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Commercially ready anode-free sodium-metal battery developed in US

Tue, 05/25/2021 - 11:01 -- Paul Crompton
Commercially ready anode-free sodium-metal battery developed in US

A US team from the Washington University in St. Louis has developed a stable sodium-ion coin cell that could one day replace lithium-ion batteries.

The ‘cheaper and smaller’ technology uses a thin layer of copper foil on the anode side of the battery as the current collector.

Taking into account only the active materials, the energy density of the tested coin cells were in the range of 310-340 Wh/kg.

For the 100 cycles, the team tested at 2C-rate and 3C-rate with the cells showing a >99.9% capacity retention rate per cycle, which projects the cells can run for more than 200 cycles before reaching 80% of the initial capacity.

The technology is ready for commercial tests and optimisation, say the team.

In the anode-free battery the ions are transformed into a metal where they plate themselves onto the copper foil, before dissolving when returning to the cathode.

The research was published 3 May in the journal Advanced Science.

Previously, anode-free batteries were unstable, and grew dendrites that were attributed to the reactivity of the alkali metals involved, namely sodium.   

The technology was made in the laboratory of Peng Bai, assistant professor in the university’s Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering in the McKelvey School of Engineering.

Bai told BEST: “Our focus here was the anode, which by itself (in a control cell) can run for more than 7,000 hours without degradation. 

“But we need a better cathode to make the anode-free full cell to achieve longer cycle life. 

“Once the optimised cathode material, either from us or from another research group or company, is identified the technology will be ready for commercialisation. It doesn't require any special facilities other than what people currently use for lithium-ion batteries.”

He added: “Our demonstration shows that in terms of energy density it is comparable to lithium-ion batteries. So wherever people want to lower the cost of their lithium-ion batteries, they can use this anode-free sodium battery. They would not notice performance differences, but save a lot of money.” 

The cost-saving for manufacturing the anode-free sodium (Na) battery comes from three aspects: the anode material (no need for anode materials like graphite); anode processing (no need to fabricate the graphite anode laminate); and the cathode material (Na-based materials are cheaper than lithium-based materials for synthesizing the cathode).

The concept of replacing lithium with sodium and removing the anode isn’t new, but the problem has been developing an anode-free battery with a reasonable lifetime, said Bai.

Bingyuan Ma, the paper’s first author and a doctoral student in Bai’s laboratory, said: “In our discovery, there are no dendrites; the deposit is smooth, with a metal luster. 

“This kind of growth mode has never been observed for this kind of alkali metal.”

Watching the battery in action, the researchers saw shiny, smooth deposits of sodium, which eliminates morphological irregularities that can lead to the growth of dendrites.

Image: Bingyuan Ma holding a transparent capillary cell. Bai’s Lab at the McKelvey School of Engineering is the only one in the world with such diagnostic cells. (Courtesy: Bai Lab)

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Recycler signs deal to produce black mass from used lithium-ion e-bus batteries

Fri, 01/22/2021 - 08:56 -- Paul Crompton

Lithium-ion battery recycling company Li-Cycle Corp has completed its battery recycling pilot plant where the Canadian produced black mass— a mixture of lithium, nickel, cobalt and copper— from used lithium-ion batteries.

The Canadian firm received 45 end-of-life lithium-ion battery modules from e-busses totalling 3,200 pounds from New Flyer Industries Canada and New Flyer of America— subsidiaries of bus manufacturer NFI Group— in Q4 of 2020.

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Lithium ions research shines light on path to precisely designed batteries for individual uses

Tue, 12/08/2020 - 12:23 -- Paul Crompton

An international team of researchers has developed a proof of concept technique for precisely tracking the movement of lithium ions moving through a polymer electrolyte within batteries.

The researchers used X-rays to determine the velocity and concentration of ions within a battery, then compared those results to theoretical models to determine the ion transport number, a fraction of electric current carried by ions in an electrolyte.

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New code of practice for handling lithium-ion batteries lays foundation for electric vehicles in the UK

Thu, 11/26/2020 - 09:30 -- Paul Crompton

The first standard in a far-reaching code of practice has been published by the UK’s British Standards Institute (BSI) to ensure the safe and environmentally-friendly manufacture, use and disposal of lithium-ion batteries.

The standard covers eleven handling themes— including storage, hazards and fumes— and is designed to help pack and module manufacturers, vehicle OEMs and recycling organisations manage risks throughout a battery’s lifetime.

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UK firm wins grant to produce lead oxides for advanced lead-acid batteries

Thu, 11/19/2020 - 14:04 -- Paul Crompton

UK-based recycling development firm Ever Resource has been awarded £237,425 ($315,500) grant funding to produce lead oxides for enhanced lead-acid technologies from old batteries.

The cash from Innovate UK's 'Sustainable Innovation Fund (round 1)' framework will allow Ever Resource to begin testing its nanostructured lead oxides in commercial lead-acid batteries.

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US scientists unveil proof-of-principle lithium-ion battery recycling technique

Wed, 11/18/2020 - 14:05 -- Paul Crompton

Scientists at Idaho National Laboratory (INL) in the US have demonstrated a proof-of-principle electrochemical process for recycling lithium-ion batteries. 

The room temperature process uses electricity, instead of heat, to power the reactions that leach cobalt, lithium, manganese and other materials from shredded lithium-ion batteries. 

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Russia’s nuclear industry embraces the benefits of lithium-ion batteries

Thu, 10/29/2020 - 13:17 -- Paul Crompton

Russia state-operated nuclear energy firm Rosatom has incorporated Rosatom Energy Storage Solutions (RENERA) to develop and trade lithium-ion traction and stationary batteries.

RENERA, the new name of Cathode Materials, a 100% subsidiary of Russian nuclear fuel cycle firm TVEL (owned by Rosatom), will develop batteries for electric vehicles, and energy storage systems.

 

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Total and Groupe PSA create JV to develop 48GWh lithium-ion production capacity by 2030

Tue, 09/15/2020 - 11:54 -- Paul Crompton

Car maker Groupe PSA and fossil fuel giant Total are forming a joint venture called Automotive Cells Company (ACC) to build lithium-ion batteries.

The French firms will pool their knowledge to develop lithium-ion batteries with the goal of beginning mass production from 2023 in gigafactories in Douvrin (France) and Kaiserslautern (Germany).

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Circular-economy consortium aims to make Europe a regenerated battery materials hub

Tue, 09/15/2020 - 11:44 -- Paul Crompton

Battery materials firm Solvay and energy management firm Veolia are partnering on a circular-economy consortium to manage critical metals used in lithium-ion electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

Belgian firm Solvay and French company Veolia , through its subsidiary SARP Industries, are engaged in discussions about the battery value chain— from access and spent battery feedstock to dismantling, metal extraction and purification— with a car manufacturers and battery cell producers.

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DOE researchers increase lithium-sulfur battery performance using silica cathodes

Thu, 09/10/2020 - 10:14 -- Paul Crompton

Researchers at U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have found a polar, nonconductive cathode can increase the performance of lithium-sulfur batteries.

Using physical and electrochemical probes, the researchers discovered that under varying cycling rates and loadings, even at high current densities, a silica-based cathode showed better cycle-life in lithium-sulfur batteries.

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