High-priced lithium has become a hot promoter of sodium-ion battery



"The direct reason for the popularity of sodium-ion batteries is that the price of lithium resources has soared." Some industry professionals pointed out that the anxiety of the new energy vehicle industry chain about the price of raw materials is still spreading. At a time when lithium is in trouble, the development momentum of sodium-ion batteries is getting stronger and stronger, and mass production is coming, but it is more suitable for the energy storage market. If you want to learn detailed information about energy storage, please read the article Top 10 energy storage lithium battery companies in China in 2022 in our website.

1. Background introduction

Senior Chinese industry figures said in an interview with reporters that with the rapid growth of the global new energy industry, lithium resources as the core raw material are hampering the development of the industry. The sodium resource is rich in reserves, and the low temperature and rate performance are better, and the market prospect is broad.

With the breakthrough of technology and the intervention of capital, sodium-ion batteries are expected to be mass-produced in the second half of the year. Through a comprehensive interview with several listed companies, the reporter learned that China Three Gorges Renewables (600905.SH) CATL (300750.SZ) DFD (002407.SZ) and Transimage (002866.SZ) and other companies will complete production lines of sodium ion batteries in the second half of this year to next year.

2. Sodium-ion batteries emerge as low-cost alternative

Data shows that as of now, the price of battery-grade lithium carbonate in China is about 480,000 RMB / ton, an increase of more than 50% compared with 311,500 RMB / ton at the beginning of the year, and an astonishing 11 times increase compared to the same period in 2020.

Similar to the principle of lithium ion battery, sodium ion battery stores and releases electrical energy by the transfer of Na+. Although sodium and lithium belong to the same main group element, the difference in physical and chemical properties makes sodium ion battery different from lithium ion battery in the selection of fluid collection and electrolyte for positive and negative electrode materials.

Sodium-ion batteries emerge as low-cost alternative


The cathode electrode of the sodium-ion battery is selected from polyanion materials, Prussian blue system materials, iron manganese copper and other metal oxides. And the anode electrode is selected from hard carbon or transition metal oxides. For electrode materials, the price of sodium and lithium directly determines the difference in electrode cost. Rich resource reserves and no regional restrictions make the price of sodium only one tenth of lithium.

Similarly, the graphite type of anode used in lithium-ion batteries is much more expensive than the hard carbon used in sodium-ion batteries. At the same time, the positive and negative electrodes of sodium ion batteries can use aluminum foil as a fluid collector, while the negative electrode of lithium ion batteries must use the more expensive copper foil lithium ion batteries need higher electrolyte solubility, which further increases the cost of lithium ion batteries.

Relevant studies show that the sample cost of sodium ion battery is about 0.7-0.8 RMB /Wh at the present stage, and with the technology maturity and further expansion of the scale, it can be reduced to 0.2-0.3 RMB /Wh in theory, which is 30%-40% lower than the cost of lithium ion battery (lithium iron phosphate).

3. Sodium batteries hold great promise for energy storage

In addition to cost, sodium-ion batteries also have obvious advantages in terms of low temperature, fast charging and safety, but their disadvantages in energy density and cycle life are also unavoidable. Since the radius of the sodium ion is much larger than that of the lithium ion, the energy density of the same volume is lower than that of the lithium battery.

Relevant data show that the current mainstream ternary lithium battery cell energy density has reached 250Wh/kg, even the lower lithium iron phosphate battery energy density is about 180Wh/kg. The energy density of the first generation of sodium ion batteries released in CALT is 160W/kg, while the energy density of sodium ion batteries at the present stage of DFD is only about 130Wh /kg.

Sodium batteries hold great promise for energy storage


Also, because of the large diameter of sodium ions, the electrode material is more likely to peel off during charging and discharging. Therefore, the life of sodium ion batteries is also shorter, with a cycle life of only about 2000 times, which is about 65% of the life of lithium ion batteries. Combining the advantages and disadvantages of sodium-ion batteries, their suitable application scenarios have emerged.

An executive of a sodium battery-related listed company in China told reporters that China's solar power is mostly located in northwest China such as Xinjiang, Gansu and Ningxia, and the lowest temperature in winter is mostly below-20℃, so it is appropriate to apply sodium ion batteries in the energy storage market.

"However, since lithium-ion batteries suffer severe capacity fading at low temperatures, a temperature control system is required to reduce this problem, but this also consumes at least 5 percent of the energy of the battery system and increases the manufacturing cost." Introduction of the professionals.

The relevant policies of the Chinese government are also guiding sodium batteries to the energy storage market. In recent years, relevant documents successively issued by the Chinese government have mentioned the need to develop a new generation of high-performance energy storage technologies such as sodium-ion batteries.

Several industry insiders agree that given the disadvantages in energy density and cycle life, sodium battery is not suitable for the mobile communication and power battery field, but in the energy storage market, sodium battery prospect is particularly broad.

4. Is the mass production of sodium-ion batteries coming soon?

Based on the prospect of sodium-ion batteries, many companies have made relevant layouts in advance. According to the previous plan, starting from the second half of this year, the time for mass production of various companies will come one after another.

The reporter interviewed a number of related listed companies and learned that the world's first 1GWh large-scale mass production line for sodium-ion batteries built by China Three Gorges Renewables (600905.SH) and ZHONGKEHAINA will be officially put into production in the second half of the year.

CALT (300750.SZ), which has released sodium-ion battery products, has also launched the industrialization layout of sodium-ion batteries, and is expected to form a basic industrial chain next year. DFD's (002407.SZ) sodium-ion battery project has a production capacity of about 1GWH in the first phase, and Transimage's (002866.SZ) sodium-ion battery project has a 2GWh production capacity in the first phase. If you want to know more about sodium-ion battery, you can read the article Top 10 sodium-ion battery companies in the world in 2022 in our website.

Is the mass production of sodium-ion batteries coming soon


However, when the first year of mass production of sodium-ion batteries is approaching, some people in the industry have expressed a relatively pessimistic view to reporters. A sodium battery researchers said, due to the sodium battery cathode material still exist uncertainty, the current test production cost is very high, if not in the cathode material performance and cost have substantial breakthrough, the commercialization of sodium ion battery is too early, even 3-5 years to achieve production also belongs to the optimistic.

Now that the companies publicize the mass production time is getting closer and closer, whether the mass production of sodium ion battery will soon be achieved successfully, but in any case, for the market, the emergence of sodium ion battery is a good thing for the market.

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