Energy

Low-Cost Batteries from Abundant Resources

British startup Faradion produces sodium-ion batteries that operate on similar principles to other rechargeable batteries. However, their unique cell chemistry results in high performance, enhanced safety and reduced costs. Compared to more common lithium-ion batteries, the main ingredient in Faradion’s batteries, sodium, is a readily available and naturally abundant resource, offering a solution for more sustainable battery production.

Faradion14.5.15 - Grove. The world's first vehicle powered sodium-ion batteries, developed by Faradion in conjunction with Williams Advanced Engineering and the University of Oxford, part funded by Innovate UK. Photo: Professional Images/@ProfImages

The reduction in costs for sodium-ion compared with lithium-ion batteries is primarily due to the abundance and ease of processing sodium versus lithium. Additionally, the high conductivity of the sodium-ion battery, and the ability to use aluminium instead of copper in the cell components, offer further environmental and cost advantages.

E-bike at Williams Advanced Engineering

The first vehicle to be powered by Faradion’s sodium-ion batteries – an e-bike – was demonstrated in May 2015. Faradion leads a consortium that received $1.9 million to significantly reduce the cost of electric vehicle batteries via cheaper sodium-ion technology. In January 2017, the company received another £3.2m in Series B funding.

Why you should care

Battery storage systems are much needed as they have potential to solve a number of problems, from islands and off-grid applications, to domestic storage of solar energy, to fast regulation in grids using large proportions of renewable energy. The battery is just one of the components making up these energy storage systems, but generally accounts for two thirds of the costs. By bringing battery costs down, Faradion could make energy storage systems more accessible and integrated at multiple levels. Additionally, the sodium-ion chemistry makes it possible to fully discharge the cells, enabling them to be handled, transported and stored at zero volts with no risk of hazards like explosions or release of harmful gases.

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