back to article Boffins step into the Li-ion's den with sodium-ion battery that's potentially as good as a lithium cousin

The world's mobile electronics, from phones to cars, largely run on batteries containing lithium, which is relatively expensive. Sodium-ion batteries are cheaper to make, but they rapidly wear out compared to their Li-ion cousins. Now scientists in America and China have created a sodium-ion-based battery that can potentially …

  1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker Bronze badge
    Thumb Up

    A materials win-win?

    As far as I know (i.e. I might be speaking out of my @$$), the primary source of sodium in industry is salt. (I'm near a major salt mine, and I think it's still operational at reduced levels.) The byproduct of this is chlorine. Given the ongoing pandemic, bleach and other chlorine products are in demand now more than ever. So let's mine some more salt and provide feedstocks to both cleaners and batteries!

    (P.S. I never knew just how much chlorine "bleach" one family could use until we bought a house with an inground pool last year -- 30,000 gallons, 10 foot max depth. Just trying to keep it safe, clean, and clear takes a LOT of "chlorinator" and some "shock" (also chlorine-based). Note that "clean" water isn't necessarily completely "clear", and vice versa, and if you use too much chlorine it's no longer "safe", causing skin/eye issues -- essentially a chemical burn. When we removed the dark winter cover a month ago, the algae started to grow and we couldn't get the chlorine levels up until I added a jug of algaecide. Once that was killed off and vacuumed out then we got the water chemistry stabilized and much clearer too.)

    1. devTrail

      Re: A materials win-win?

      How come every single article becomes an excuse for the fake flu propaganda?

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Fake flu ?

        There have been more than 370,000 deaths globally and you're talking about a fake flu ?

        You work on Fox News or what ?

      2. Arctic fox
        Mushroom

        Re: "fake flu propaganda?"

        This "fake flu" has so far killed over 100,000 US citizens in the course of approximately four months. That is equivalent to an annualised rate of over 300,000 per year which in turn is approximately 15 times the death rate per year in the US due to seasonal flu of the type we are all familiar with. Fake? It seems all too horribly real to me. I suggest you shove that alt-right reality denial where the sun doesn't shine. Or maybe adopt your hero's suggestion and drink some clorox.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "fake flu propaganda?"

          This disease is not a fake flu, it is real and worse than the flu. However, if you really believe that 100,000 people have died from it, I pity you. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that every death is counted as a COVID-19 death. For instance, the New York Times published a list of names they claimed died of COVID-19; the 6th name on the list died of a gunshot wound. Need more proof? How about this? Or this? My mother showed me a text message from a nurse she knows where the local hospital was pressuring this nurse to count a person who died of a heart attack as a COVID-19 death, and the nurse would not. The US CDC even says that a person does not need to be confirmed to have COVID-19 to be counted as a death from it. -- "“When COVID-19 is reported as a cause of death – or when it is listed as a “probable” or “presumed” cause — the death is coded as U07.1. This can include cases with or without laboratory confirmation.”"

          The average age of death of the virus exceeds the average lifespan. Most deaths are in New York, where the idiot governor took sick people out of the hospital into nursing homes. Most deaths are because we did not properly protect the vulnerable.

          A bad virus for sure. Not nowhere near as bad as you have been led to believe.

          1. Arctic fox
            WTF?

            Re: "There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that every death is counted as a COVID-19 death."

            I have read carefully through your post and I can only conclude that you have drunk too much of your hero's recommendation. The giveaway here is that you cite "anecdotal evidence" - exactly the kind of evidence that this POTUS is so fond of.

    2. gotes

      Re: A materials win-win?

      The most common bleach (Sodium Hypochlorite) also contains sodium, so there would be nothing left for the batteries...

    3. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: A materials win-win?

      I doubt its a materials win of any note, I'm not sure how many batteries are recycled but near 100% round here are. The tricky stuff is the rare metals and there seems to be a sulphur based solution (well framework) for that.

  2. 45RPM Silver badge

    What’s the stability of the battery like when damaged? How resistant is it to fire? These are questions which need to be considered given its likely application in cars and (eventually) aircraft.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. devTrail

        You should go back at the periodic table and have a closer look. There the element are grouped by the similar chemical/physical properties. Sodium is so close to lithium that you can't rule out it will have similar problems.

        1. Chris G Silver badge

          Sodium is more reactive than lithium, so a lot of free Na ions knocking around after a battery breach could be quite stimulating.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            When I was in sixth form there was a law or best practice change that limited the amount of reactive metals that a school was allowed to keep in stores, our school had way too much so they gave the sixth form chemistry class the excess and a few buckets of water and told us to dispose of it...

      2. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Sodium will react just as vigorously. Throw some sodium metal in water for some fun times.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Vague memories of chemistry lessons, but was it the Na that fizzed and floated on a cushion of hydrogen while the Li did the same but produced enough heat to ignite the hydrogen?

          1. swm Silver badge

            In high school we squirted HCl acid onto pieces of sodium and it made little fireballs.

          2. Cuddles Silver badge

            "Vague memories of chemistry lessons, but was it the Na that fizzed and floated on a cushion of hydrogen while the Li did the same but produced enough heat to ignite the hydrogen?"

            No, it was potassium that did that. As noted by someone above, lithium is less reactive than sodium. Potassium is the next one down the list and significantly more reactive. You might also have seen video of rubidium, which is even more reactive to the point they don't generally allow it in schools. When dropped in water, lithium gives a dissapointing fizz, sodium floats around on a cushion of hydrogen, potassium ignities the hydrogen (usually in a series of pops rather than a constant flame), rubidium blows up the water tank.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Here I want to introduce the ElReg community to the YouTube channel that makes excellent, scientifically sound videos. Search YouTube for

              Professor Nottingham

              or just

              https://www.youtube.com/user/periodicvideos/featured

              lots of fizzy stuff

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      OMG!

      Do you just possibly think that this might, just perhaps, have been something the researchers thought about......What about thinking what happens if they end up being used in toys and swallowed by babies? Or what if it was used in a laptop and the sodium leaked out near a swimming pool and reacted and formed salt and spoiled the flavour of my Pina colada?

    3. Mage Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: How resistant is it to fire?

      Sodium metal is stored under oil. It burns well and explosively underwater.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How resistant is it to fire?

        This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Blackjack Silver badge

    Is all about money

    If this battery ends being cheaper then it can be as bad as only 80% of the other ones.

    Why? Money dear boy.

  4. Mark192 Silver badge

    This will do well

    We already get rechargeable lithium batteries used in throwaway/single use/limited use devices.

    A cheaper battery tech that's a drop in replacement looks like a winner.

  5. Quenda

    Lithium is only a small part of the cost of a Li-ion battery. Even if the lithium raw material was free the cost savings would be <10% off the cost of a battery. These guys should focus on performance (longer life, power density, better electrodes, charging times, safety etc) if they want to replace lithium - not likely to happen on economics alone.

  6. 2+2=5 Silver badge
    Headmaster

    "Sodium does provide better environmental benignity..."

    Oh the indignity!

    1. Danny Boyd Bronze badge

      Re: "Sodium does provide better environmental benignity..."

      But it does. Sodium, unlike lithium, is not poisonous (unless we're talking sodium cyanide).

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