Sodium batteries are one step closer to saving you from a mobile phone fire

Science | AAAS | 4/19/2019 | Staff
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Solid-state batteries, which use solids instead of liquids to ferry ions through their core, are attracting billions in investment, thanks to their potential for reducing battery fires. Now, researchers have created a solid-state sodium battery with a record capacity to store charge and a flexible electrode that allows recharging hundreds of times. What’s more, the battery’s use of sodium instead of expensive lithium could enable the development of cheaper energy storage devices for everything from small wearable electronics to solar and wind farms.

Maria Helena Braga, a battery researcher at the University of Texas in Austin, who was not involved with the work, says the electrode’s flexibility is particularly inventive. And even though the new batteries aren’t ready for commercialization, their potential for cheap production makes it likely that scientists will continue to pursue them, she says.

Today - Lithium-ion - Batteries - Everything - Cellphones

Today, lithium-ion batteries are king, powering everything from our cellphones to our cars. But in rare, dramatic instances, their reliance on flammable liquid electrolytes has caused them to catch fire. Researchers are exploring lithium solid state batteries to address this problem. But that doesn’t address the cost. A recent analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts that demand for lithium will explode, increasing 1500-fold by 2030. That could send lithium prices skyrocketing because the metal is mined in only a handful of countries.

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Sodium, a fellow alkali metal, has similar chemical behavior and is far more abundant, so many research groups have crafted solid sodium batteries over the past decade. But the batteries, which use nonflammable solids to ferry sodium ions from one electrode to another, tend to break down quickly. In one common setup, during discharge, sodium atoms give up an electron at one electrode (the anode), creating an electric current...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Science | AAAS
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