Energy Storage @ School of Energy Science and Engineering, IIT Kharagpur

Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) have become dominant over all battery technology for portable and large-scale electric energy storage since their commercialization in 1991. The world has geared up for e-mobility for transportation and renewable energy storage for power production, where large-scale stationary storage devices have become irrelevant.1,2 The continuous consumption of limited reserve lithium for large-scale applications has raised the cost of LIBs over six times in the last decade.3

        Sodium-ion batteries (SIBs) stand out as an alternative to LIBs due to better raw material distribution, less toxic, less expansive, and similar electrochemistry. As for the SIB system, Na-ions move between the anode and cathode through either an aqueous, non-aqueous or solid-state electrolyte in a rocking chair fashion during the process of charge/discharge. The promising cathode material for SIBs is layered oxide, polyanionic compound, and Prussian blue analogs-based compounds, whereas hard carbon (H.C.) is used as anode materials due to low-cost fabrication, abundance, and tunable electronic and structural properties.4,5 Apart from electrode materials difference in SIBs, another significant change is the use of the current collector. In LIBs, aluminum (Al) foil is used as a current collector for the cathode, and copper (Cu) foil must be for the anode because Li forms an alloy with Al metal at lower potentials, and a porous separator with the electrolyte solution is placed in between the two electrodes to prevent short circuit.6 SIBs follow a similar architecture instead with the possibility of using Al foil as the current collector for the anode since Na does not form alloy at a lower potential.

The material replacement of lithium with sodium and copper by aluminum could lower the cost of SIBs but increase the mass and volume of the overall battery system compared with LIBs. Cost-effectiveness ($/kWh) plays a crucial role in designing a battery for commercial success in end-user applications. The cost analysis of SIBs is primarily up to active materials combinations at the cell, module, and pack levels. Although, the direct comparison of SIBs and LIBs is not feasible in terms of cost-effectiveness because SIBs are not fabricated or manufactured on an equivalent scale to LIBs. The published review article in the Journal of Energy Storage will summarize the existing battery technologies and the recent progress for emerging SIBs in the cathode, anode, aqueous, non-aqueous, and solid-state electrolyte systems. It provides cost analysis and insights into how SIBs are commercially viable with low cost and high performance. Finally, an overview is presented on the state-of-the-art SIBs to know existing challenges, future opportunities, and directions for commercialization.     

The figure illustrates the chemistry and energy densities of commercialized SIBs

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(1)      Zhang, H.; Liu, X.; Li, H.; Hasa, I.; Passerini, S. Challenges, and Strategies for High-Energy Aqueous Electrolyte Rechargeable Batteries. Angew. Chemie - Int. Ed. 2021, 60 (2), 598–616.

(2)      Pasta, M.; Wessells, C. D.; Liu, N.; Nelson, J.; McDowell, M. T.; Huggins, R. A.; Toney, M. F.; Cui, Y. Full Open-Framework Batteries for Stationary Energy Storage. Nat. Commun. 2014, 5, 1–9.

(3)      Greim, P.; Solomon, A. A.; Breyer, C. Assessment of Lithium Criticality in the Global Energy Transition and Addressing Policy Gaps in Transportation. Nat. Commun. 2020, 11 (2020), 1–11.

(4)      Muñoz-Márquez, M. Á.; Saurel, D.; Gómez-Cámer, J. L.; Casas-Cabanas, M.; Castillo-Martínez, E.; Rojo, T. Na-Ion Batteries for Large Scale Applications: A Review on Anode Materials and Solid Electrolyte Interphase Formation. Adv. Energy Mater. 2017, 7 (20).

(5)      Palomares, V.; Casas-Cabanas, M.; Castillo-Martínez, E.; Han, M. H.; Rojo, T. Update on Na-Based Battery Materials. A Growing Research Path. Energy Environ. Sci. 2013, 6 (8), 2312–2337.

(6)      Myung, S. T.; Yashiro, H. Electrochemical Stability of Aluminum Current Collector in Alkyl Carbonate Electrolytes Containing Lithium Bis(Pentafluoroethylsulfonyl)Imide for Lithium-Ion Batteries. J. Power Sources 2014, pp 167–173.