Sodium-ion battery has the advantages of abundant raw material resources, easy manufacturing, low cost and high safety, and is another battery technology that is generally optimistic about the industry after lithium-ion batteries.
Especially in the past two years, under the soaring trend of lithium prices, the industrialization process of sodium-ion batteries has been greatly accelerated. Research institutions and start-ups focusing on the research and development of this kind of batteries have promoted sodium-ion battery projects.
At the same time, such as CATL and EVE Lithium Energy have also begun to lay out the battery business of sodium. In terms of energy density, materials, cost and battery hookup, the industrialization of sodium batteries still faces many challenges.
1. The emergence of sodium batteries
In recent years, the rapid development of new energy vehicles around the world has promoted the demand for lithium batteries. It has also led to continued increases in raw material prices.
As the main material in lithium-ion batteries, lithium prices are rising particularly rapidly. Taking battery-grade lithium carbonate as an example, it rose from 5-60,000 RMB per tonne in early 2021 to nearly 600,000 RMB in November 2022.
● Two reasons for the skyrocketing price
On the one hand, there is rapid growth in demand. Lithium reserves, on the other hand, are limited and extremely unevenly distributed. Due to the epidemic and the external environment, the source of raw materials such as lithium in China has been blocked, resulting in its soaring prices.
This has also pushed up the price of end products, and corporate profits have fallen sharply. Compared to the more expensive metal lithium, metal sodium is cheaper. Sodium is not only abundant in reserves, but also has many resources, and the cost is naturally much lower.
● Three outstanding advantages
At the same time, compared with lithium-ion batteries, the sodium batteries also have three outstanding advantages: high safety, good rate performance, and good low temperature performance.
- High safety
High safety is reflected in instantaneous heat generation of sodium ion battery and better stability. Under short circuit, needle puncture and extrusion tests, there is no fire or explosion.
- Good rate performance
The characteristics of good rate performance allow sodium ion batteries to achieve faster charging speeds.
- Low temperature performance
The low temperature performance is good, so that the normal working temperature range of the sodium ion battery can reach -40 °C to 80 °C, which can adapt to the application in the cold environment.
In the context of the shortage of lithium resources, the sharp rise in prices and the strong demand for energy storage, there is an urgent need for new and efficient energy storage technologies to complement lithium-ion batteries, and sodium-ion batteries are on the front line in a timely manner.
At present, in major countries around the world, sodium ion batteries are still in the early stages of industrialization. China's sodium ion technology research and development is at the forefront of the industry, and a number of sodium ion battery companies are promoting the implementation of sodium ion battery manufacturing projects. The first batch of sodium ion battery industry standard plan, the process of industrialization of sodium ion batteries, is in full swing.
2. Mass production of sodium batteries
Faced with the broad market prospects of battery of sodium, a number of start-ups focusing on the research and development of sodium ion battery materials and cells have emerged in China. At the same time, the lithium battery companies in the world have also begun to scale the layout of battery businesses of sodium.
For example: CATL, Farasis, EVE, Great power, Sunwoda, etc. Many companies report that polyfluorinated electrolyte material sodium hexafluorophosphate has been commercially produced, with an annual output of 1,000 tons of stable production capacity.
The battery line of sodium products are off the production line, and we are committed to promoting the industrialization of sodium ion batteries in 2023. In the public news, the mass production of upstream materials and sodium ion battery cells has formed a preliminary industrial chain.
From a manufacturing perspective, sodium-ion batteries and lithium-ion batteries have similar principles and structures, and many production lines can be shared. In terms of production capacity and equipment construction, it can quickly switch to the upper volume. The industry expects that 2023 may usher in the period of large-scale mass production of sodium ion batteries, and the first year of industrialization.
3. Energy storage application prospects
● The cause of the impact
Although sodium resources are abundant, the price of sodium carbonate is low (sodium carbonate is several thousand RMB per ton, while lithium carbonate is hundreds of thousands of RMB per ton). And the cost of sodium batteries will be lower in theory, but not because the current industrial chain is not mature enough.
Upstream materials have not yet achieved large-scale mass production, and the price is high, so the overall cost of sodium battery is still high. While the lithium ion battery prices was relatively low.
At present, the commercialization process of battery sodium mainly depends on its cost reduction, which depends on the perfect support of all links of the industrial chain, including cathode materials, anode materials, electrolytes, etc., and still requires a lot of capital investment.
An industry insider pointed out. Sodium ion batteries are not as dense as lithium ion batteries and so as the market. CATL said that it has achieved an energy density of 160Wh/kg, but there is still a certain gap between it and the energy density of ternary lithium batteries. Therefore, for electric vehicle applications with high battery energy density requirements, these batteries are currently not comparable to lithium ion batteries.
● Prospects for development
For cost-effective energy storage, small electric equipment, low-speed electric vehicles and other applications. With the gradual improvement of the sodium ion battery industry chain, the cost has decreased, or it will usher in a broad application space.
In particular, energy storage applications have high safety requirements, and the excellent thermal stability of sodium ion batteries makes them ideal for future energy storage applications. Industry insiders believe that the application of sodium ions in the field of energy storage will be faster than the path traveled by lithium-ion batteries in the early stage.
In the context of the serious shortage of lithium materials, lithium-ion batteries alone will not be able to support the three major market demands of consumer electronics, new energy vehicles, and energy storage.
Sodium-ion batteries with wide temperature range, high rate, easy manufacturing, low cost, high safety and other advantages have become a useful supplement to lithium-ion batteries, and the growth potential of the new energy storage market is huge, and sodium-ion batteries will usher in broad application prospects.