Friday, March 4, 2011

No. 255: Develop an inexpensive battery without lithium ion for vehicle and residential use (March 3, 2011)

Sumitomo Electric developed a new battery that uses sodium ion in place of lithium ion. The newly-developed sodium-ion battery is considerably cheaper than a lithium-ion battery. The former is only one tenth of the latter in price. In addition, sodium-ion battery can be downsized more easily than lithium-ion battery. The company plans to commercialize it toward 2015 as the next-generation battery for vehicles and households. The main ingredient is molten salt that needs to remain melted at more than 300 degrees centigrade for applications. The company developed a new sodium-based material that can be melted at 57 degrees centigrade in alliance with Kyoto University and opened up the way for applications. The new product has about two times as much energy density as the standard lithium-ion battery, and it allows an electric vehicle to run two times much distance as a lithium-ion battery of the same capacity. It is made entirely of incombustible materials, and strong against high temperature and impact. Because sodium is cheaper than lithium, the new battery is estimated to cost 20,000 yen per kilowatt, much cheaper even than competitive products from China. Sumitomo Electric and Kyoto University jointly filed a patent application.

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