- Title: Energy from bogs: Estonian scientists use peat to make batteries
- Date: 11th October 2021
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (English) PROFESSOR OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY AT TARTU UNIVERSITY, ENN LUST, SAYING: "We need some very cheap devices to store huge quantities of electricity. And the only possibility is batteries, including lithium-ion and sodium-ion batteries. But the lithium-ion batteries are very expensive because the price of lithium is 30, or even 50 times more expensive than sodium."
- Embargoed: 25th October 2021 16:45
- Keywords: Estonia University of Tartu battery technology innovation lithium mining new technologies peat bogs
- Location: ELVA AND TARTU, ESTONIA / SALTA, ARGENTINA
- City: ELVA AND TARTU, ESTONIA / SALTA, ARGENTINA
- Country: Estonia
- Topics: Europe,Science
- Reuters ID: LVA003EYPTHRT
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Peat, plentiful in bogs in northern Europe, could be used to make sodium-ion batteries cheaply for use in electric vehicles, scientists at an Estonian university say.
Sodium-ion batteries, which do not contain relatively costly lithium, cobalt or nickel, are one of the new technologies that battery makers are looking at as they seek alternatives to the dominant lithium-ion model.
Scientists at Estonia's Tartu University say they have found a way to use peat in sodium-ion batteries, which reduces the overall cost, although the technology is still in its infancy.
The peat the researchers are using is very cheap, as it is not used for agriculture and as fuel, but does yield a good-quality carbon powder for batteries, says Enn Lust, head of the university's Institute of Chemistry.
The process includes heating decomposed peat to a high temperature in a furnace for 2-3 hours. The university expects the government to fund a small-scale factory in Estonia to try out the technology.
The carbon is used to make components in sodium-ion batteries, which Lust says are cheaper than ones using lithium because of the high price of and increasing demand for lithium.
Global demand for lithium last year was about 320,000 tonnes, and is expected to hit 1 million tonnes by 2025 and 3 million tonnes by the end of the decade.
With an increasing move worldwide to renewable energy and electric vehicles, "we need some very cheap devices to store huge quantities of electricity" Lust said.
However sodium-ion batteries using peat will need to prove they are commercially viable and can be scaled up, Lukasz Bednarski, a market analyst and the author of a book on batteries, told Reuters.
China's CATL in July became the first major automotive battery maker to unveil a sodium-ion battery.
(Production: Janis Laizans, Karolina Bohacova, Lewis Macdonald)
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