All batteries are composed of Lithium that is mined in South America. Lithium isn’t found in abundance hence if the South american mines run out then battery production will come to a complete halt. In regards to this, there were many experts who were trying to deem a possible alternative and thus discovered that Sodium can the suit this very need.
Sodium unlike Lithium is found in abundance and is very cheap but Sodium’s tendency to be so reactive was a challenge that scientists were facing. Sodium is reactive even if kept under water so researchers in Purdue university found a method to convert sodium to a powder that has fixed the problem of Sodium giving away its ions too soon in a reaction. sodium Powder has shown to hold a charge properly.
“Adding fabricated sodium powder during electrode processing requires only slight modifications to the battery production process,” said Vilas Pol, Purdue associate professor of chemical engineering. “This is one potential way to progress sodium-ion battery technology to the industry.”
The Journal of Power Sources published the study online in June of this year.
Researchers investigated methods of making Sodium ion batteries because they can be used to store energy derived from solar and wind power facilities. Sodium-ion batteries are heavier than lithium-ion batteries and sodium is known to stick to the anode (carbon end of the battery) and not move up to the cathode during a charging cycle building up to a structure they have termed as “solid electrolyte interface”. The powdered version of sodium will eliminate this challenge of sodium settling at the carbon end and will not build up in a way that consumes sodium ions thus protecting the carbon.
Making the sodium powder posed to be a big challenge as it needed to be developed in an environment that reduced or completely eliminated sodium’s exposure to moisture. For this they made sodium powder in a glove box filled with argon gas (argon is a noble gas that doesn’t react with any element). After putting it in the glove box, they used ultrasound to melt sodium chunks and converted into milky purple liquid. This purple liquid is cooled into a powder and is suspended in a hexane solution to evenly disperse the powder particles. The drops of sodium suspension are put onto to the anode or cathode electrodes which will allow the sodium ion battery cell to charge and discharge with more stability and higher capacity – these are the minimum requirements for a functional battery.