UT Austin Makes Advancements in Sodium Batteries

For a long time now, the University of Texas in Austin has made lots of attempts to create sodium ion Batteries that could outperform a traditional lithium battery. Scientists and engineers have been developing sodium batteries, but unlike the previous failed designs where the anode which is the component of a battery would tend to grow dendrites which are needle-like filaments that could cause an electric short or even make the batteries catch fire or explode. The scientists have risen from the ashes and built a new sodium anode material called the sodium antimony telluride intermetallic that can surpass the previous huddle which is the formation of dendrites that was previously a common problem. The new anode material is made by rolling a thin piece of sodium metal over a powder of antimony telluride, then folding it over itself, and repeating the process.

This process makes sure that there’s a uniform distribution of the sodium atom that makes forming dendrites less likely

The sodium batteries were being built so they can be a much-preferred alternative to replace cobalt and lithium used in lithium-ion batteries that currently power everything including our cell phones. As it uses a more natural and environmentally friendly material Sodium, the batteries are cheaper as the materials for the design are easily attainable. 

One of the two recent advances in sodium battery design from the University of Texas, it solves the common dendrite problem and it recharges just as fast as a traditional lithium-ion battery. Thus, making the battery more stable and allowing faster charging.

David Mitlin who is a professor at the department of mechanical engineering and applied research laboratory in the Cockrell school for engineering walker who designed the material attested to the fact that the sodium ion battery solves two problems at once. When you charge faster dendrites tend to grow more which was a major problem but all of a sudden it is safe as you can either charge or discharge faster once the growth of the dendrite is suppressed. 

Professor Graeme Henkelman from the department of chemistry and the Oden Institute for computational engineering and sciences explained from a theoretical view why the material in its way unique through his use of a computer model. Hypothetically, the sodium metal anode has an energy density that is higher than any sodium anode which makes the material more startling. 

Lithium-ion batteries have been a cause for concern for some time because of the impact on the environment through the material lithium and cobalt used in production.  Lithium mining has a heavy impact on the environment, soil and water pollution, carbon emissions, and heavy groundwater use are some of the many impacts it has on the environment. Cobalt mining is mostly mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo( DRC) where aside from making it more expensive it has had a huge impact on the environment as well as the health of humans. This is too much of a consequence to take especially now when the demand for static energy has increased. In contrast to sodium mining that is cheaper and more eco-friendly.