Sugar May be the Key to Cheaper, Better Batteries

gringer/CC BY-SA 2.0

There has been plenty of talk about just how bad sugar is for us in the health community, but turns out, it could be beneficial for us in our electronics.

Researchers at the Tokyo University of Science have found that sugar might be the key to better, cheaper rechargeable batteries. Lithium-ion batteries may be the battery of choice right now for electric cars and gadgets, but the increasing complexity of getting access to lithium from reserves in countries like China and Bolivia have pushed Japanese researchers to look for alternatives.

One battery technology that could potentially un-seat lithium-ion is sodium-ion. It promises to be more durable and cheaper to manufacture, but so far the nascent technology's performance lags behind lithium-ion. That's where the Tokyo University researchers have concentrated their energy.

DigInfo.tv/Video screen capture

After trying different materials in a quest to improve sodium-ion batteries, the researchers found that sucrose makes a cheap and effective material for the anode of a sodium-ion battery.

Gizmag reports, "The team heated sucrose to temperatures of up to 1,500 °C (2,700 °F) in a controlled oxygen-free atmosphere, a process known as pyrolysis. The result is a hard carbon powder that, when embedded in a sodium-ion battery, can achieve a storage capacity of 300mAh, 20% higher than conventional hard carbon."

The researchers think that the results are so promising that a commercial-level sodium-ion battery using sucrose could be ready within five years.

Check out the video below to watch to researchers explain this discovery.

Tags: Batteries | Technology

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