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Born in Jules’ Verne mind: sodium-ion batteries

It’s a coincidence as we see little. 150 years ago, a crazy seaman imagined in his submarine the concept of a sodium battery. "Mixed with mercury it forms an amalgam that can take the place of zinc in Bunsen cells. The mercury is never used up. Only the sodium is consumed, and the sea itself gives me that. Beyond this, I’ll mention that sodium batteries have been found to generate the greater energy, and their electro-motor strength is twice that of zinc batteries". From Jules Verne to the present days, the loop is now complete.

The dream became a reality thanks to the collaboration of several French teams, including one from Amiens. In 2012, Jean-Marie Tarascon proposes to the research network he just created the realization of this old dream. Six French laboratories as well as CEA took up the challenge. In just six months the first prototype was produced and a year later its performance (with plenty of room for improvement) are the best in the world in its class.

The Laboratoire de Réactivité et de Chimie des Solides (UPJV/CNRS) participated in this human and scientific adventure. Christian MASQUELIER and his colleague at ICMCB (Bordeaux), Laurence CROGUENNEC, proposed the positive electrode material, Renald DAVID, research engineer, works with them to improve the material, Gregory Gachot sees to the battery’s health and its electrolyte, all with the support of Mathieu MORCRETTE, director of LRCS.

Another happy coincidence, while COP21 is currently taking place in Paris, the sodium-ion battery invented by the researchers is a very good solution for the storage of renewable energy.

The new baby has not been named yet but is doing well with a 90 Wh/kg energy density, a lifetime that is over 2000 charge/discharge cycles and an ability to deliver its energy very quickly! Many improvements are underway, with the desire not to make Jules Verne wait any longer before its use in demonstrators.

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