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Power Technology

Researchers Create Sodium Battery In Industry Standard "18650" Format (gizmag.com) 209

Zothecula sends word that a French team has developed a battery using sodium ions in the usual "18650" format. Gizmag reports: "A team of researchers in France has taken a major step towards powering our devices with rechargeable batteries based on an element that is far more abundant and cheaper than lithium. For the first time ever, a battery has been developed using sodium ions in the industry standard "18650" format used in laptop batteries, LED flashlights and the Tesla Model S, among other products."
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Researchers Create Sodium Battery In Industry Standard "18650" Format

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  • Pardon me if I use the name-dropping to think lesser of the company that has made the announcement.
  • Sakura Battery (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 30, 2015 @05:56PM (#51029827)

    It seems like we're getting announcements about revolutionary world changing never seen before astounding new battery designs every day, but nothing ever comes to market.

    Maybe it's time to question what the fuck is wrong with the shitty "journalism" that tries and make huge stories out of nothing.

    • I dont think its fair to say nothing has come to market, there have been many advances in just the past 10 years
    • Maybe it's time to question what the fuck is wrong with the shitty "journalism" that tries and make huge stories out of nothing.

      Did you click the link?

      If you did, they got what they wanted.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by shaitand ( 626655 )
      Have you considered it might be time to ask what the fuck is wrong with the fossil fuel giants who buy up any breakthrough energy related technology and vanish it.
      • If a company buys a startup, there are two possible reasons.

        It wants to sit on the startup and hang on to the current business model.
        Or
        It's looking for a new business model.

        Might we hope for the latter option?

      • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Monday November 30, 2015 @06:36PM (#51030051) Homepage

        My father has had various top executive roles in oil companies for the past two decades. We often crack jokes with each other about this sort of stuff. "Gee, dad, how was work - suppress any new revolutionary clean energy technologies today?" "Only two... and you know we've only managed to buy off twelve congressmen this month - total? *Sigh*, the business just isn't what it used to be..." "Oh, sorry to hear that dad... maybe you should start a new war, that always works." "Yeah, I'll bring it up at the next Illuminati meeting..." ;)

        • by dbIII ( 701233 )
          In the late 1990s a famous artist brought his "revolutionary fuel saving" device to the university mechanical engineering department I worked at for independent testing. It turns out he was tuning for idling. So his car engine used very little fuel while sitting at the lights doing nothing and produced crap performance and crap fuel economy while actually moving the vehicle. There was a lot of that going on.
          However there have been a small number of real advances from non-experts, I think it was sometime
          • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

            What happened to the all-ceramic engine? Not all engines have to move themselves, some just move other things while staying in place. (though not many I can think of right now).

            • by dbIII ( 701233 )
              Mercedes built one - it worked, for a carefully crafted single prototype. One underlying problem is the cost of machining to tolerances tight enough to use as an engine was very high. Another is that although "tough" ceramics are used the size of acceptable flaws is very low or the components crack - so quality control and a large number of rejects becomes an issue. It looked like around a million dollars per engine would be the cost if mass produced.
              The commercial outcome was ceramic cylinder liners for
            • Generators are the biggest users of stationary engines I can think of, and they are used most often in poor countries where the fuel savings would make a real difference. It doesn't really matter how much they weigh once they reach a customers site.
          • That is interesting but is a different conversation. Note how quickly you jumped to random crackpot related material or conspiracy material. And this after the mass government warrantless NSA spying cover-up was unveiled.

            The claim was that energy companies buy up emerging energy technology startups. Startups like university researchers who bred algae that turns sunlight and nutrients in a tank directly into gasoline, diesel fuel, and other hydrocarbons. These aren't laymen in their garage trying to build th
            • Literally no action a corporation takes is for any purpose but saving or making maximum profit.

              Many corporations, especially small ones, are created to protect the owners from (often frivolous) lawsuits.

              There are also charity corporations.

              Corporations are run by people, and many of those people have motives other than maximizing profit -- the profit is there to make possible the development of their dream.

