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The sodium-ion battery (SIB), like all accumulators, is used to store electrical energy using ions of the alkali metal sodium.
A sodium-ion battery is a type of battery that uses sodium ions to carry charge in the electrolyte.
Thermal batteries, which use liquid sodium and a solid electrolyte, are the most important conversions that fall under this broad definition.
The Zebra battery and the sodium-sulfur accumulator are good examples because they are used in commercial settings.
Analogous to the narrow definition of the term lithium-ion accumulator, which excludes lithium batteries with lithium metal electrodes, sodium-ion accumulators can be defined in such a way that sodium ions are used there for charge storage in the electrodes.
This excludes the liquid sodium cells mentioned above, which don’t use sodium ions.
Sodium-ion batteries are operated at ambient temperature with either organic or inorganic aqueous electrolytes.
The advantage of using organic electrolytes is that they allow a larger voltage than aqueous solutions.
Sodium-ion batteries with aqueous electrolytes are also called salt-water batteries.
Sodium is cheaper than lithium and can be found in large amounts around the world. This makes the raw materials used in battery production cheaper.
Sodium chloride is the second most abundant component of seawater in terms of volume. Both the extraction of sea salt and the mining of underground deposits have been established for centuries.
Large quantities of sodium salts are also produced as a co-product of other mining processes, such as the extraction of potash salts.
For example, an initial assessment showed that sodium-ion technology is less expensive than lithium-ion technology. Due to the use of abundant and thus inexpensive materials, sodium-ion batteries are considered a promising battery design for energy storage applications where the weight of the battery is not important, such as stationary battery storage power plants for wind and solar energy.
Sodium cells are also an advantageous alternative in terms of sustainability and handling (see: Hazards of handling lithium-ion batteries). In addition, the cells can be manufactured on the same equipment as lithium-ion batteries.
These use a solid electrolyte (of the sodium-β-aluminate type) to transport the sodium ions. Since the conductivity of solid electrolytes is only high enough at sufficiently high temperatures, the cells must be kept at a high temperature. For this purpose, the negative terminal side can consist of the inexpensive liquid sodium, the positive terminal side of sulfur in the sodium-sulfur accumulator and of nickel chloride in the zebra battery (=sodium-nickel chloride accumulator). In contrast to the inexpensive electrodes, the solid electrolyte is relatively expensive.
This type of accumulator is marketed under names such as salt water battery. A special feature of this type of accumulator is that, unlike most accumulators, especially the group of lithium-ion accumulators, it is resistant to deep discharge and can be discharged down to a final discharge voltage of 0 V without being damaged.
At 12 to 24 watt-hours per liter, the energy density of aqueous sodium-ion accumulators is far below that of lead-acid or lithium-ion accumulators, which does not pose a problem in stationary systems but makes these sodium-ion accumulators unsuitable for mobile applications. They also have lower cycle stability.
The removable capacity is highly dependent on the discharge current. Therefore, such sodium-ion batteries are more suitable for applications that require low to medium currents, but do so over long periods of time.
In the group of sodium-ion accumulators with organic electrolytes, which are currently being intensively researched, there is a wide variety of proposed materials for the anode, cathode, and electrolyte. This results in many conceivable combinations that lead to different accumulator parameters, among which the cell voltage is the most important. The most commonly suggested electrolytes for sodium-ion accumulators, analogous to lithium-ion accumulators, are solutions of sodium salts such as sodium hexafluorophosphate PF6-. Sodium perchlorate, which is often used in academic research, is unsuitable for commercial purposes because of its explosion hazard.
The solvent usually consists of binary or tertiary mixtures of various organic carbonates such as propylene carbonate, ethylene carbonate, and diethyl carbonate. Depending on the desired properties, short-chain ethers are also occasionally used. Carbon in the form of graphene is one of the materials used as anode material – metallic sodium is possible in principle as anode material, but the alkali metal is chemically attacked by the substances in the electrolyte. Various materials containing sodium ions, such as phosphates and diphosphates, are being researched as cathode materials, for example sodium iron phosphate.
Depending on the materials used, this results in cell voltages in the range of 2 to 3.5 volts.
In 2017, sodium-ion accumulators played only a minor role economically, but were the subject of research in various forms and variations. In 2018, the position of sodium-ion accumulators had improved somewhat due to lower manufacturing costs relative to lithium accumulators and further rationalization through simpler design at higher volumes.
UK company Faradion, in partnership with the UK’s largest battery manufacturer AMTE, and Chinese manufacturer CATL, Tesla supplier and the world’s largest battery manufacturer, have developed a prototype sodium-ion battery for electric mobility. According to CATL, its first-generation sodium-ion batteries achieve up to 160 Wh/kg, with targets of up to 200 Wh/kg for the second generation, which is roughly equivalent to the energy density of lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries or According to the company, Berliner Blau is used as cathode material and a newly developed hard carbon as anode material, while aluminum is used as conductor foil instead of copper as in lithium-ion batteries.
The latter is possible because sodium, unlike lithium, does not react with aluminum and offers the advantage of being able to deep discharge the accumulators without damaging them, since aluminum, unlike copper, does not form bridges (short circuit), which is why, unlike lithium-ion accumulators, they do not represent dangerous goods during transport. At room temperature, the accumulators should be able to charge from 0 to 80% within 15 minutes and still retain 90% of their capacity at -20 °C.
Since all the materials for the production of the accumulators are cheap and available in masses (sodium, aluminum, Berlin blue, carbon, etc. ) and the same equipment can be used in their manufacture as in the manufacture of lithium-ion accumulators, the initial price is assumed to be $77/kWh, and less than $40/kWh for later mass production. According to the company, production of the first generation is expected to start in 2023.
Chinese electric scooter manufacturer NIU Technologies announced that it would equip first models with SIB starting in 2023 to reduce production costs.
The electric car has a battery pack with a capacity of ca 25 kWh and an energy density of 120 Wh/kg. The model has a range ca of 250 km and supports fast charging of 3C – 4C. The battery pack uses battery cells with an energy density of 140 Wh/kg.
Hina Battery and Sehol — a joint venture project between JAC and Volkswagen Anhui. They have jointly built an tested vehicles with sodium-ion batteries.
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