New research has confirmed that tin can protect lithium and sodium electrodes and prevent them from breaking down in use, bringing closer a breakthrough to a completely new generation of high energy lithium and sodium-ion batteries.

This type of electrode is theoretically ideal and offers a quantum leap in charge capacity from today’s much more limited graphite technology but until now their high reactivity has been a problem. During energy cycling they quickly breakdown and form new crystal structures that block the charge transfer. Scientists at Cornell Energy Systems Institute, US have shown that adding tin increases lithium battery life from 55 hours to more than 500 hours and sodium battery life from 10 hours to more than 1,700 hours. The tin is easily added and forms a protective layer stabilising the reactive metals, as well as itself contributing to energy storage.

The team is now optimising the design for large-scale tests.

Cornell University website article, April 2018

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