              • "Many corporations, especially small ones, are created to protect the owners from (often frivolous) lawsuits.

                There are also charity corporations."

                Small businesses are made for the same reason as large businesses. Protecting yourself from liability from your actions is a way to make money by saving money. You might collect profits all year long as plumber and then fold rather than pay the bill out of your profits when you destroy someone's home by flooding the basement. You've just increased your bottom line
        • Existing energy companies can and do buy up almost any emerging energy startup with a real product. It isn't even a secret, their justification is that oil won't last forever and they want to be the ones who own whatever comes next. Like any and all corporations they exist to make profit and anything which would result in a model that would reduce their profit isn't pursued further. There are no shortage of companies who have bought other companies primarily to take them out of the game and energy companies
      • Re:Sakura Battery (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Dereck1701 ( 1922824 ) on Monday November 30, 2015 @07:52PM (#51030481)

        While I have no doubt that some of the current heavyweights in the energy market like to buy up and sit on some companies with promising developments I highly doubt that they can keep major advances held down too long. The article notes that lithium-ion batteries were developed in Europe but never commercialized (patents? NIMBYs? Lack of production capacity?), then Asia got a hold of the technology and it exploded onto the market. You may be able to control minor advances in a few markets where corrupt government officials are willing to play ball with you but major advances are going to find a market somewhere no matter what, and those places are more likely to locations where governments haven't wrapped everything up in 12 layers of red tape (patents, copyright, OSHA, etc).

      • ... That tech is harder and some development do not pan out of the lab.
        • False dichotomy, developments not panning out of the lab do not preclude energy companies from buying up advances they believe will pan out.
    • Re: Sakura Battery (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I weep a little extra for the world when even a presumably technically literate audience like Slashdot don't understand and appreciate basic science and scientific progress but immediately starts the consumer chant 'I want to buy it now or it has no value'.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I keep old rechargeable batteries around to disprove the notion that there have been no advancements.

      #1 Radio Shack NiCad D size battery from the late 1980's. 1.2V 1200 Mah
      #2 Energizer NiMh AA size battery from the late 2000's 1.2V 2600 Mah (up to 1.4v when fully charged)
      #2 R/C heli Lipo, volume equivalent to C size from post 2010 3.7V 5000 Mah

      You do the math.

      • by x0ra ( 1249540 )

        #1 Radio Shack NiCad D size battery from the late 1980's. 1.2V 1200 Mah
        #2 Energizer NiMh AA size battery from the late 2000's 1.2V 2600 Mah (up to 1.4v when fully charged)

        1) battery voltage without load is meaningless, 2) a 2x capacity increase over nearly 30 years is pretty laughable and 3) I think you meant mAh, not Mahhttp://hardware.slashdot.org/story/15/11/30/2018211/researchers-create-sodium-battery-in-industry-standard-18650-format#

        • by nightfire-unique ( 253895 ) on Monday November 30, 2015 @07:11PM (#51030263)

          Assuming a linear-ish discharge curve over a 70% discharge, 1.44Wh D cell to 18.5Wh (equivalent) C cell is not a 2x capacity increase.

          I want battery technology to increase an order of magnitude every year too, ... but come on. We've made enormous strides.

          You, yourself, can buy low-resistance, low-self-discharge lithium ion batteries at 250Wh/kg. And they're cheap. Compare that to 30Wh/kg NiCD batteries of 30 years ago.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Consumer secondary batteries have 10x higher energy density by weight and volume today as compared to 30 years ago.

          Your smartphone battery would weigh 1lb, and be 5 times the thickness of your phone, if made using 1980s nicd.

          • by KGIII ( 973947 )

            We're geeks and nerds. We don't get out much. We kind of expect everything to increase at a rate similar to Moore's Law and anything less means there's a conspiracy (involving one of two major US political parties or secret organizations). Once in a while, we're right! We then tout this out proudly as a means to show our wit and insight - also to validate any other theories we might have.

            Personally? I'm pretty sure we'd have better battery tech but we don't really understand it as well as we pretend we do.

