As part of the efforts to continue driving down battery costs, China, a dominant LIB maker, is now betting big on another solution that many other countries might soon feel slightly salty
about: sodium-ion batteries (often abbreviated as NIBs after the chemical symbol for sodium, Na), the website writes.
2023 has been dubbed
the breakout year for sodium-ion batteries by many commentators
on the Chinese internet.
This comes as Chinese battery giants CATL and BYD announced
their plan for mass production of sodium-ion batteries earlier this year in order to seize opportunities in the growing NIB market, the article
added. Preliminary industry data indicates
a projected national production capacity of 13.5 GWh by the end of 2023 in China, while the largest NIB project in development in the U.S. will be just 600 MWh
Sodium-ion batteries are 30% cheaper than the most common type of lithium-ion batteries like LFPs, it explains. This cost differential is due to NIBs’ lithium-free composition and low-cost cathodes. Abundant and widely-available sodium supplies ensure a stable and economical supply of raw materials. Additionally, NIBs are safer, have a longer cycle life, and can operate within a wide temperature range (-70 to 100°C) compared to LIBs. However, a significant trade off is their lower energy density, which remains a drawback for their use in EVs.
However, in February, Chinese NIB startup HiNA Battery surprised the market by unveiling the first passenger vehicle equipped with sodium-ion batteries. The test vehicle's battery exhibited an energy density of 140 Wh/kg at the cell level, providing a range of 252 km (Tesla’s Model Y has an electric range of 393-525 km).
China’s CATL, the world’s largest lithium-ion battery manufacturer, produces sodium-ion cells with a NIB energy density of 160 Wh/kg, approximately 10 Wh/kg higher than many of its competitors, the Powerhouse added.
The Chinese market is perhaps uniquely well-suited for NIBs given ongoing technology improvements, cost incentives, easy conversion from LIB production lines, and a receptive market for shorter-range transportation solutions, it noted.