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Cost-effective sodium batteries are expected to replace lithium batteries

Industry News

Cost-effective sodium batteries are expected to replace lithium batteries

2024-02-28 17:22:11

 Sodium-ion batteries are quietly emerging as a high-profile new energy storage technology. Compared with the well-known lithium-ion batteries, sodium-ion batteries have many exciting features and potential. Sodium resources are relatively abundant and widely available. Sodium batteries also perform well in terms of energy storage density and can be used in many fields including electric vehicles.


Principle and definition of sodium ion battery
 Sodium-ion batteries are a rechargeable battery technology similar to lithium batteries, but they differ greatly in raw materials. Sodium-ion batteries use sodium ions to transfer charge between the positive and negative electrodes of the battery to store and release energy, while lithium-ion batteries use lithium ions for charge transfer.

 When a sodium-ion battery is charged, sodium ions leave the positive electrode material and move through the electrolyte into the negative electrode material for storage. This process is reversible, meaning that sodium-ion batteries can be charged and discharged many times. When the stored energy needs to be released, the battery operates in reverse, with sodium ions being released from the negative material and returned to the positive material through the electrolyte, creating an electric current.


 In contrast, the advantage of sodium-ion batteries is the wide availability and relatively low cost of sodium resources, and sodium's abundant presence in the earth's crust makes it a more sustainable option. Lithium resources are relatively scarce, and mining and processing lithium may also have certain impacts on the environment. Therefore, sodium-ion batteries are a greener option when considering sustainability.

 However, sodium-ion batteries are still in the early stages of development and commercialization, and there are still some production challenges compared to lithium-ion batteries, such as larger size, heavier weight, and slower charge and discharge rates. However, with the advancement of technology and in-depth research, sodium-ion batteries are expected to become a battery technology with broad application prospects.


The absolute advantages of sodium-ion batteries
 A significant advantage of sodium-ion batteries is their low cost, a clear advantage over lithium batteries. Lithium batteries use lithium as raw material, and the price of lithium has remained high, making mining and processing lithium metal an extremely profitable business. The production cost of lithium metal per ton is about US$5,000 to US$8,000.

 It is worth noting that $5,000 to $8,000 is just the cost of mining and producing lithium, and the market price of lithium is much higher than this figure. Lithium is sold on the market for more than ten times that amount, according to public data from a New York-based private equity firm that invests in the electric vehicle industry.


 Taking the United States as an example, given the huge profit margins, investors and banks are eager to invest or lend to lithium mining or lithium processing projects. The United States even provides tens of millions of dollars worth of grants to lithium prospectors and processors. Lithium is not uncommon on Earth, but it wasn't considered very valuable until sales of electric cars started taking off.

 As demand soars, the industry scrambles to open new mines and processing plants increase their capacity to process the ore. The price of lithium has been soaring, gradually forming a monopoly market. Automakers have also begun to worry about lithium shortages and rising prices. Even major automakers such as Tesla will directly get involved in the lithium business. Automakers' anxiety over the raw material lithium gave rise to sodium-ion batteries.