            • by x0ra ( 1249540 )

              We're geeks and nerds. We don't get out much. We kind of expect everything to increase at a rate similar to Moore's Law and anything less means there's a conspiracy [...].

              Not specifically, it's more along the lines that, if we want to store unreliable "renewable" energy, we'll need a boatload of batteries, which is a field which has been pretty much stagnating. This really comes down to the fact that "those in power" are comfortably shoveling "progress" on actual engineer, or "some" smart ass, without looking at the math. Efficiency follows a logarithmic scale, which mean it's easy to make 90% of the gain, but the more to tend toward 100% of the physically possible, the more

              • by KGIII ( 973947 )

                To wit, is it stagnating or just not progressing as fast as you're expecting? I do see your point about chips but I don't know where battery tech falls on the overall development scales and if we've reached size limits or have just decided that we want everything miniaturized.

        • by msauve ( 701917 )
          Perhaps you didn't notice, but that "laughable" 2x increase what when comparing D size cells from then to AA size cells today. You can get a 10,000 mAh D size NiMH cell today, so an 8x increase would be a fairer comparison.

          And, the OP gave the commonly accepted nominal voltage. Since it's comparable between NiCd and NiMH, mAh is a fair (if imperfect) measure for comparing capacities of cells. Finally, I think you meant "Mah", not "Mahhttp://hardware.slashdot.org/story/15/11/30/2018211/researchers-create-s
        • You may wish to rethink #2 there. That was not just a doubling in storage, but a massive cut in size. A D cell is roughly 8x bigger in volume. So that is 16x increase over less than 20 years.
    • Re:Sakura Battery (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Beck_Neard ( 3612467 ) on Monday November 30, 2015 @07:16PM (#51030297)

      Battery factories are huge and expensive. We're talking billions of dollars. I wish I was kidding. An idea could have the potential to be way better and cheaper than Li-ion but still never make it to market because no one wants to be the first to take such a huge risk. That's why in the past several years plenty of incremental improvements to Li-ion have made it to market, but there haven't been any revolutionary new technologies.

      That said, if a technology proved clearly superior to Li-ion then people would seriously consider investing in it, but most 'battery breakthroughs' still fall short of Li-ion in some ways. For example, they may not have the same longevity, capacity, or safety factor.

      Actually, that's the case here. Sodium batteries have *less* energy capacity than Li-ion, and the expected lifetimes are similar. It's just that they have the potential to be cheaper. But they're never going to be cheaper if no one builds a big factory to make them.

    • So you expect proof of concept inventions to be on the market immediately?
    • by orasio ( 188021 )

      This is exactly what you were waiting for.
      There are lots of awesome battery ideas out there. Prototyping the battery in the 18650 format means that it can work as a drop-in replacement for lithium batteries.

      To the crowd that wants product, not science, this is a big thing. A new battery technology is ready at last, and can be used to replace what we have. They will surely need need a fab process, and money (probably the reason for the press release), but the technology itself is ready at this point.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      How to Succeed in Journalism: Write hundreds of shitty articles about things that will probably not happen (revolutionary new tech, financial disasters, potential industrial accidents etc.) and when one of them eventually does claim to be a visionary genius who got the story first by recognizing its brilliance.

      Do it enough and eventually you will get to work for a content mill or crystal ball gazers like Gartner.

  • by Bookwyrm ( 3535 ) on Monday November 30, 2015 @06:27PM (#51029983)

    Using sodium ions?

    So, they would be (re)charged with "a salt in battery"?

  • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Monday November 30, 2015 @06:29PM (#51029997) Homepage

    Yeay! Because you know that $7-8/kg for lithium carbonate was really breaking the bank.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Because if everyone on the planet starts using batteries to store energy in their cars and at home, there won't be enough lithium and the price will go way above $8/kg?

      I dunno.

      • by mspohr ( 589790 ) on Monday November 30, 2015 @07:00PM (#51030201)

        Lithium is about as abundant as chlorine. Concentrated deposits occur all over the world with proven reserves of about 14 million tonnes and annual production of 36,000 tonnes. It would be really hard to run out (or create scarcity) of lithium.

