French researchers have spent the last two years creating a new battery prototype called sodium-ion. The main advantage of the prototype is that it relies on sodium, an element far more abundant and less costly than lithium. The batteries have displayed performance levels comparable to their lithium counterparts, and this new technology is already attracting industrial interest.
The concept for Sodium-ion was established in the 1980’s, but at the time, lithium was preferred to sodium as the material of choice and it has been widely used ever since for portable electronic devices such as tablets, laptops and electric vehicles. However, lithium has a major drawback in that it is fairly rare on our planet and only found in Chile, China and Columbia.
The global market for batteries should reach 80 billion dollars in 2020, twice that of today. Researches are currently evaluating commercial applications to showcase what the final product can be capable of. They have already partnered with Toyota who are developing a prototype of a sodium-ion car battery, while the British startup Faradion, in association with Oxford University, made a demonstration of an electric bicycle powered by a sodium-ion battery.