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sodium-ion

Paper-waste shows potential for bringing sodium batteries to commercialisation

Thu, 09/02/2021 - 09:51 -- paul Crompton
Zhen Xu, a research postgraduate at the Faculty of Engineering, Department of Chemical Engineering.

A team at Imperial College London have created a battery material they believe could enable the transition from lithium-ion to sodium-ion batteries. 

The scientists prepared lignin (a waste by-product of the paper industry)-derived carbon nanofibre to produce mats that serve as a protective “skeleton” to protect the cell’s metallic sodium anode.

The team from the Titirici Group in the Department of Chemical Engineering used coin cells in the tests with an energy density of around 384Wk/kg-1, which was based on the total active mass of the cathode and anode.

The plan is to next test the technique at pouch level with the goal of producing sodium batteries that can be used in EV or grid energy storage stations as flexible or structural energy storage devices.

The results were published in journal Energy and Environmental Science.

Lignin mats were produced using ‘electrospinning’, with the fibres then carbonised to produce numerous defects in the material structure that support an “even and stable” deposition of metallic sodium.

By combining metallic sodium with specially tailored lignin-based carbon, the team was able to retain and utilise the energy capacity benefits while the safety risks associated with a build-up of dendrite— which causes batteries to short-circuit— were reduced. 

Normally, a sodium metal anode can directly store sodium ions, but the dendrite formation would cause a short circuit of the batteries, said Zhen Xu, a research postgraduate at the Faculty of Engineering, Department of Chemical Engineering.

Co-author of the paper Xu told BEST: “Therefore, we need a skeleton to protect the sodium metal anode. Bulk sodium metals are pieces of normal sodium metal without any skeleton.

“In this study, the lignin-derived carbon nanofibre mats serve as a skeleton to protect the metallic sodium anode from the dendrite formation, so the metallic sodium is the active anode material to store sodium ions in fact. 

“To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time to use the lignin-derived carbon nanofibre mats to protect the sodium metal anode.” 

Xu added: “Our research shows the great potential for sodium-ion batteries to play a significant role in a sustainable energy future. Now we hope to work with industry to develop this technology on an industrial scale and explore new applications for sodium-ion batteries.”

Corresponding author of the paper, professor Magda Titirici, said: “It is exciting to see new opportunities for lignin utilisation in the battery sector and its potential to develop new sodium-based technologies, which could revolutionise the electric vehicle sector by creating high performance, safe and more sustainable batteries.”

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China deploys world’s first sodium-ion grid-scale battery ESS

Wed, 07/14/2021 - 09:01 -- paul Crompton
China deploys world’s first sodium-ion grid-scale battery ESS

The world’s first grid–scale energy storage system has been deployed in China, according to domestic news outlets.

The system was officially put into operation in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province, and is combined with municipal power, solar and charging facilities to form a micro-grid, reported English language newspaper The Global Times.

The system’s major developer was the Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, which has worked on the technology for 10 years.

The institute first demonstrated a 100kWh sodium-ion battery in 2019.

China has proposed a target of carbon neutrality by 2060, and is expected to widely use sodium-ion in a variety of sectors including: electric vehicles, home or industrial energy storage, 5G communication base stations and renewable energy.

Last month, UK battery maker Faradion announced that lithium-ion battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) would begin making sodium-ion batteries from July.

Image: The 100kWh Na-ion battery-based power station deployed by the Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Science in 2019

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Sodium-ion trends as CATL announces plans to diversify into the technology

Fri, 06/11/2021 - 11:46 -- paul Crompton
Sodium-ion trends as CATL announces plans to diversify into the technology

UK battery maker Faradion has welcomed an announcement that lithium-ion battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) will begin making sodium-ion batteries from next month.

Faradion, which also makes sodium-ion batteries, said the decision underscores the importance of the technology as an integral part of a world beyond lithium.

Robin Zeng, the founder of Tesla's battery supplier CATL, reportedly made the announcement at a shareholder meeting.

A Faradion statement read: “This is a necessary transition: lithium-ion batteries used predominantly in EVs contain lithium, cobalt and copper, and in stationary energy storage lithium and copper. These are expensive raw materials and their mining leads to adverse environmental impacts. Lithium has also become constrained due to restricted availability and increased prices.

