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Energy

Sodium gaps result in solid-state batteries

A novel sodium-based solid might be suitable as an electrolyte in affordable batteries, based on an investigation by a research group from Marburg, Cologne, and Singapore.

01 Mar. 2018
Roland Ackermann
HMI-ID02-017ra_Reinhold Eckstein
Stefanie Dehnen (right) and her colleague Professor Dr. Bernhard Roling (Foto: Reinhold Eckstein)

The energy transition depends on efficient energy storage, in particular, the success of electric mobility. While Nano One in Vancouver, Canada, is using a cathode with novel composites, other innovators are working on batteries with solid electrolytes. The core of each battery includes an electrolyte, in other words, a carrier material in which charged particles move from one battery pole to another. An important class of such materials are solid electrolytes, which not only offer safety advantages, but also make a space-saving battery design possible. Dyson , a lateral entrant, who wants to enter the e-vehicle market by 2020, and Toyota, who consider themselves the leading developers of solid fuel batteries, are working on such solutions. Bosch has now secured the dDryLyte technology of start-up company, Seeo , and the lithium-ion pioneers at the University of Texas at Austin are also doing research in this area.

Meanwhile, a surprising novelty has emerged from Marburg. At the Philipps University there, Prof. Dr. med. Stefanie Dehnen (Inorganic Chemistry) and Prof. Dr. Bernhard Roling (Physical Chemistry) achieved successes with sodium ions which are especially advantageous because sodium-containing raw materials are available in great abundance. The compound Na₁₁Sn₂PS₁₂, which has a remarkably high conductivity , evidently proved to be the best sulfur-based sodium ion conductor. The researchers attribute this surprising property to the “presence of sodium gaps in the crystal structure which is slightly different than the related compounds.” All in all, the research group considers the compound to be suitable for use as an electrolyte in solid-state batteries.