The Elements of Innovation Discovered

Fast-charging sodium hybrid battery

Metal Tech News - April 29, 2024

Korean researchers present a high-power sodium-ion battery that can be charged in seconds.

Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have developed a high-energy and high-power hybrid sodium-ion battery capable of charging within seconds.

Interest in developing batteries based on sodium has taken off due to concerns over the sustainability of lithium, as well as safety concerns due to the combustibility of lithium-ion batteries. Exponentially cheaper and over 500 times more abundant than lithium, sodium has a lot of appeal as an ingredient in batteries needed for the energy transition.

Historically, sodium batteries were studied equally with lithium up until the 1980s, when the two technologies diverged and lithium won out as the leading technology. Now, sodium-ion batteries are making a comeback.

Just below lithium in the periodic table of the elements, sodium shares a chemical kinship that allows sodium-ion batteries to behave similarly to lithium-ion in terms of design and fabrication, with the technologies progressing in tandem.

A promising hybrid

Professor Jeung Ku Kang and his team at KAIST's Department of Materials Science and Engineering Excellent progress have made excellent progress on a high-power hybrid sodium-ion battery that can be charged in seconds.

Today's sodium-ion batteries have suffered lower power output, constrained storage properties, and longer charging times. Currently, two types of sodium energy storage systems are available: sodium-ion batteries (SIBs) and sodium-ion capacitors (SICs). The KAIST researchers were determined to work on sodium-ion hybrid energy storage (SIHES) cells that pull strengths from both.

In principle, SIHES designed with the right combination of materials could simultaneously allow for high energy density in prolonged operation on a single charge, and faster charging to meet the industry's wide range of applications.

The research team has successfully tested such a combination, integrating standard anode materials with cathodes for supercapacitors. This hybridization overcame the slow energy storage rate of battery-type anodes and the low capacity of supercapacitor-type cathodes, achieving both high storage and rapid charge-discharge rates.

The newly developed anode and cathode in the assembled KAIST battery crosses the energy density of readily available commercial lithium-ion batteries with a supercapacitor's power density.

Their success promises a viable addition to the necessary array of energy solutions the world will need in order to transition to green power speedily and an inexpensive alternative to lithium-ion batteries across the energy storage space.

Healthy competition

To achieve global net-zero ambitions in a timely manner, the energy transition will require multiple approaches. Healthy competition through varied battery products could enable countries with less access to resources, be they material or financial, to consider more cost-effective routes to supplying growing urbanization with vehicle and grid power.

In the end, the constraints may very well produce novel solutions applicable on a larger scale across the globe.

"The development of a hybrid battery with high energy and high power density requires an improvement to the slow energy storage rate of battery-type anodes as well as the enhancement of the relatively low capacity of supercapacitor-type cathode materials," penned the team.

According to the KAIST team, the SIHES can achieve an energy density of 247 watt-hours per kilogram and a power density of 34,748 watts per kilogram, a breakthrough with broader applications across various electronic devices, from phones and personal electronics to electric vehicles and aerospace technologies.


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