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Will Sodium-ion battery replace lithium battery in the future?

Time:2021-8-21Posted:VTC Power Co.,Ltd
Recently more and more customers ask us the question that whether sodium-ion battery replace lithium battery in future.What's the main difference of sodium-ion battery and lithium battery?Herein,we explain in details.

As CATL's sodium ion battery public conference,sodium-ion battery era is coming.Now CATL is expected to accelerate the industrialization of sodium-ion batteries and partially replace iron-lithium batteries in the future.

What is a sodium ion battery? What are its advantages and disadvantages, and its future application prospects? The following is our judgment:

1) Sodium ion battery is not a new technology, there is no so-called "breakthrough" innovation, more it is technological iteration;

2) Sodium-ion batteries have distinct advantages and disadvantages, huge resources and cost advantages, which make it expected to have good application prospects in the fields of energy storage, electric two-wheeled vehicles and A00-class low-speed vehicles. However, the low energy density makes it difficult to replace high-endurance car power batteries (unless,the energy density of next-generation sodium-ion batteries can exceed 200Wh/kg);

3) Considering that sodium reserves are more abundant than lithium, enterprises should pay due attention to the strategic significance of sodium batteries as a technical reserve to ensure energy security.

1. What is a sodium ion battery?
The research on sodium ion batteries can be traced back to the 1970s. In the past 10 years, related research has ushered in a blowout, and the industry has begun to lay out. Similar to the lithium-ion battery rocking chair working principle, the sodium-ion battery relies on the movement of sodium ions between the positive and negative electrodes to work.

The biggest difference between sodium ion battery and lithium battery is the cathode material:

1) Sodium ion battery adopts NaCuFeMnO/soft carbon system vs. lithium iron phosphate/graphite system;

2) Select carbon-based materials, transition metal oxides, alloy materials, etc. for the negative electrode;

3) Choose sodium salt such as sodium hexafluorophosphate vs. lithium battery as the electrolyte;

4) The anode current collector is aluminum foil vs. lithium copper foil.

In terms of manufacturing and production equipment, sodium ion batteries and lithium batteries have high compatibility.

What's the development of sodium-ion batteries?

Since 2021, the high growth of global battery demand has begun to face the issue of lithium resource constraints. Wind data, as of 2021/07/20, the price of lithium carbonate has risen by 66% this year, and lithium hydroxide has risen by 96%.

Compared with lithium resources, sodium resources are rich in reserves and widely distributed, so sodium batteries will have a greater cost advantage after large-scale commercial use.

2. Compare the advantages and disadvantages of lithium batteries and develop sodium-ion batteries

Compared with lithium batteries, sodium ion batteries have the following advantages:

1) Abundant resources, the sodium ion crust abundance of the main charge carrier of sodium ion batteries is about 2.36%, which is much higher than 0.002% of lithium ion;

2) The cost is lower. The cathode material cost of sodium ion batteries (NaCuFeMnO/soft carbon system) is only 40% of the cathode material cost of lithium ion batteries (lithium iron phosphate/graphite system);

3) Safer, the sodium ion battery has relatively stable electrochemical performance.

Disadvantages of lithium battery and sodium ion battery:

1) The energy density is low. The current single energy density of sodium-ion battery cells is only 120Wh/kg, which is significantly lower than the 180Wh/kg of lithium iron phosphate batteries and the ternary 240Wh/kg.

2) The cycle life is relatively short. The current cycle times of sodium ion batteries are up to about 1500 times, which is significantly lower than 6000 times of lithium iron phosphate batteries and 3000 times of NMC batteries.

3) The industrial chain is still imperfect. As engineering equipment and supply chain supporting facilities have not yet been formed, the current production cost is higher than that of lithium batteries.

3. Sodium-ion batteries have tens of billions of market space

Through the above analysis, it will be found that sodium ion batteries have very distinct advantages and disadvantages.

Huge resources and cost advantages make it expected to have broad application prospects in the fields of energy storage, electric two-wheeled vehicles and A00-class automobiles. However, the low energy density has led to a low degree of matching with the long-term endurance requirements of new energy vehicles.
CITIC Securities believes that by virtue of its cost advantages, sodium ion batteries are expected to be commercialized in energy storage, construction machinery, communication base stations, two-wheeled vehicles and other scenarios with lower energy density requirements. Technology forms a certain supplement.

Everbright Securities believes that sodium-ion batteries have good application prospects in the fields of energy storage, electric two-wheelers and A00-class automobiles. It is estimated that in 2025, domestic energy storage demand is 48GWh, two-wheelers demand 41GWh, and A00-class cars demand 34GWh. At present, these three scenarios mainly use lithium iron phosphate batteries. If the industrialization of sodium-ion batteries progresses smoothly, iron-lithium batteries will be replaced.

Now more and more companies depoly the sodium ion battery research and commercialization.VTC Power also chase the step and invest billions of RMB in the sodium ion battery for the future market.

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