Most electronic gadgets, be it your cell phone or laptop, rely on lithium ion batteries as a power source. However, in Japan, where most electronic gadgets are manufactured, rely on imports for the supply of lithium, which is a rare earth metal. To solve the problems and hence make batteries far more affordable, a team of researchers at the Tokyo University of Science have come up with sodium ion batteries where the anode is made using hard carbon obtained by pyrolyzing sucrose, the main constituent of sugar.
Unlike lithium, the supply of sodium is unlimited and sodium ion batteries can be made using relatively affordable and readily available materials such as iron, aluminum and sodium. Moreover, the battery capacity can be increased by using carbon made from sugar as the anode. Hard carbon is very easy to manufacture by heating sucrose to 1000-1500 degrees Celsius in the stream of an inert atmosphere such as argon or nitrogen. This way sucrose doesn’t burn but is transformed into black hard carbon powder. The team has achieved a storage capacity of 300mAh, which is 20 percent more than conventional hard carbon.