Sodium-ion batteries could be the future of Electric Vehicles. Unlike costly Lithium-ion batteries, sodium-ion alternatives offer a more affordable and reliable solution. However, their performance declines with repeated use, hindering their market potential. A recent study has discovered the cause of this performance drop, paving the way for improved sodium-ion batteries.
Researchers identified cathode material defects as the culprit for the performance decline. Using electron microscopy and X-ray scattering, they observed these defects forming during the cathode production process. This insight will guide the design of defect-free cathodes, leading to longer-lasting sodium-ion batteries.
With this knowledge, battery developers can create virtually defect-free cathodes for sodium-ion batteries. These improved batteries could outperform current lithium-based batteries in cost, lifespan, and charging speed. This breakthrough could make Electric Vehicles more affordable and efficient, and reduce energy storage costs on the electric grid.
The research, conducted by Argonne National Laboratory, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Stanford University, used high-energy X-ray beams and nanoscale materials analysis. They found that defects form during the cooling-off period of the cathode synthesis process. These defects lead to a decline in performance, especially under quick charging or high temperatures. By controlling these defects, we can ensure stable, high-voltage cycling of sodium-ion batteries.
The DOE Vehicle Technologies Office funded this research. The study was conducted at the Advanced Photon Source and the Center for Nanoscale Materials, both DOE Office of Science user facilities.
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