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.

sodium ion

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.



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7 replies on “Sodium-ion batteries could power cars, gadgets of the future”

  1. Now.
    In a car, more weight consumes more battery.
    In cellphone, it does not.

  2. you dropped the ball on this one a bit brad

    >comparable performance to some Li-ion batteries in terms of capacity and life span.

    They have comparable energy density (W/Kg) to early Li-Ion batteries.. about half of current ones but that could improve of course. They have about twice the lifespan (2000 cycles) vs li-ion. no mention of energy/volume.

    >could be ideal for electric cars and other large items where the additional weight doesn’t matter as much.

    battery weight is a huge deal in electric cars! .. home energy storage would be one of the first areas they would be interesting for, in things similar to tesla’s power bank.

    Being a new tech I expect it will be a while before this is cheaper than li-ion even if it is a fundamentally cheaper process (due to economies of scale).

  3. Looks like they’ve been making a lot of progress over the last few months. A report from March said 70% retention after 400 cycles, and now they’re talking 2,000 cycles and more. Widespread use is probably a few years away yet, but it will be nice to have alternative solution to our battery needs if it pans out — especially since its a non-toxic one.

  4. If the price reduction to make these is significant , it could mean EV batteries become cheap enough to produce reasonably priced EVs

    Would like to know how much heavier they are though

    1. Liion batteries aren’t expensive but the market is still youngish and only just now are factories being built to scale to EV class size packs. Up to now – EV cell and pack production was both high risk and low volume for battery makers. Remember, Elon Musk doesn’t just want to make cheap packs in his Gigafactory but also turn profit from it!

      Sodium-ion will be cheaper in the long run but also heavier.

  5. I think it’s the other way around. The added weight would most likely be negligible in a cell phone (yes, there would be those who’d complain but it wouldn’t really affect functionality nor portability). In cars due to the size of the batteries the weight difference would be more noticeable especially since the power stored would be spent on transporting the extra weight. Energy storage solutions for buildings and such which are using eco-friendly sources such as wind or solar. Which brings up another point of interest. It would be interesting to know which of the two are more environmentally friendly to produce and dispose of.

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