It's been widely covered that ingesting too much sodium and sugar is bad for your health but now Japanese scientists have found a much better use for the substances - rechargeable batteries.
Japanese researchers have discovered a way to make rechargeable batteries more effective for less money by using the sucrose found in common sugar. Not only would this ideally make the latest battery-powered technology more accessible to more people, but the availability of sugar would promote a much more sustainable tech industry.
Currently, the popular choice for rechargeable batteries is lithium-ion, but mining the rare lithium metal has become a problem in places like Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and China where politics can interfere. This has challenged Japanese scientists to look at cheaper materials such as those found in the promising sodium-ion batteries. But it was this sodium-ion research that led the team at Tokyo University of Science to experiment with sugar as well. By heating the sucrose to 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit in an oxygen-free atmosphere, they were able to create a hard carbon powder that could be embedded into a sodium-ion cell to allow 20% more storage capacity than that of lithium.
Lithium-ion batteries are the preferred portable battery for most electronic devices and hybrid cars currently.
Unfortunately, lithium is in short supply, whereas sodium is much more abundant. If the modern day batteries were switched over to a sodium-ion cell it would greatly lower the price of the product. Researchers like Jay Whitacre, at Carnegie Mellon University, say that the sodium cell would also be able to store more energy which would make it a better option for storing renewable energy at solar and wind farms.
Associate Professor Shinichi Komaba predicts that we'll see this sugar-based battery available commercially in around five years.
Labels: New Research, Science, Sugar Sodium Batteries of the Future