A French group called RS2E, described as a "network bringing together researchers and industrial actors" that focuses on energy research like batteries, revealed a prototype sodium-ion battery produced in a common format used within portable computers. Traditionally, lithium-ion batteries fill this role, but the scarcity of lithium means that more and more folks are looking to a future filled with sodium-based batteries, among other alternatives.
More specifically, the group created a sodium-ion battery in the 18560 format, which is a fairly common one when it comes to lithium-ion batteries. Though the picture above doesn't do it justice, the cylindrical battery clocks in at the typical height of 6.5 centimeters and width of 1.8 centimeters — or about 2.67 inches by 0.71 inches. According to CNRS, they're used in just about everything from portable computers to Tesla electric vehicles.
Exactly how the group managed to achieve this feat is apparently a trade secret, though there have been a few stats released on how it performs. For example, in terms of energy density, it weighs in at 90 watt-hours per kilogram, which is reportedly "comparable to certain lithium-ion batteries, such as the Li-ion iron/phosphate battery," according to Loïc Simonin, a researcher associated with the development of the prototype battery. Additionally, it lasts over 2,000 charge-discharge cycles, which is not too shabby.
Obviously, the group wants to continue to improve upon this. The growing appeal of electric vehicles among other electronics using lithium-ion batteries has only spurred the continued search for better batteries. Sodium-ion batteries are an avenue that's been under consideration for decades, though most efforts haven't been quite up to par to their lithium-ion cousins. At this point, however, it just makes too much sense to revisit old ideas with a new lens. The 18560 battery is just a start, but it's a mighty fine one at that.