Mass Sodium-Ion Batteries Production Starts in 2023

Credit: CATL

Contemporary Amperex Technology is looking to jumpstart its production of sodium-ion batteries in time for next year. They shared their plan as an amendment to their company’s stock exchange filing.

China’s biggest maker of electric vehicle batteries (also known as CATL) is setting up a supply chain for the batteries and has entered into negotiations with some automakers about their use.

The technological limitations of sodium-ion batteries, according to Pacific Securities Co. Ltd analysts, have mostly seen their use confined to e-bikes and energy storage.

But since their lithium-based counterparts are so widely used and have a such high energy density, spiralling costs of their metal inputs have caused some manufacturers to start a race for the most efficient sodium batteries.

Sodium-ion batteries have their own benefits. For one, they are cheaper than other types of cells. They also recharge faster and work well at lower temperatures. And they’re environmentally friendly because they don’t use any rare metals.

The sodium-ion battery has similar working principles to the lithium-ion battery. Sodium ions also shuttle between the cathode and anode. However, compare to lithium ions, sodium ions have a larger volume as well as higher requirements in terms of structural stability and kinetic properties. This has become a bottleneck for the industrialization of sodium-ion batteries.

Dr. Robin Zeng, founder and chairman of CATL at the “Tech Zone” 2021, Credit: CATL

CATL’s first-generation sodium battery generates 160-watt-hours electricity next to a mainstream lithium battery. Last year, CATL unveiled its first sodium battery prototype and said it’s been focusing on developing new technologies for a second-generation sodium battery that can generate 200 watt-hours per kilogram.

Sodium-Ion Batteries brought innovations

Building on a series of innovations in the chemistry system, CATL’s sodium-ion batteries have many features. These features include high energy density, fast-charging capability, excellent thermal stability, and high integration efficiency. CATL’s sodium-ion cells can charge in 15 minutes to 80% at room temperature. And these batteries will sustain 90% capacity retention rate at -20°C and an efficiency level that’s higher than the national safety requirements for traction batteries.

Advantages of the first-generation sodium-ion battery performance

Advantages of the first-generation sodium-ion battery performance. Credit CATL

This generation of sodium-ion batteries can be used for a variety of different applications in a wide range of electrification scenarios, especially in regions with very low temperatures. And it is flexible enough to adapt to all the needs of any given scenario in the field of battery storage technology. CATL developed an AB battery system solution, which is to combine proportionally mixed sodium-ion batteries and lithium-ion batteries into one battery system and control them with a BMS precision algorithm. This new innovative structure opens up more application scenarios for the lithium-sodium battery system.

This September, Shan Xi Hua Yang Group New Energy Co. Ltd. launched a sodium cell production line that can produce one gigawatt-hour of batteries every year.


Sources: Caixin Global, CATL

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