Matériaux & Techniques
Volume 107, Number 5, 2019
Materials and Society: The Circular Economy (SAM13)
|Number of page(s)
|09 January 2020
A review of hard carbon anode materials for sodium-ion batteries and their environmental assessment
Helmholtz Institute Ulm (HIU), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT),
2 ITAS, Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany
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Accepted: 5 November 2019
Sodium-ion batteries are increasingly being promoted as a promising alternative to current lithium-ion batteries. The substitution of lithium by sodium offers potential advantages under environmental aspects due to its higher abundance and availability. However, sodium-ion (Na-ion) batteries cannot rely on graphite for the anodes, requiring amorphous carbon materials (hard carbons). Since no established market exists for hard carbon anode materials, these are synthesised individually for each Na-ion battery from selected precursors. The hard carbon anode has been identified as a relevant driver for environmental impacts of sodium-ion batteries in a recent work, where a significant improvement potential was found by minimising the impacts of the hard carbon synthesis process. In consequence, this work provides a detailed process model of hard carbon synthesis processes as basis for their environmental assessment. Starting from a review of recent studies about hard carbon synthesis processes from different precursors, three promising materials are evaluated in detail. For those, the given laboratory synthesis processes are scaled up to a hypothetical industrial level, obtaining detailed energy and material balances. The subsequent environmental assessment then quantifies the potential environmental impacts of the different hard carbon materials and their potential for further improving the environmental performance of future Na-ion batteries by properly selecting the hard carbon material. Especially organic waste materials (apple pomace) show a high potential as precursor for hard carbon materials, potentially reducing environmental impacts of Na-ion cells between 10 and 40% compared to carbohydrate (sugar) based hard carbons (the hard carbon material used by the current reference work). Waste tyres are also found to be a promising hard carbon precursor, but require a more complex pre-treatment prior to carbonisation, why they do not reach the same performance as the pomace based one. Finally, hard carbons obtained from synthetic resins, another promising precursor, score significantly worse. They obtain results in the same order of magnitude as the sugar based hard carbon, mainly due to the high emissions and energy intensity of the resin production processes.
Key words: sodium ion battery / process modelling / pyrolysis / life cycle assessment / anode material / hard carbon / environmental impact
© SCF, 2020
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