Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies

Charge of the sodium battery brigade

Wed Aug 28 10:53:00 BST 2013

Sodium battery crystal structureCSCT PhD student Stephen Wood and CSCT member Professor Saiful Islam, with collaborators at the University of Waterloo, Canada, have published key results on new sodium battery materials in a special issue of Energy & Environmental Science.

The portable revolution in mobile phones, laptops and MP3 players has been powered by rechargeable lithium batteries.

Alternative sodium-ion batteries are attracting considerable renewed interest due to cost advantages and the relative abundance of sodium as compared to lithium.

In particular, new sodium-ion batteries are being developed for grid-scale energy storage of intermittent renewables (such as wind and solar), where low cost sustainable materials are crucial.

Now Stephen Wood and Saiful Islam at Bath in collaboration with Linda Nazar’s group at the University of Waterloo, have gained important atomic-scale insights into a novel sodium fluorophosphates compound, which shows good electrochemical performance.

The research team used powerful atomistic simulation techniques to unravel, for the first time, the sodium-ion diffusion paths, which are important for fast charge-discharge rates.

They find that where volume change effects do not cause problems, sodium-ion materials may have advantages over their lithium counterparts.

This work provides a valuable framework for the future design of new materials in the growing area of sodium-ion battery technology.