Lithium-ion batteries have become the preferred choice in a wide range of applications in recent years, and it’s easy to see why: they are versatile, deliver high energy density and low self-discharge, are less than half that of nickel batteries, and require minimal maintenance.
However, they have their limits: problems during transport are notoriously documented, and they are also subject to aging, even if not used, in addition to the fact that a protection circuit is required to keep the voltage and current within safe limits.
However, the search for the “perfect” battery solution continues to be debated, focusing on sodium ion-based products.
Experiments with sodium-ion and lithium-ion-based batteries continued at full speed between 1970 and 1980, and attention returned to lithium from that point of view. However, the last decade has seen renewed interest in sodium-ion batteries. While they do not provide the same energy density as lithium ion RV batteries, there are substantial advantages in terms of safety and costs, being much greater than those of sodium-ion batteries and being able to operate at a longer range. Ample of temperatures.
Sodium ions are larger than lithium ions, which means that the energy density of the batteries containing them is naturally lower, which makes sodium ions more suitable for more static applications where battery size is less important. Applications for sodium-ion batteries are very varied and include residential and industrial storage, telecommunications, and emergency support for supply and storage in remote applications and locations, including offshore. Another possible application is related to mobility.
Sodium ions have similar interlayer chemistry (charge) to lithium ions, meaning many of the materials tested for sodium batteries are similar to those used for lithium. However, graphite cannot be used as the anode in sodium-ion batteries since it is not energetically convenient to introduce sodium between the individual layers. Some companies use rigid carbon anodes with a NaPF6 electrolyte.
The most often seen design for sodium-ion batteries is similar to the more common lithium counterpart: a sodium oxide cathode, a carbon-based anode, and a non-aqueous solvent electrolyte. The manufacturing processes are also similar, meaning that any company that produces lithium batteries can easily convert to sodium-ion technology.
Performance isn’t a problem, either. In June this year, it was announced that a particular solution was developed by a team from Washington State University (WSU) and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), which has been able to carry a capacity similar to that of some batteries. Ion batteries and recharge them successfully, keeping more than 80% of their charge after 1,000 cycles.
Several companies have identified the potential of sodium ion batteries and are committed to developing this area, including Faradion, Tiamat, Aquion Energy, Novasis, Nitron, and Altris.
Each battery, of course, is as effective as it can be recharged quickly and safely. During the charging of the sodium ion batteries, the positive sodium ions are extracted from the cathode and transferred to the anode while the electrons pass through the external circuit. For the discharge, the process is reversed.
The positives are the charging time comparable to that of alternative batteries. There is no need for special charging equipment, which means that depending on the application, a switch to products can be made. Sodium ion without high costs or other issues in this area.
How to best manage your car battery during this period?
The starter batteries, i.e., those installed on all our cars to allow the engine to be switched on and the electrical system to stabilize while driving, are affected by prolonged parking periods as they are subject to a minimum constant absorption due to multiple electrical applications. And electronics installed on our cars (anti-theft, electrical control units, GPS detectors, or other devices).
Short stops usually do not cause battery problems, as discharge would be partial. Of course, as long as the ambient temperature is between 5 and 30 ° C, the ignition is off, and the alternator had fully recharged the battery before the car was parked.
However, if the car’s downtime were to last beyond 10-15 days, as it could happen in this period, problems likely arise that could lead us to think that the battery is damaged.
To prevent this from happening, we suggest some possible solutions:
- Keep the car switched on for at least 20 minutes or drive 15/20 km once a week to keep the battery always charged. If you cannot, we advise you to ask a friend or neighbor for a favor (we always encourage collaboration and teamwork!)
- Only if the car is NOT equipped with Start & Stop systems physically disconnect the battery connectors from the vehicle’s electrical system: this guarantees a reduction in electrical absorption to zero.
- Suppose an anti-theft device or other devices that require continuous energy are active and unable to disconnect the battery. In that case, we recommend using a charging maintainer to help the battery maintain an optimal voltage.
The problem of self-discharging of the batteries also occurs on new or recently installed products, so if you receive warranty requests for products purchased a short time ago, before assuming that the product is replaceable by your customers, carry out a proper test. You need to use a dedicated trickle charger for car battery, only after recharging the battery as, in most cases, these WILL NOT BE DEFECTIVE but discharged, and after recharging, they will work perfectly again!