The industry generally believes that lithium vs sodium battery, except that the battery energy density is not as good, the performance of sodium batteries is comparable to it in all aspects, and even better than lithium batteries in terms of safety and low temperature use. And because sodium ions are abundant in nature, sodium batteries can also be used normally at low temperatures, which can meet the application scenarios of fast charging. In this regard, sodium batteries have unique advantages.
Another point that cannot be ignored is the cost. In the future, with the continuous breakthrough of industry technology and the maturity of technology, sodium ion battery products will be fully industrialized, and the production cost of sodium batteries will be further reduced, with high cost performance. In 2023, the industry chain will continue to explore the use scenarios of sodium batteries, and the practical application of sodium batteries in the fields of two-wheeled vehicles and energy storage may be further strengthened.
1. Application scenarios of sodium batteries in two-wheeled vehicles
In terms of travel, two-wheeled vehicles have become the preferred means of transportation for most people in cities due to their advantages such as lightness, convenience and environmental protection. Combined with the needs of this group of people, battery life, safety, power, environmental protection, and portability will all become its development trends in the future.
Statistics show that more than 70% of the two-wheeled vehicles currently on the market use lead-acid batteries. A lead-acid battery is a battery that is mainly made of lead and oxides and uses sulfuric acid solution as the electrolyte. In terms of performance, lead-acid batteries have an average cycle life of 300 to 500.
It has long been said in the industry that sodium batteries will replace lead-acid batteries and occupy the two-wheeled vehicle market. You should know that in terms of performance, sodium batteries have a theoretical cycle life of 3000-4000 times, which far exceeds the cycle times of lead-acid batteries and reduces the frequency of lead-acid battery replacement. In addition, sodium batteries can still maintain a discharge efficiency of more than 90% at -20°C.
Due to the high internal resistance of sodium batteries, they emit less heat when short-circuited. Moreover, so many companies are now vigorously deploying sodium batteries, and their safety has long been tested. It is reported that some battery companies have done acupuncture experiments on sodium batteries, which can achieve no smoke, no fire, no explosion in the whole process, and the temperature rise is low during the actual charging process.
It is said that with the industrialization of sodium batteries, it may occupy part of the two-wheeler market. Because the development of sodium batteries is still in the exploratory stage, there is still a big gap compared with lead-acid batteries in terms of cost performance, safety and after-sales experience. At present, many companies have continued to make efforts in the direction of "two-wheeled vehicles equipped with sodium batteries".
2. Application of sodium batteries in the field of energy storage
Energy storage, as the name implies, refers to converting excess electrical energy into other forms of energy and storing it, thereby improving the stability, reliability and flexibility of the power grid. Compared with lithium batteries, sodium batteries have lower unit cost and stronger safety, and have obvious safety and cost advantages in the field of energy storage, and are highly competitive.
At present, energy storage power stations mainly exist in renewable energy access, home energy storage and industrial energy storage, 5G communication base stations and data centers.
Data show that last year China's energy storage lithium battery shipments reached 130GWh. In 2023, this figure is estimated to continue to increase. Under such circumstances, the market share of sodium batteries is expected to increase rapidly. In the field of communication energy storage and data center backup power, sodium-ion batteries still mainly compete with lead-acid batteries.
In the field of communication energy storage, communication energy storage batteries require up to 2,000 backup cycles, and the rate is generally 0.5C. The requirements for battery cost and safety are higher, and sodium batteries undoubtedly have greater competitiveness.
At the same time, the sodium battery has excellent performance in rate performance, which can meet the demand for high-power start-up and adapt to the demand for instant start-up of data centers. Data show that at room temperature, the discharge efficiency of sodium batteries is as high as 90% at a rate above 2C.
With the increasing application requirements of new-generation communication technologies such as 5G base stations and pico base stations, traditional lead-acid batteries are heavy and have low energy density, making it difficult to meet the requirements. Sodium batteries have great potential. It is worth mentioning that the field of household and industrial energy storage is currently the research direction of top 10 sodium-ion battery companies in the world.
3. Two-wheeled vehicles vs energy storage - which application scenario will sodium batteries be used first
Professionals speculate that, comparing two-wheeled vehicles vs energy storage market, sodium batteries will be preferentially adapted and applied to the latter two-wheeled vehicle market. After all, electric vehicles used for current transportation generally do not have a high demand for power, and the most important thing is safety and economy. In addition, sodium batteries are less polluting to the environment than lead-acid batteries, and are more in line with the policy concept of green environmental protection.
Of course, it will take time to test how the sodium battery will develop in the future. Policy guidance, market demand, capital investment, etc. may affect its future direction. Fortunately, although the future development of sodium batteries is still very long, the overall situation of sodium batteries is still very optimistic.
There is no doubt that Chinese companies have launched a fierce offensive on the research and development of sodium batteries. Statistics show that of the 20 sodium battery factories currently planned in the world, 16 are in China. As a result, in recent years, relevant Chinese companies have made remarkable achievements in the research and development of key technologies of sodium-ion batteries, material preparation, battery production and application.
However, the development of sodium batteries still faces many challenges. For example, the energy density is relatively low, the manufacturing process is relatively immature, and the cycle life is relatively short. These challenges are urgently needed to be overcome. Looking at the current new energy situation, sodium batteries have attracted many companies to join in the layout, whether in the direction of two-wheeled vehicles or in the direction of energy storage.
Sodium batteries want to be widely used in two-wheeled vehicles or in the field of energy storage. The key is to focus on the research and development of cathode materials. Combined with the current status quo, the key to achieving mass production is that the cathode material of sodium batteries can meet the requirements of high specific capacity, high stability, and low cost at the same time, otherwise the price of sodium batteries may not be acceptable to the public.
As pointed out by industry experts, in the future, sodium batteries should continue to make efforts in core technology research and development, low-cost preparation, and large-scale industrial applications. And that will improve the performance of sodium batteries and reduce the cost of sodium-ion batteries, and promote its commercial application in many fields.