This year we have seen again how important research into new battery technologies has become. In the future we will need reliable and, hopefully, sustainable energy storage devices that we can use in cars or to store excess energy, for example. In addition to the reports about artificial intelligence that supports battery research and a concept that is supposed to supply a smartphone with energy for 9 years, we saw how much the prices for batteries in e-vehicles fell in 2020.
It is still unclear what materials the battery storage of the future will be made of. Most of us are probably familiar with the lithium-ion battery, which is probably the most common in everyday devices. Researchers at the University of Tokyo have now reported success with sodium-ion batteries. For the first time, the technology was able to achieve a higher energy density than the lithium-ion batteries mentioned above.
In addition to the many advantages that current batteries bring, there are also some downsides. The lithium and other components of the batteries are relatively expensive and not available in abundance on our planet. With the ever increasing demand, it is only a matter of time before bottlenecks become noticeable. In contrast, sodium is abundant and also more sustainable.
With the technology developed by the researchers, it is therefore possible to build batteries of similar size with the same capacity. A charge of 478 mAh per gram was achieved, the largest ever measured with sodium ion technology. The graphite used in lithium-ion batteries, on the other hand, only manages 372 mAh per gram.
The way is not yet clear for a sodium ion battery. Further studies will show whether the current composition is also durable and durable. However, if it comes to series production, the range of, for example, electric cars will increase again. Due to the higher charge, the sodium batteries achieve a 19 percent higher energy density with the same weight.
Battery research in particular is a direction that will require significantly more attention in the near future. Smartphones, cars and other electrically operated things have made extreme leaps in innovation in the last few decades; the battery has changed little in comparison. Hopefully that will change soon.