Sodium batteries charging ahead
Reports about breakthroughs in battery technology have been doing the rounds for years - which ultimately shows that these supposed breakthroughs have not had the lasting impact hoped for. However, a prototype of an innovative sodium solid-state battery now being unveiled in Switzerland looks extremely promising.8 Dec 2017
Even if the most die-hard skeptics weren't already aware that battery energy storage methods are set to play a key role in the near future, the first government decisions on the planned demise of the conventional internal combustion engine will have left them in no doubt. Yet calls to improve current technology are already widespread, as ultimately it isn't just drivers but also every smartphone user who would be helped by longer battery lives. Batteries are gradually becoming that little bit lighter, more powerful and more durable thanks to inventors worldwide. But despite countless hopeful developments, major advances haven't yet made it to market. The most widely used solution is still lithium-ion technology, which suffers from a certain fire risk, particularly in the event of incorrect use or accidents. In response to the growing demand for safe batteries for use in electric cars and for storing renewable energies, researchers at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa) and the University of Geneva (UNIGE) have now presented the prototype of a solid-state battery.
The battery is based on sodium, a cost-effective alternative to lithium. According to the researchers from Empa and UNIGE, this technology has the potential to meet the increasing demand from growth markets while also enabling ever more powerful batteries that can be charged faster, store larger amounts of energy and offer greater safety. Using a solid-state electrolyte also eliminates dendrite formation, thereby facilitating the use of metallic anodes and thus enabling a higher energy density. Detailed information on this particularly promising solution can be found in an essay published in the magazine "Energy and Environmental Science".
Empa Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland)
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