found at: Tanibata et al. (2018) Nanotube-structured Na2V3O7 as a Cathode Material for Sodium-Ion Batteries with High-rate and Stable Cycle Performances.


Source: Nagoya Institute of Technology; Photo: Shutterstock.
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