        • by U2xhc2hkb3QgU3Vja3M ( 4212163 ) on Monday November 30, 2015 @07:03PM (#51030221)

          But if Sodium is less damaging for the environment, is easier to process to make batteries and is cheaper as a result, it means cheaper electric cars and cheaper energy storage at home.

          $5000 electric cars, maybe?

          • by mspohr ( 589790 )

            Lithium is cheap ($7/kg). A 18650 cell has only 0.6 gm lithium... not a major cost.

          • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Monday November 30, 2015 @08:39PM (#51030719)

            $5000 electric cars, maybe?

            Unlikely. Lithium is only a small fraction of the cost of lithium batteries, so switching to sodium won't save much, and sodium is much heavier and has lower power density (by mass or volume). A sodium battery may make sense for static applications where neither weight nor power density matter, but electric car batteries will continue to be based on lithium.

            • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

              Sodium sulphur batteries are used in grid-scale smoothing applications for wind farms, or just as a general backup supply. They are cheap, environmentally friendly and easy to handle.

        • 14 million tonnes of proven reserves - 36,000 tonnes per year used. That's not as much as you think it is. The reserves are all of the lithium both easy to get at and refine and not so easy. Then there is our usage. 36Ktons today. What happens if electric cars really take off and in 5 years we're using 360K tons per year? That means we'll have 40 years of lithium at that rate of use. And that assumes "only" a 10 fold increase in use from electric cars taking off and making up 20% of the market. Wha

          • by Rei ( 128717 )

            Actually, it's just the other way around. The reserves of in-demand materials - especially those for which there was relatively little demand for previously - tend to grow, by orders of magnitude, over time. And the maximum production cost of lithium is essentially capped, because the oceans have an essentially inexhaustable supply, and it costs an estimated $20-35 per kilogram (last I checked, the figure may have gone down since then) to produce lithium salts from it. But nobody is going to be touching t

        • The world currently creates about 56 million passenger cars per year. A Tesla battery contains around 21kg of Lithium in it, so to switch all passenger car production over to lithium batteries, we're looking at in the order of one million tons of Lithium required per year, meaning production would have to ramp up by a factor of about 30, and we'd only have proven reserves for the next fourteen years.

          There's something like 32 million commercial vehicles made a year, and if we assume they need a battery on av

          • by mspohr ( 589790 )

            The Tesla has 7000 batteries at 0.6 gm lithium/battery... so 4 kg per car. Smaller cars will have fewer batteries.
            While it would be nice to convert all ICE vehicles to electric immediately, that is not the way the world works. It will, unfortunately, take many years to ramp up electric vehicle and battery production. Tesla itself is contracting to develop lithium resources in Nevada where they are apparently abundant (but not listed as part of the "proven reserves"). The ocean has about 230 billion tonnes o

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )
        I do know. There's a lot and it's very easy to get to:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
      • Uh nope. Multiple new mines have been opened and plenty around. In addition, lithium can be gotten from the ocean, but at a costs of around 15/kg. Of course, that is 15 initially. At some point price would drop.
    • by gnupun ( 752725 )

      Yeay! Because you know that $7-8/kg for lithium carbonate was really breaking the bank.

      So what you're saying is the $10,000 Tesla model S battery is a giant ripoff?

      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        It's mainly manufacturing/capital costs. The most expensive "raw ingredient" in the batteries BTW is not lithium but cobalt. Which nobody ever mentions because it's not in the name of the batteries - you'd have people freaking out about "peak cobalt" if we had called them "cobalt cathode" batteries instead of "lithium ion".

  • by Anonymous Coward

    But not in 18650 format. We have 25kwh of aqueous sodium ion batteries (5000 full cycles and still counting) giving us solar energy at night. Because of the lower voltage per cell, they use a safe sodium salt water electrolyte. G**gle aquion pittsburgh..

    • No simple download of spec sheets without giving them my life history and medical records? No sale. Sorry, Aquion.

