Stanford Says Its Sodium-Based Battery Beat Lithium On Most All Fronts, 80% Cost Reduction Possible

1 month ago by Domenick Yoney 30

2018 Nissan LEAF battery and powertrain

But is it really worth its salt?

When it comes to electric vehicles, lithium ion batteries are the only game in town. But that doesn’t mean other sorts of chemistries aren’t vying for a piece of the action. Lithium air batteries, lithium sulfur (Li-S) batteries, and the “asphalt” battery we recently reported on are examples of other approaches being taken towards providing improved energy storage. Now, meet another: the sodium ion battery.

specific energies (based on discharge 1) of sodium ion materials achieved in sodium ion cells

Though pioneered by others, researchers at Stanford (including Yi Cui, a rock star in battery science circles), say their approach can offer similar energy storage of lithium batteries, but for 80% less cost. Obviously, that’s significant.

When it comes to other metrics by which to measure performance, however, information is limited. While the team says they’ve optimized the charging cycle, they still can’t give a figure on volumetric energy density, which might indicate whether or not this technology could be used in cars. If the space needed to hold energy is much larger than what is in commercial use now, then this chemistry might be relegated to a role in renewable energy storage instead of in transportation.

The cell uses a sodium-based cathode (disodium rhodizonate (Na2C6O6)). That’s the electrode that stores ions before they make their way to the anode — a journey which produces current. The anode is made of phosphorous. Apparently, the team recently overcame efficiency problems in the charge/discharge cycle that make them hopeful for this chemistry. Their efforts are documented in a recent paper cheekily titled, “High-performance sodium–organic battery by realizing four-sodium storage in disodium rhodizonate,” which was published by Nature (abstract here).

No mention was made of commercialization, so our hopes for a super cheap sodium ion EV battery are pretty low. If they can someday, come up with something inexpensive to hold renewably-produced energy, it may impact some of the costs associated with our EVs, at least.

Source: Stanford News

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30 responses to "Stanford Says Its Sodium-Based Battery Beat Lithium On Most All Fronts, 80% Cost Reduction Possible"

  1. DJ says:

    Annother Monday, another …

      1. Kdawg says:

        Happy Monday 🙂

    1. ffbj says:

      +1 had to give you one for that.

    2. fotomoto says:

      YABA. Yet Another Battery Announcement.

      YABA, YABA, YABA……

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        ^^ this.

        It’s pretty close to the point that I think we should just ignore all initial announcements, and only pay attention if there is some follow-up regarding a test production run or the like; some indication that there will actually be an attempt at a commercial product.

        Very few of these supposed breakthroughs in battery tech, so breathlessly reported, are ever heard from again.

  2. windbourne says:

    Nope.
    Not a chance.
    This is just another paper out of researchers who feel that they must publish and simply hope that nobody follows.

    .
    Minah Lee1
    , Jihyun Hong2,3, Jeffrey Lopez1
    , Yongming Sun2
    , Dawei Feng1
    , Kipil Lim2,3, William C.
    Chueh2
    , Michael F. Toney3
    , Yi Cui2
    *, and Zhenan Bao1
    *

    1. Paul Smith says:

      Wow, you sure are an expert who knows everything, and yet Yi Cui is supposed to be the one with the experience.

  3. SJC says:

    You can use sodium, calcium, magnesium, aluminum and other elements to make batteries but the anodes, cathodes, electrolyte, specific energy, energy density and cycles are the limits.

    1. The first player to demo a cell with 10,000 Cycles of 0%-100% SOC, High ‘C’ Discharge and Recharge (10C+), High Specific Voltage (4.0V+), High Specific Energy Density (400+ Wh/Kg), High Thermal Range Irrelevance (-60C to +80C = no variation in Performance, Energy, or Power), will be a serious win for all users, IF they can produce it Cheaply (-$50.00/kWh), and in Volume (30 GWh+/Year), and if they can make it Generally Available (Up to 80% of production in contract sales, but at least 20% in open retail general sales)!

      1. Omicron says:

        …That’s like saying “if someone builds a level 5 autonomous EV with 1000 miles of range that costs a quarter of a typical ICE car, that will be a major win”.

        Well yes, of course it would be! But a battery doesn’t need to have such spectacular stats to be useful. 10k cycles for instance is plain crazy high. If you car can go four days between charges, which is reasonable for today’s mid-range EVs with 150-200 miles, then you’ll cycle 91 times per year on average. Let’s make it a hundred to be even and account for a few out-of-the-ordinary long distance trips. With such a usage profile, a battery with around 3000 cycles is more than sufficient. The car will likely be scrapped long before the thirty years of battery life expectancy have passed.

        And future cars with larger ranges will cycle even less often per year. Charge once per week on average, and a battery rated for 1250 cycles can be expected to live through 24 years of constant use.

    2. Bruce Miller says:

      Seeking higher capacity Supercapacitors that can operate at higher voltages . . .

  4. Cavaron says:

    Another question: operating temperature? Salt batteries tend to need a high temperature to work (like 300°C) and therefore use A LOT of standby energy. Is this one different?

    1. Domenick Yoney says:

      I don’t think this is the same type of cell as was found in the old molten-salt batteries. If it is, I’d be extremely disappointed this isn’t mentioned in any of the publicly available material.

    2. unlucky says:

      This only talks about the electrodes. Maybe it’s still a lithum battery just with a new electrode?

      1. Amperaguy says:

        They are talking about cathode material. Lithium in the li-ion battery is in the cathode.

    3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      “Another question: operating temperature?”

      That was the first question which popped into my mind. If this is another molten salt battery, then there are serious obstacles to using it in mass-produced PEVs.

  5. vdiv says:

    They forgot to add pepper…

  6. Doggydogworld says:

    The abstract mentions grid storage, not EV. Cycle life, energy and power density don’t look too promising, but if cheap enough it could work for some applications.

  7. John says:

    Bogus because not by Tesla!

    Cheers,
    Tesla Fanboy

    1. I think you mean, because it’s not Panasonic!
      Cheers back atcha!

  8. Ambulator says:

    I commented about this in the forums last Wednesday, but the chart is new to me. The best performing lithium chemistry on the chart is lithium iron phosphate, which is too poor to be used in cars by any but the Chinese, and even they are moving away from it. I wonder where NCM would be? In actual batteries lithium iron phosphate is under 200 Wh/kg and not the over 400 Wh/kg displayed, so this is probably a little over 200 Wh/kg. Which wouldn’t be so bad, but 400 cycles is poor.

    1. buu says:

      it’s probably cathode only, which would be about 120mAh/g * 3,3V

    2. Some good Lead Acid does 400 Cycles! But, what are these ‘Cycles’ ran at? 1C? 0.05C? 0.5C? 2C? Etc.

      1. PHEVfan says:

        The chart says >400 cycles at C/5 which I assume means .2C
        Pretty much limits this to backup power.

      2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        “Some good Lead Acid does 400 Cycles!”

        But lead-acid starter batteries are not expected to last 10+ years.

        The EV industry standard for li-ion battery packs is a minimum of 2000 cycles.

  9. Paul says:

    It’s a long way from the lab…..

  10. Gazz says:

    If these break throughs are so good why not stick a pack of new batteries in a prototype EV and do some road trials

    1. Ambulator says:

      That would be an extremely expensive stunt. The material they are using is expensive in lab quantities, although large amounts of it should be cheap.

      Their use case looks like it would be providing cheaper but inferior batteries. That’s a tough sell for investors. Perhaps that would change with more research, but how to fund it?

  11. Vexar says:

    Battery breakthrough is code for “seeking venture capital funding.”

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