A team of early-career researchers from Deakin University have won a global business competition for developing sodium batteries use for the electrification of low-cost transport, including scooters, buses and auto-rickshaws in Indonesia.
The ElevenStore team, based at Deakin University’s Institute for Frontier Materials, was one of two Australian teams selected to compete in the finals of the ClimateLaunchpad 2020 competition, gaining acceptance to the EIT Climate-KIC Accelerator to develop their battery system, as well as taking out the competition’s Theme Award for Sustainable mobility.
The team developed a low cost sodium battery technology, that seeks to compete as a low cost alternative to lithium batteries, using a material that is abundant and helps reduce the need for more toxic materials. The team said they would use the €5,000 prize (A$8,180), and participation in the accelerator program, to help progress their business plans.
The all-women team from ElevenStore is made up of early-career researchers, including PhD student Karolina Biernacka and the Institute for Frontier Materials’ Dr Faezeh Makhlooghi Azad, Dr Jenny Sun and Dr Vahide Ghanooni Ahmadabadi.
The team utilised a ‘cutting-edge’ sodium battery technology that had been developed by researchers at Deakin University. Sodium can be used in the production of batteries, playing a similar role to that of lithium.
Sodium is a highly abundant material, and has the potential to be sourced at a significantly lower price to lithium, but has some trade-offs with respect to the density of energy storage.
The team sought to use the innovation in the production of batteries for transport systems in Indonesia, seeing the battery research developed at Deakin University used to enable electric transport and reduce emissions into emerging markets, including Indonesia.
“We are all passionate about clean energy and want to have a positive impact on the environment,” Biernacka said.
“Our proposed sodium battery technology is composed of safe, sustainable, environmentally-friendly, earth-abundant and cheap raw materials. By employing the electrolyte technology developed at Deakin, it can also outperform traditional rechargeable batteries in terms of safety, cost and exceptional thermal stability.”
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