      • Looks like they'll settle for an email address and a bunch of fake info ;-) but yeah it's odd that they don't give out the information freely...

    • by rch7 ( 4086979 )

      If you google for aquion price, 2.6kWh costs $1200, which means $461/kWh. Or 30.6 kWh for $15,000. As usually, if price is not disclosed, it means it is for people who don't care about price :(

  • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Monday November 30, 2015 @06:41PM (#51030079) Journal

    I knew that power tools and laptops used 18650 cells, which are slightly larger than AA batteries. Given the hype about "Tesla's advanced battery technology", I'm pretty surprised to learn the Tesla battery is also simply 7,000 flashlight batteries.

    I see that the Tesla battery pack weighs 1,200 pounds. Reducing weight greatly improves efficiency, handling, braking, and acceleration, meaning lighter weight is all around better. It seems a bit wasteful of weight and materials to have 7,000 metal casings around 7,000 tiny batteries, connected with thousands of connections, rather far fewer larger cells. I'm surprised they don't use perhaps 24 or 100 larger cells instead, thereby eliminating thousands of unnecessary casings and connections.

    • Shooting in the dark here - do the individual batteries make the larger pack more serviceable / recyclable? Packing the lithium into larger solid cells may also create problems with cooling / leak containment, etc. I'm sure there's more than a couple of whitepapers on the the topic out there.

    • by TheGavster ( 774657 ) on Monday November 30, 2015 @06:58PM (#51030189) Homepage

      The idea on many small battery cells is that the standard size makes them available from multiple suppliers, reducing risk, and the gaps between the cells due to the packing fraction provide a conduit for cooling.

      Telsa does have a lifecycle plan to refurbish packs from cars for use in the home; at least in the press photos, the home packs are a different form factor, so I wonder if they break up the packs to cull outright broken cells and then reconstitute the good ones into wall units. Since the breakdown is a function of electrode area, having the area in smaller pieces might help with reuse.

      • Tesla's system is like a two level RAID array for batteries. The car can work around weak cells and failing modules with software and targeted replacement (a RAID6+ of modules employing RAID6+ with the cells). One monolithic battery or even a small number of them would not have the same flexibility or replacebility. Also Tesla's business goals would have them buying a vast fraction of the battery production in short order. It made sense to start with the most widely manufactured 18650 cell. Now that th

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 30, 2015 @06:59PM (#51030195)

      If you want an actual answer instead of just an excuse to bag on Tesla ... Smaller cells have more surface area to dump heat, which is crucial when recharging. In other words, the mass of the casing (which is not large) is actively being used for thermal management. Additionally, in the manufacturing process, smaller cells have a lower reject rate and allow both a much more repairable battery pack than custom cells and improve the performance as cells degrade. The packing density for these cells is pretty good, (85%) and smaller cells allows tailoring to custom shapes, though Tesla doesn't take advantage of that, having roughly rectangular packs.

    • The "many small batteries" approach is what makes it possible to get a decent charge in a Tesla in around 20 minutes... instead of 80+ hours.

      If you charge 7,000 small batteries in parallel you'll do it roughly 1000 times faster than charging seven huge batteries with the same total capacity.

      • If that's true then the people at Tesla are being stupid. They should use 50 thousands rechargeable CR32 batteries!

      • Re:Yes, exactly. (Score:5, Informative)

        by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot @ w o r f .net> on Monday November 30, 2015 @07:21PM (#51030321)

        The "many small batteries" approach is what makes it possible to get a decent charge in a Tesla in around 20 minutes... instead of 80+ hours.

        If you charge 7,000 small batteries in parallel you'll do it roughly 1000 times faster than charging seven huge batteries with the same total capacity.

        More importantly, the 7000 little batteries actually make the system more efficient than 7 large ones. Because of the massive amount of power the motors have (50+ kW), using more cells in series means higher voltages. And higher voltages means lowered currents which mean less wasted power in IIR losses. Double the voltage, halve the current, one-quarter the loss. It's why transmission lines are high voltage, why data centers usually get 208V or higher (besides three-phase) at the racks, etc.

