Lithium-ion batteries are the most common technology powering modern devices. But lithium itself is a rare metal that's hard to come by, so countries that have to import it are developing alternatives. In Japan, researchers have discovered a way to make a sodium-ion battery that can be made with plain old sugar.
But we're not talking sugar straight out of the paper packet. Before it can be used as the anode in a sodium-ion battery, sucrose powder is turned into hard carbon powder by heating it to up to 1500C in an oxygen-free oven. In reality, there are many raw materials that can be turned into carbon in a similar fashion, but the advantage to using sugar is that it's practically an unlimited resource. Creating batteries from materials that are easily to replenish lowers the cost of manufacturing, and in turn the cost of devices.
Furthermore, the researchers have found that these new source materials actually result in batteries with greater capacities. One day, your smartphone may last longer with this sweet and salty approach. [DigInfo TV]