Lithium-ion batteries usher in a new rival: sodium-ion batteries

Although the dominance of lithium-ion batteries in the market will continue for a long time, this does not affect other types of batteries.

Although the dominance of lithium-ion batteries in the market will continue for a long time, this does not affect other types of batteries.

Scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who are studying sodium-ion batteries, have discovered that the unexpected presence of hydrogen is responsible for the shortcomings of sodium-ion battery technology in areas such as degradation and performance. Excluding hydrogen from the overall material production process, based on calculations from sodium-ion technology, could dramatically improve the performance of sodium-ion batteries, bringing them to a level that is competitive with lithium-ion batteries.

Lithium-ion batteries usher in a new rival: sodium-ion batteries

The production of lithium-ion batteries has been growing exponentially, and the sourcing of materials needed for batteries and the potential problems of lithium itself, especially in power batteries, have become more prominent. Recycling and cascade utilization are one of the ways to save battery costs, but in order to obtain more abundant and cost-effective batteries, researchers have been painstakingly exploring new types of batteries and seeking new opportunities.

Replacing lithium with sodium is the research direction of many people in the battery industry. The full commercialization of this technology is currently up for debate, as the drawbacks of lithium-ion batteries include degradation issues and performance loss, while the “failure” of sodium-ion batteries is that they degrade and lose performance faster than lithium-ion batteries. Therefore, despite the low cost, high safety, and environmental friendliness of sodium-ion batteries, the challenge is how to switch to a chemical that is known to degrade faster.

A new paper from the school, published in the journal Materials Chemistry, shows that scientists have calculated that most of the degradation in sodium manganese oxide, a common cathode material, is caused by the presence of hydrogen in it. They also believe that a similar mechanism could adversely affect the performance of lithium-ion batteries, but more research is needed to prove this.

How do sodium-ion batteries compete with lithium-ion batteries?The answer is to avoid the interference of hydrogen

Hydrogen, the most abundant element known in the universe, finds its way into materials during many stages of battery fabrication, and its impact on various renewable materials is an important area of ​​research. UCSB calculations show that the presence of hydrogen in the manganese oxide layer reduces the energy required for manganese atoms to break and dissolve.

“Because hydrogen atoms are small and reactive, they are a common contaminant in materials,” explains Chris Van de Walle, a computational materials scientist at the University of Santa Barbara. “Now we’ve noticed the harmful effects of hydrogen.” , then measures can be taken during the manufacturing and packaging of the battery to inhibit its binding to hydrogen, thereby improving battery performance.”

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