Could Table Salt & Biomass Supercharge Next-Gen EV Batteries?

New research finds that sodium-ion batteries has a better mineral resource impact than lithium-ion batteries

Sat 16 Dec 23


Table salt and forest biomass could hold the key to meeting global demand for renewable energy. 

Together, the materials create sodium-ion batteries, which Swedish researchers now claim provide “better mineral resource impact” than lithium-ion batteries – given the shortages of lithium and cobalt.

“The materials we use in the future batteries will be important to switch to renewable energy and a fossil-free vehicle fleet,” according to Rickard Arvidsson of Chalmers University of Technology, the lead author of a new study into the technology.

Fossil Fuels have dominated the news cycle, with global leaders debating its phase-out as part of COP28 discussions. As part of its Green Deal, the EU has committed to using battery technology, which is “increasing at a rapid pace” to become the world’s first climate-neutral continent.

Under the European Commission’s Critical Raw Materials Act, demand for critical raw battery materials will increase as European countries transition to renewable energy systems and electric vehicles. 

Published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology, “Prospective life cycle assessment of sodium-ion batteries made from abundant elements“, the report supports the use of sodium-ion batteries thanks to “the abundance of forest biomass found all over the world.”

The study, funded by the Swedish Energy Agency’s Battery Fund Program, claims that the “Local production of batteries and other new fossil-free technologies, and a steady supply of raw materials is needed to meet demand.”

Associate Professor Arvidsson, along with co-authors Sanna Wickerts, Anders Nordelöf, Magdalena Svanström and Patrik Johansson, said, “The increased demand for lithium and cobalt (a limited raw material) could be an obstacle” to achieving the renewable energy transition.”

“Sodium-ion batteries also provide an alternative to accelerate the transition to a fossil-free society.”

The researchers assessed the batteries’ life cycle and examined their total environmental and resource impact during raw material extraction and manufacturing.

“We concluded that sodium-ion batteries are much better than lithium-ion batteries in terms of impact on mineral resource scarcity and equivalent in climate impact,” Associate Professor Arvidsson said.

“Depending on which scenario you look at, they end up at 60 and just over 100 kilogrammes of carbon dioxide equivalents per kilowatt hour theoretical electricity storage capacity, lower than previously reported for this type of sodium-ion battery. It’s a promising technology.”

One electrode in the batteries – the cathode – has sodium ions as a charge carrier, and the other electrode – the anode – has hard carbon, which the researchers said can be produced from woody biomass.


  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


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