Nanocrystals Could Boost Sodium Batteries Just in Time to Relieve Lithium Mining Pressures

A new breakthrough in battery tech could make sodium batteries more competitive with lithium-ion batteries.  The breakthrough comes at a time when mining for lithium is increasingly becoming a problem, in terms of finding more lithium and in terms of environmental impacts of lithium mining.

Two scientists, Min-Kyu Song and Yuehe Lin, have developed a way to use tin oxide nanocrystals to improve the efficiency of a sodium battery.  The technique could also make lithium batteries more efficient as well.

Sodium battery research could provide cheap, effective lithium alternative

Sodium-ion batteries might soon provide a less expensive, viable alternative to lithium-ion batteries thanks to research developed at Washington State University.

The new technology also would help solve material sustainability issues by alleviating the mining of lithium – a diminishing resource.Led by professors Min-Kyu Song and Yuehe Lin in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, the researchers used tiny tin oxide nanocrystals supported on a graphene structure to vastly improve the battery. The technology also could be used in lithium-ion batteries, making it more attractive for manufacturing. They recently published their work in the journal Nano Research.

…..Using tin oxide in a battery’s anode gives it the potential to store almost three times the energy of graphite that is typically used in batteries, and it’s easy to make. However, tin oxide wears out quickly and stops working.

In their study, the researchers were able to solve the degradation problem by making ultrafine nanocrystals of tin dioxide that were tightly bound to three-dimensional graphene structure. Their hybrid structure was robust, well connected and porous, allowing for better transport of electrons and ions.

“It is all about how effectively the ions and electrons move,” said Song

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