I have been awaiting a powerful and energy-dense alternative to lithium-ion batteries primarily because it is important there are more energy storage options available, especially if they are built with cheaper and more abundant materials such as sodium, unlike li-ion batteries.
It looks like GE may have the answer.
General Electric (GE) unveiled its Durathon battery system for electric buses, which consists of both sodium batteries and lithium-ion batteries.
The Durathon sodium batteries provide a high energy density and help to lower the cost of the bus, while the lithium-ion batteries provide the power.
People may misinterpret the scarcity of elemental lithium, but that is not where we get our lithium — it isn’t necessary. Lithium is obtained from much more abundant non-elemental lithium compounds such as lithium carbonate, lithium chloride, and other compounds as well.
Range is a concern for electric vehicles in general, but considering that bus routes are normally set in stone — with the majority of transit buses on American roads travelling less than 100 miles in a day — implementing alternative energy solutions is a natural extension.
GE says that thousands of its Durathon batteries will be shipped from its Schenectady, New York business this year to telecommunications businesses in South East Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
In those areas many cell sites are powered by diesel-generators which are costly to operate due to the high cost of diesel fuel. Solar energy could also be used to charge the batteries.