Arizona State University researchers are working on a potential game-changer for battery technology: mixing lithium and sodium. Their aim is to cut costs and stabilize the supply chain, with preliminary results showing a thermodynamically stable 10% sodium-lithium mixture, expected to reach 20%.
Lithium is becoming the new gold, with rocketing use in lithium-ion batteries in electric cars, computers, and portable devices driving up the price and affecting the supply of the relatively rare metal. Scientists are on the verge of developing a way of using sodium to replace some of the lithium, so driving down costs and guaranteeing the supply.
Recently scientists have looked at dispensing with lithium altogether and instead using sodium or other elements in high quality batteries. Sodium is cheaper and more available (it’s found in seawater, as sodium chloride), but they have disadvantages, and lithium batteries remain the best, in terms of delivering the concentrated charge needed to power cars and portable devices.
Ph. D student Tullio Geraci and Professor Alexandra Navrotsky from Arizona State University have adopted a different approach; mixing lithium and sodium in the same battery. promises to ease supply problems and open the way to cheaper batteries and a more secure supply chain.
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