Energy & Green Tech

Better batteries for grid-scale energy storage

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have designed a new class of molten sodium batteries for grid-scale energy storage. The new battery design was shared in a paper published today in the scientific journal Cell Reports ...

Energy & Green Tech

Can sodium-ion batteries replace trusty lithium-ion ones?

Sodium-ion batteries are a potential replacement for lithium batteries, but the anodes—positively charged electrodes—that work well for lithium-ion batteries don't provide the same level of performance for sodium-ion ...

Energy & Green Tech

Researchers develop more efficient method to recover heavy oil

The current global supply of crude oil is expected to meet demand through 2050, but there may be a few more drops to squeeze out. By making use of a previously undesired side effect in oil recovery, researchers have developed ...

Engineering

Designing layered oxide materials for sodium-ion batteries

Lithium cobalt oxide is a layered metal oxide that has attracted great attention to develop rechargeable batteries. Sodium-ion batteries can store grid-scale energy due to the natural abundance of sodium. The composition ...

Energy & Green Tech

Making disorder for an ideal battery

The lithium batteries that power electronic devices and electric vehicles have a number of drawbacks. The electrolyte—the medium that enables electrons and positive charges to move between the electrodes—is a flammable ...

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Sodium

Sodium (pronounced /ˈsoʊdiəm/) is a metallic element with a symbol Na (from Latin natrium or Arabic natrun) and atomic number 11. It is a soft, silvery-white, highly reactive metal and is a member of the alkali metals within "group 1" (formerly known as ‘group IA’). It has only one stable isotope, 23Na.

Elemental sodium was first isolated by Sir Humphry Davy in 1806 by passing an electric current through molten sodium hydroxide. Elemental sodium does not occur naturally on Earth, but quickly oxidizes in air and is violently reactive with water, so it must be stored in an inert medium, such as a liquid hydrocarbon. The free metal is used for some chemical synthesis and heat transfer applications.

Sodium ion is soluble in water in nearly all of its compounds, and is thus present in great quantities in the Earth's oceans and other stagnant bodies of water. In these bodies it is mostly counterbalanced by the chloride ion, causing evaporated ocean water solids to consist mostly of sodium chloride, or common table salt. Sodium ion is also a component of many minerals.

Sodium is an essential element for all animal life and for some plant species. In animals, sodium ions are used in opposition to potassium ions, to allow the organism to build up an electrostatic charge on cell membranes, and thus allow transmission of nerve impulses when the charge is allowed to dissipate by a moving wave of voltage change. Sodium is thus classified as a “dietary inorganic macro-mineral” for animals. Sodium's relative rarity on land is due to its solubility in water, thus causing it to be leached into bodies of long-standing water by rainfall. Such is its relatively large requirement in animals, in contrast to its relative scarcity in many inland soils, that herbivorous land animals have developed a special taste receptor for sodium ion.

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