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Swiss researchers develop a solid-state sodium battery

The promising development could replace today’s leading lithium-ion technology in the medium term. The prototype of a sodium-based solid-state battery uses non-toxic, non-flammable closo-boranes as ionic conductors.

05 Dec. 2017
Claudia Witte
Swiss researchers develop a solid-state sodium battery (picture: Empa)

High energy density, fast chargeability and maximum fire safety are among the key requirements for future-proof batteries. Researchers at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research ( Empa ) and the University of Geneva have developed a new technology that appears to improve on the lithium-ion solution in some aspects. For example, sodium-based batteries use closo-boranes as ion conductors. Unlike the liquid electrolytes in lithium-ion batteries, this substance is not flammable. Burning smartphones have generated negative publicity more than once in the past, and the risk of fire is also an urgent problem in electric mobility.

The research report has already appeared in the science journal "Energy & Environmental Science". Further tests will show whether the battery is able to meet the expectations of researchers in the medium term. The sodium-based battery approach is just one of several Swiss research projects relating to power storage technologies: Empa is also involved in the development of a low-cost battery made of graphite waste and metal scrap that has already passed the first laboratory tests.