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Sodium-Ion Batteries Now Mass Produced In The USA, Pittsburgh At Lower Cost (Read 4016 times)
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Sodium-Ion Batteries Now Mass Produced In The USA, Pittsburgh At Lower Cost
Feb 1st, 2014 at 8:27pm
U.S.A. start-up Aquion Energy, a Carnegie Mellon University-spin-off from Pittsburgh is now mass manufacturing sodium-ion batteries.

"Whirring robotic arms have started to assemble a new kind of battery" ... "is sending out batteries for customers to evaluate"

The batteries’ storage capacity remains constant during extreme fluctuations in temperature, making them suitable without limitations for use in the desert. This makes them ideal partners for the large solar power stations, which are mushrooming all along the Sunbelt. Sodium-ion batteries can be used equally as well for storing wind power. If they prove to be a success, they may also be attractive for those private households already producing their own solar or wind power which are seeking to maximize their self-efficiency.

Additionally developers at Aquion have considerably improved the output capacity and life span of sodium ion technology. The cathode, i.e. the negative pole, consists of a sodium alloy, while a carbon compound is used for the anode. A liquid electrolyte, allowing only positively charged sodium ions, i.e. atoms lacking one of their electrons, to pass, is located between the poles. When the battery is charged, the ions flow from the cathode to the anode, with the entire process being reversed as the battery is discharged. Just a few years ago, the energy storage capacity of sodium-ion batteries dropped to 50% after just 50 charge/discharge cycles. According to Whitacre, however, Aquion now has this problem under control, thanks to a better understanding of the chemical processes involved. The American batteries have managed 5,000 full cycles and achieved a life span of at least ten years when charged once daily. This means that the sodium batteries have drawn closer to lithium-ion technology, which currently achieves an average of 7,000 full cycles.

Furthermore, the new sodium batteries are reported to be particularly safe. In contrast to the sodium-sulfur batteries developed in the 1970s in Germany, which required an operating temperature of 300 to 400 degrees Celsius and had a tendency to explode, Aquion’s batteries operate at ambient temperature – thereby considerably reducing the risk of fires. Additionally, thanks to Aquion’s use of a type of brine as an electrolyte, sodium-ion batteries can be more easily recycled than lithium-ion batteries, which contain an organic electrolyte. Using brine ultimately simplifies the production process, which in turn reduces costs. The machines used by Aquion are commonly employed in food production.

See also:
Breakthrough in rechargeable batteries: New twist to sodium-ion battery technology

Engineers have made a breakthrough in rechargeable battery applications. They have demonstrated that a composite paper -- made of interleaved molybdenum disulfide and graphene nanosheets -- can be both an active material to efficiently store sodium atoms and a flexible current collector. The newly developed composite paper can be used as a negative electrode in sodium-ion batteries.
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