Faradion’s proprietary technology boasts performance of 150-160Wh/kg. 

In May, UK institute The Faraday Institution released its report ‘Sodium-ion Batteries: Inexpensive and Sustainable Energy Storage’.

The report outlined sodium-ion batteries promising cost, safety, sustainability and performance advantages over commercialised lithium-ion batteries. 

Key advantages include the use of widely available and inexpensive raw materials and a rapidly scalable technology based around existing lithium-ion production methods. 

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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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Promising research paves way for sodium-ion battery breakthrough

Wed, 06/03/2020 - 14:42 -- paul Crompton

Researchers at Washington State University (WSU) and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have created a sodium-ion technology they say works as well as a lithium-ion battery.

The team reported their sodium-ion battery is able to deliver a capacity similar to some lithium-ion batteries and keep more than 80% of its charge after 1,000 cycles. 

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UK researchers use MRI scanning in hunt for next generation battery to usurp lithium-ion

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 16:05 -- paul Crompton

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is being used to develop better sodium-ion batteries as researchers from UK universities look for the next generation of high-performance rechargeable batteries.

A team from the University of Birmingham’s School of Chemistry, with researchers from Nottingham University, has developed a technique that uses MRI scanning to monitor how sodium ions performs in operando.

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Faradion first as it prepares to ship order of sodium-ion batteries to Australia

Thu, 04/23/2020 - 13:57 -- paul Crompton

UK sodium-ion manufacturer Faradion is set to ship its batteries to Australia after securing an order from ICM Australia. 

The company expects to ship the order for a “large number” of 40Ah cells in the next quarter to Australia for the first time.

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Cash boost allows Welsh firm to scale-up development of its sodium-ion pouch cell

Wed, 01/29/2020 - 14:46 -- paul Crompton

Welsh battery developer Deregallera is preparing to commission a pilot-scale sodium-ion pouch cell production line after securing a government grant.

The company will move from prototype laboratory-scale testing to manufacturing packaged cells that conform to industrial standard regulations in large commercial-scale batteries.

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UK Na-ion firm Faradion to move to large-scale prototype

Tue, 01/31/2017 - 12:06 -- paul Crompton
UK Na-ion firm Faradion to move to large-scale prototype

UK firm Faradion has received £3.2 million in funding to take its sodium-ion technology from the laboratory to large-scale prototype stage.

The money came from a syndicated funding round from existing shareholders including Mercia Technologies, which is due to invest £1.9million for a more than 13% share of the business.

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Sodium-ion firms get cash boost to bring technology to market

Mon, 06/13/2016 - 15:44 -- paul Crompton
Sodium-ion firms get cash boost to bring technology to market

A UK based project to develop sodium-ion batteries for the next generation of electric vehicles has received a £38.2million grant.

The scheme to develop the technology to meet vehicle manufacturer specifications is part of Innovate UK’s initiative to make the UK a global leader in emissions-cutting technology.

English firm Faradion and Scottish based AGM Batteries were awarded the funding to deliver a working prototype of its technology for electric vehicles (EVs) by 2018.

Due to sodium salts abundance sodium-ion batteries could one day be 30% cheaper than conventional lithium-ion cells, which in turn will reduce the cost of EVs.

The partnership aims to bring sodium-ion batteries to the EV market as early as 2025.

The two firms will modify existing sodium-ion technology to make it usable in EVs, including the adaptation of active materials at the cathode and anode to meet OEM specifications.

“This project will help the automotive industry to develop a more stable, sustainable and cost-effective solution to electric vehicle power than is currently available,” said Faradion CEO Francis Massin.

Earlier this year BBB reported how Faradion had partnered with AGM Batteries to scale up production of the technology at its 4,000 square metre production facility in Caithness, Scotland. 

Innovate has also awarded AGM £700,000 to develop the technology and produce first prototypes while Faradion received Innovate UK funding to develop the technology for solar energy storage in conjunction with Moixa Technology and WMG, University of Warwick.

 

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