        7 lithium batteries only gets you 28V. If we use 56kW, that's nearly 2000A you have to draw - you probably will have to use the chassis split down the middle to carry that kind of current. 7000 lithium batteries as 7x1000 (4000V) series packs means drawing 14A from each pack, or 98A total. Of course, no one runs that high a pack voltage - safety reasons - it's usually closer to 480V or so, which is a large current but still manageable.

        • You COULD use 7,000 cells at 3.7 volts each in series to get 25,800 volts. As you know, they run at 480V or so - the voltage of 120V lithium ion cells, as I originally said. So no, that's NOT a reason to use hundreds of little batteries rather than 100 much larger ones.

          GP is also wrong, the maximum charge rate of lithium ion (in amps) is approximately equal to the capacity of the cell in amp-hours. That is to say, you can charge a lithium ion cell in an hour (plus safety factor) no matter what size it is

          • by aXis100 ( 690904 )

            The charging comment is only true up to a point. As you get larger solid packs, the surface area doesn't increase as fast as the volume and the insides can get very hot. Thermal management is super critical for many battery types so this is a major limitation.

            With a small cylindrical battery, the empty packing space between the cells provides a perfect channel for cooling.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          For comparison a Nissan Leaf has an 80kW motor, with the maximum draw on the batteries being about 90kW when you include all the accessories (heating, lighting etc.) The battery is 24kWh, or 30kWh in the new model.

          A 90kW motor is said to be equivalent to a 130HP petrol engine, but I find it's actually a fair bit quicker off the mark due to the instant torque right from zero. The car actually has to hold back to stop the wheels spinning - even if you disable traction control, it will only give you about 60-7

      • That's simply not true at all. The maximum charge rate of any lithium ion cell, large or small, is about one hour to fully charge (plus a safety factor) . Two 50,00ma cells take exactly the same amount of time to charge as one 10,000ma cell.

    • by mspohr ( 589790 )

      Tesla chose the 18650 battery since they were light (power/weight) and cheap and they could get them in large quantities. They designed the battery pack to sit low under the passenger compartment. This gives the car a very low center of gravity and amazing handling. The battery case is very thin with small mass and the large number of small batteries allows for a liquid temperature management system which is crucial for long life and performance.

    • I see that the Tesla battery pack weighs 1,200 pounds. Reducing weight greatly improves efficiency, handling, braking, and acceleration, meaning lighter weight is all around better. It seems a bit wasteful of weight and materials to have 7,000 metal casings around 7,000 tiny batteries, connected with thousands of connections, rather far fewer larger cells. I'm surprised they don't use perhaps 24 or 100 larger cells instead, thereby eliminating thousands of unnecessary casings and connections.

      There are a num

    • Larger cells mean inability to control the heat which is what really destroys the cells. In addition, with high parallelism, they are able to deliver a great deal more amps as well as charge much faster. IOW, the use of massive cells was an intelligent choice, not one forced on them. In addition, the wrappers are not the same as what goes into your laptop.
  • by myrdos2 ( 989497 ) on Monday November 30, 2015 @06:42PM (#51030085)

    The most important details: The energy density performance (90Wh/kg) are above the expectations especially considering the excellent cycle life (at least 2.000 charge/discharge cycles). It would also be nice to see voltage drop-off as the battery discharges and expected price, but now I'm getting greedy...

    • Price will be at a disadvantage until production has scaled up. Personally, I like having a more linear voltage dropoff with discharge - you can always switch the voltage up to whatever you need, and if you are discharging near capability limits - unless this is a drag cycle, you are going to have disappointing time to full discharge.

    • Typical lithium 18650's have energy densities of 200-230 Wh/kg. This battery is less than half as good. Let's see if they can improve it but this is a non-starter for now. Regular Panasonic 18650 specs: http://industrial.panasonic.co... [panasonic.com]

  • I've been hearing a lot lately about this super battery, and that super battery, but I don't see my quadcopter flying any longer than before.
  • by HannethCom ( 585323 ) on Monday November 30, 2015 @07:30PM (#51030371)
    When I first started looking at standard AA batteries in about 1994 you had your normal Zink-carbon batteries that the good ones would be 1200mAh capacity. There were some premium Alkaline batteries that were 2000mAh. If you wanted rechargeable you were looking at NiCd at about 800mAh.

