Future EV Batteries Could Charge in Seconds — Is This the End of Gas Pumps?

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In the last decade, electric vehicles (EVs) have gained traction due to their high efficiency in reducing carbon emissions. However, the EV market has been on shaky legs recently, as evidenced by the losses reported during Tesla’s recent Q1 2024 earnings call.

Slow charging time, high cost, battery lifecycle, and battery capacity are some of the major concerns in current EV developments.

According to the US Department of Energy, EV charging at paid DC fast charging stations averages 42 minutes per session, and it’s not something that everyday car commuters desire.

But a breakthrough in EV battery technology might be underway, with sodium-ion hybrid energy storage (SIHES) cells being touted as a potential groundbreaking technology.

Researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) claim their sodium-based battery can bring fast-rechargeable power density to larger batteries — becoming a major win for the future of the EV industry. While still hot from the labs, reports already suggest this new Sodium-based EV battery type could hit the market and EV manufacturing plants soon.

Techopedia explores the technology behind this sodium-ion battery, how it works, and how it may potentially hasten the end of gas pumps.


Key Takeaways

  • Despite the increasing popularity of electric vehicles (EVs) for their reduced carbon emissions, concerns such as slow charging times, high costs, and battery lifespan persist, impacting market stability.
  • Researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have developed sodium-based batteries that promise fast recharge rates and high energy density.
  • The new sodium-ion hybrid energy storage system boasts ultra-high energy density and rapid rechargeability, surpassing the capabilities of commercial lithium-ion batteries.
  • Sodium is abundant, cheaper, and environmentally friendlier than lithium, offering a sustainable alternative for EV battery materials.
  • The technology could pave the way for EVs with shorter charging times and longer ranges.

Sodium-ion Batteries & the Role of Supercapacitors

Sodium-ion batteries have been around for a while now, but they are hindered by their poor rechargeability due to low power density, even though they provide relatively high energy density.

A technology developed by researchers at KAIST and first published in the journal Energy Storage Materials solved this problem by combining the anode materials, particularly ultrafine iron sulfide particles embedded in sulfur-doped carbon and graphene, with the cathodes (zeolitic imidazolate framework) from supercapacitor batteries.

The result is an ultra-high-energy density and fast-rechargeable sodium-ion hybrid energy storage system.

The new batteries, according to the KAIST researchers, will exhibit the characteristics of supercapacitors’ power density and also surpass the energy density of commercial lithium-ion batteries.

Energy storage capacity can reach 247 watts per kilogram and deliver power at a rate of up to 34,748 watts per kilogram.

Professor Kang Jeong-gu from the research team said: “This hybrid sodium-ion energy storage device marks a significant leap forward, overcoming the limitations of current storage solutions.

“It heralds a new era where rapid charging becomes a reality for all electronic devices, including electric vehicles.”

New Sodium-ion Hybrid Batteries Might Replace the Lithium-ion Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries have been the backbone of EV battery technology for at least the past decade.

However, their availability is very limited, with China and Argentina dominating the global market for lithium. As the demand for EVs increases, so does the pressure on lithium and other rare elements used in lithium-ion batteries. This poses a danger to the future of EV technology.

Sodium, on the other hand, is a more abundant, cheaper, and environmentally conservative alternative to lithium in EV battery technology.

Once assembled, the new sodium-ion hybrid batteries could exceed the performance of lithium-ion batteries by up to 100 times. Since they can charge very quickly, they can be ideal alternatives for lithium-ion batteries used in EVs, which take several minutes or hours for a full charge.

One major performance challenge to sodium-ion hybrid battery technology is weight. Sodium is heavier than lithium with an atomic weight 3.3 times more massive than lithium. While this won’t be an impossible challenge for its application in EVs, there might be some issues in other fields, including laptop and mobile phone developments.

Northvolt, a Swedish battery firm, is joining with Chinese EV car maker BYD to specifically solve problems relating to sodium-ion battery mobile applications.

Could Sodium-ion Hybrid EV Batteries Bring an End to Gas Pumps?

With eco conservation now a global priority and continuous innovations in the energy sector moving away from fossil fuels, it is only a short time before EV batteries challenge gas pumps.

The time might even be closer with recent innovations by KAIST suggesting that EV cars have the chance to rapidly reduce their charge time.

If this rapid charging is finally incorporated into the majority of EV car technologies, then it is poised to be a big challenger to gasoline cars.

To get a clearer understanding of how sustainable this new technology is, here is how the sodium-ion hybrid energy EV batteries compare to gasoline fuel.

Sodium-ion hybrid EV battery Gasoline
Efficiency  100 % Coulombic efficiency over 5,000 charge-discharge cycles Thermal efficiency is usually between 30% and 40%, while some fuel might reach 50%.
Environmental Impact  Has lower toxic and hazardous material contents Contributes heavily to air pollution
Cost Costs around $0.05 per mile to charge EV Cost about $0.13 to fuel gas-powered car per mile
Range and Refueling Time  Can cover between 150 to 300 miles per charge; can charge up in seconds 1 gallon of gasoline can cover up to 35 miles; fuel tank takes several minutes to get full
Safety  Relatively clean and safe to use Can be volatile and toxic to the environment
Lifecycle  Battery can sustain up to 5000 charge cycles or 750,000 to 1,000,000 miles before degradation Gasoline engines can sustain up to 200,000 miles before degradation

The Bottom Line

While widespread adoption of EV cars has been delayed over the years due to their inferior convenience to gasoline-powered vehicles, innovations today suggest that future EV cars can be charged in seconds, drastically reducing the edge gasoline cars have over EVs.

Sodium is more abundant than lithium, and its availability means that the raw material cost for sodium-ion-based batteries will be less compared to lithium and other rare elements associated with battery production.

Energy density, power density, and lifecycle are some of the factors that future EV batteries will capitalize on to compete with gasoline engines.

While battery technology often appears to move slowly compared to the rest of the tech industry, experts suggest that the time could be near.

Most countries are already transitioning to cleaner energy through active decarbonization initiatives and awareness, and a breakthrough in EV battery technology might be the spark that will ignite the massive adoption of EV cars by most commuters.

Only time will tell since this breakthrough is still in its formative stage.


What are the major advantages of sodium over lithium for EV battery materials?

How will the increased weight of sodium versus lithium impact the driving range and efficiency of EVs use these new batteries?

What infrastructure or charging station changes may be required to support rapid seconds-long charging times?


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Franklin Okeke
Technology Journalist
Franklin Okeke
Technology Journalist

Franklin Okeke is an author and tech journalist with over seven years of IT experience. Coming from a software development background, his writing spans cybersecurity, AI, cloud computing, IoT, and software development. In addition to pursuing a Master's degree in Cybersecurity & Human Factors from Bournemouth University, Franklin has two published books and four academic papers to his name. His writing has been featured in tech publications such as TechRepublic, The Register, Computing, TechInformed, Moonlock and other top technology publications. When he is not reading or writing, Franklin trains at a boxing gym and plays the piano.