Potentially Cheaper & Cleaner than Lithium-Ion Battery Tech : German Researchers Use Apple Waste in High-Power Sodium-Ion Batteries

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology Helmholtz Institute Ulm biowaste sodium-ion lithium-ion batteries
© KIT/ Helmholtz Institute Ulm

Researchers at Germany’s Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) are developing an active material produced from waste apples, and another material of layered oxides, which could reduce the costs of future carbon-based sodium-ion batteries for energy storage systems.

According to KIT sodium-ion batteries are not only far more powerful than nickel-metal hydride or lead acid accumulators, but also represent an alternative to lithium-ion technology, as the initial materials needed are highly abundant, easily accessible, and available at low cost.

The researchers said that because of these properties, sodium-ion batteries are a very promising technology for stationary energy storage systems that play a central role in the transformation of the energy system and will be a highly attractive market in the future.

The team from KIT’s Helmholtz Institute Ulm and led by Professor Stefano Passerini and Dr. Daniel Buchholz from of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology claimed to have made an important step towards the development of active materials for such sodium-based energy storage systems.

For the negative electrode, a carbon-based material was developed, which can be produced from apple waste and was said to possess excellent electrochemical properties. So far, more than 1000 charge and discharge cycles of high cyclic stability and high capacity have been demonstrated.

This discovery was said to represent an important step towards the sustainable use and exploitation of resources, such as organic waste.

The material developed for the positive electrode consists of several layers of sodium oxides. According to the researchers this active material can be produced without the expensive and environmentally hazardous element cobalt that is frequently used in active materials of commercial lithium-ion batteries.

In the laboratory, the new active material, in which electrochemical energy storage takes place, was said to reach the same efficiency, cyclic stability, capacity, and voltage without any cobalt.

The results have been recently presented in two scientific journals:

Apple Biowaste-Derived Hard Carbon as a Powerful Anode Material for Na-Ion Batteries: ChemElectroChem, doi: 10.1002/celc.201500437

Layered Na-Ion Cathodes with Outstanding Performance Resulting from the Synergetic Effect of Mixed P- and O-type Phases: Advanced Energy Materials, doi: 10.1002/aenm.201501555.

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