Advanced sodium batteries with enhanced safety and low cost processing

Period of Performance: 01/01/2012 - 12/31/2012

$1.5MM

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Materials & Systems Research, Inc.
5395 West 700 South Array
Salt Lake City, UT 84104
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Abstract

Sodium beta-alumina batteries are one of the most promising large-scale electrical energy storage technologies due to their high energy density and excellent cycling capability. Despite many advantages, the sodium batteries have several barriers for successful commercialization, mainly related to safety issues and high capital investment for installation. The current battery cells typically operate at 350°C at which sodium and sulfur coexist in the liquid state, yielding high electrode reactivity. The safety issues are primarily related to crack or fracture of the ceramic electrolyte. Significant part of the high capital cost attributes to complicated and energy-intensive processing of the ceramic electrolyte and also thermal management which is required to maintain the cell temperature. Materials & Systems Research, Inc. (MSRI) proposes a novel cell design for advanced sodium batteries to overcome all these issues. The proposed cell design is based on thin film beta” alumina solid electrolyte (BASE) that will be made by a low-cost processing method. The design ensures greatly enhanced safety by using high-strength support materials. In addition, the proposed cell design also enables the sodium batteries working at reduced temperatures, thus reducing the cost burden on cell packaging and thermal management.