Sodium-ion batteries have emerged as a promising, low-cost alternative to lithium-ion batteries to store electrical energy for the power grid. Sodium is less expensive, not as toxic, and more abundant than lithium. The problem, however, is their low performance and the toxicity of the other materials used in sodium-ion batteries.
The general concept behind the operation of a sodium-ion battery is the same as that of the lithium-ion battery. During charging and discharging, sodium ions move back and forth between the anode and cathode: The ions are extracted from the cathode and are intercalated in the anode. Because sodium ions are about 55% larger than lithium ions, it has been difficult to find electrode materials that can handle the larger ion.
A team led by John Goodenough, a professor of mechanical engineering at the Univ. of Texas at Austin, has developed a new cathode material made of the nontoxic and inexpensive mineral eldfellite — NaFe(SO4)2...
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