China’s CATL announced that they have made a sodium-ion battery. Production of the new automotive batteries, which are much more cold tolerant than lithium batteries, will start in 2023.
Higher energy density, lower environmental impact, longer lifetime, orders of magnitude shorter charging time, less flammable, cheaper production, to name just a few of the futuristic goals of dozens of battery technology research labs. But the basic research is still going on.
It started normally, someone, a scientist this time, bought some spinach at the grocery store, took it home, washed it and salted it a bit. The sequel is what turned out to be unusual in that the end result was not a weekend lunch but a battery.
Nuclear waste from nuclear power plants is a huge problem for humanity. In current practice, although it is produced in industrial quantities, it is also stored at huge cost, usually in bunker-like underground reinforced concrete sarcophagi. A company is now producing batteries from this hazardous waste to be used in all kinds of vehicles, cars, electric aircraft, etc.
The new energy storage combines two subgroups of battery development: solid-state electrolyte with an anode made entirely of silicon. The result is a highly energy-dense, cheap and durable battery that can be used as a grid storage device in the same way as in electric cars and the electric aircraft that are being developed.
The electric flying car is really two innovations in one, and could remain in the realm of fiction alongside the existing batteries. However, using newly developed fast-charging lithium-ion cells, such a four-wheeler could travel up to 80 kilometres.