Battery breakthrough could eliminate range anxiety for electric vehicles

New process offers alternative to expensive lithium-ion batteries

Anthony Cuthbertson
Friday 12 April 2024 06:47 BST
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Scientists have discovered a new process that could supercharge the transition to next-generation rechargeable batteries capable of more than doubling the range of current electric vehicles.

The research could help facilitate a switch from conventional lithium-ion batteries – which are found in everything from smartphones to electric cars – to solid-state sodium batteries, which are both cheaper and safer.

Solid-state sodium batteries are also made of materials that are far more abundant than their lithium-ion counterparts, however until now mass production has proved difficult.

A team from Osaka Metropolitan University in Japan claim the newly discovered process could overcome this obstacle through the mass synthesis of a highly conductive electrolyte.

“This newly developed process is useful for the production of almost all sodium-containing sulfide materials, including solid electrolytes and electrode active materials,” said Professor Atsushi Sakuda from Osaka Metropolitan University.

“Also, compared to conventional methods, this process makes it easier to obtain materials that display higher performance, so we believe it will become a mainstream process for the future development of materials for all-solid-state sodium batteries.”

The solid sulfide electrolyte has the world’s highest reported sodium ion conductivity – roughly 10 times higher than is required for commercial use.

Unlike the liquid electrolytes used in lithium-ion batteries, the solid electrolyte is not susceptible to bursting into flames when dropped or charged in the wrong way.

The breakthrough could prove most promising for the electric vehicle sector, offering superiour performance, reduced cost and enhanced sustainability.

They could also eliminate range anxiety by vastly improve the charging capacity of electric car batteries.

Japanese automaker Toyota claims solid-state batteries could offer a range of 1,200 km, which is more than twice the range of electric vehicles currently on the market. Charge times for these new batteries could be as short as 10 minutes.

The research was published in the scientific journal Energy Storage Materials, in a paper titled ‘Utilising reactive polysulfides flux Na2Sx for the synthesis of sulfide solid electrolytes for all-solid-state sodium batteries’.

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