Researchers in France have unveiled a working prototype of a sodium-ion battery, potentially paving the way for a new type of rechargeable battery that could be cheaper to produce than today’s lithium-ion batteries.
The idea of using sodium for batteries isn’t a new one, but development of the technology took a back seat to lithium-ion battery technology decades ago since Li-ion batteries can theoretically offer more power.
But researches at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique in France have developed a prototype 18650 battery that offers comparable performance to some Li-ion batteries in terms of capacity and life span. This could pave the way for commercial development of sodium-ion batteries.
Sodium is cheaper and more abundant in the environment than lithium, but it’s also heavier — which means batteries based on this technology might not be ideal for light-weight devices like cellphones, tablets, and laptops. But it could be ideal for electric cars and other large items where the additional weight doesn’t matter as much.
They could also be used in large-scale battery banks to store energy from solar power and wind energy, making power available even when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing very hard.