NaSS – Aqueous sodium batteries for sustainable storage

April 17th, 2023

Due to the growing electric mobility, lithium-ion batteries (LIB) are produced on an ever larger scale, which leads to a large cost reduction and new possibilities for their use in energy storage at grid and/or household level. By 2040, the number of electric vehicles is expected to increase by two to three orders of magnitude and stationary storage can reach up to 1,300 GWh.

This raises concerns about the future and long-term availability and cost of critical raw materials (particularly cobalt, nickel, copper and lithium) used in LIB. Although LIBs are ideally suited for use in electromobility, Germany and Europe also need new, reliable, sustainable and cost-effective batteries for stationary storage. In such a scenario, sodium-ion batteries with aqueous electrolytes are an attractive alternative. 

The Helmholtz Institute Ulm of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology coordinates the new research project “NaSS” (aqueous sodium batteries for cost-effective and sustainable stationary energy storage, FKZ 03XP0490), which is funded by the BMBF as part of the Battery 2020 Transfer program. The project aims to demonstrate a novel rechargeable aqueous Na-ion cell chemistry based on non-critical raw materials.

The holistic approach of the project includes the modelling, synthesis and characterization of new materials as well as their validation in prototype cells. In cooperation with the project partner Forschungszentrum Jülich, novel mixed-conducting electrode materials based on readily available metal components are being developed and tested. These will make it possible to take full advantage of the improved stability window of water-in-salt electrolytes, which are composed of non-fluorinated, inexpensive sodium salts. Finally, the acquired know-how will be used for the production of very thick electrodes with high surface capacity, which will be used in a small laboratory-scale demonstration prototype.

As a result of the project, in addition to the functioning Na-ion low-temperature battery, an industrializable, technological process chain from the material to the battery cell is to be developed together with the industry advisory board (Schott AG, BMZ GmbH and Hanwha Q CELLS GmbH) for an innovative and environmentally friendly stationary Energy storage “Made in Germany”.


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