World’s first anode-free sodium solid-state battery

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From pv magazine ESS News site

In what is described as the world’s first, researchers at the Laboratory for Energy Storage and Conversion (LESC) have managed to devise design principles for enabling an anode-free all-solid-state battery.

LESC is a collaboration between the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering and the University of California San Diego’s Aiiso Yufeng Li Family Department of Chemical and Nano Engineering.

“Although there have been previous sodium, solid-state, and anode-free batteries, no one has been able to successfully combine these three ideas until now,” said UC San Diego PhD candidate Grayson Deysher, the first author of a new paper outlining the team’s work.

To create a sodium battery, which is said to boast an energy density on par with lithium-ion batteries, the research team needed to invent a new sodium battery architecture.

It opted for an anode-free battery design, which removes the anode and stores the ions on electrochemical deposition of alkali metal directly on the current collector. Eliminating the anode enables reduced weight and volume, higher cell voltage, lower cell cost, and increased energy density, but brings its own challenges.

“In any anode-free battery there needs to be good contact between the electrolyte and the current collector,” Deysher said. “This is typically very easy when using a liquid electrolyte, as the liquid can flow everywhere and wet every surface. A solid electrolyte cannot do this.”

However, the liquid electrolytes create a buildup called solid electrolyte interphase while steadily consuming the active materials, reducing the battery’s lifetime.

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