    Fast forward to about 2004. Alkaline batteries at about 2000mAh was standard. Lithium batteries at 3000mAh were around and NiMH had almost completely replaced NiCd at about 2100mAh for good quality ones. Then there is also the proliferation of Li-Ion batteries for other applications. Charge times for rechargeable batteries had come way down.

    Today Alkaline batteries are at about 2600mAh, with Lithium still at 3000mAh. NiMH are still in use and the good ones are still at 2100mAh with some "Pro" batteries at 2550mAh. Li-Ion still in great use, but getting smaller while keeping the same amount of power. Charging times have continued to decrease, mostly with new charging technology that can be used on the older batteries as well.

    What does the future hold? Well, we have heard about tech for making Li-Ion batteries fully charge in minutes. There is the improvement in sodium batteries. Different chemical combinations of Li-Ion to hold more power.

    Why is it not here now? Most new technology takes at least 5 years from announcement of it working, to being able to mass produce it at a decent cost. That is for companies that have lots of money and experience in that specific field. More of an average is 10 years between proof of concept and mass production. 10 years may sound like a long time to people, but in the manufacturing world with new technology, it really isn't that long. Intel runs with a 10 year plan, and they can bring many of their advancements to market in 5 years. Intel is a company with a lot of money and a lot of knowledge about exactly what they do and yet, they still work on basically 10 year plans. Most companies are not as efficient.

    Yes many times products will be designed and brought to market in 1 to 2 years, but they usually use existing technology. They use chips, tech, batteries that exist when the product is announced. They already have the full design done, all they need to do is mass produce them, and it still takes 1-2 years. Even though exactly how to mass produce it and all the parts are known. New technology on the other hand is a different beast that there are often problems in figuring out how to mass produce it, or they find out that it can't be mass produced cheaply enough.

    The other thing is that you are getting the new technology all the time, you just don't notice it because it is done in an incremental process. The battery has a little more power, it is a little smaller, it charges a little faster. Where if you compare something today to 10 years ago you would notice that the battery stores a lot more power, it is a lot smaller and it charges a lot faster.
  • ...about sodium! So we'lll just have to reach them through the rock-n-roll music that the kids seem to like. [youtube.com]

  • It sounds like a precarious business model. Everyone prefers lithium batteries. So long as lithium prices are high enough, you can find a market for cheaper inferior batteries. But high lithium prices will lead to higher lithium production and prices likely coming back down. In building a sodium battery plant, you're gambling on lithium price being sufficiently high most of the time for several decades into the future.

    The picture changes if you can make the sodium batteries as good as lithium for at least s

    • by Guspaz ( 556486 )

      Well, an 18650 cell has maybe half a cent worth of lithium in it, so... do you really think that switching to a cheaper metal is going to make much of a difference?

      Sodium batteries aren't going to see any adoption unless they have some technical superiority over lithium ion.

    • > The picture changes if you can make the sodium batteries as good as lithium

      That's just it, you can't. Sodium just doesn't work the same way.

      You can "get around" this if you move to using air as one of the reactants, but this version is sealed so that's out.

  • Isn't sodium really toxic (not good when exposed to air) and explodes on contact with water (youtube.com has plenty of examples of this)? I wonder how long it would be before a lawyer sues the battery makers after someone opens a battery somewhere near water? Maybe they have taken this into account with the battery design?

    • by clovis ( 4684 )

      Isn't sodium really toxic (not good when exposed to air) and explodes on contact with water (youtube.com has plenty of examples of this)? I wonder how long it would be before a lawyer sues the battery makers after someone opens a battery somewhere near water? Maybe they have taken this into account with the battery design?

      Does not matter because they aren't using sodium metal, they're using a sodium compound.

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