“Sodium-ion batteries have unique advantages in low-temperature performance, fast charging and environmental adaptability,” CATL Chairman Zeng Yuqun said. “Moreover, they’re compatible and complementary with lithium-ion batteries. Diversified technical routes are an important guarantee for the long-term development of the industry.” While China’s CATL is the world’s biggest battery maker, supplying Telsa and selling 34.1 gigawatt hours in the first half, up 234% year-on-year for a market share of 30%, like other manufacturers it has been hit by rising raw materials costs. The price of lithium carbonate, a core ingredient in most electric vehicle batteries, has doubled this year while the price of nickel, another key metal, is at a five-month high.
Outside of their lower raw materials costs — there are abundant sodium resources in the Earth’s crust — sodium-ion batteries have a few advantages. A long charging time won’t cause battery damage and their chemical reaction is free of corrosivity. But their lower energy density tends to exclude them from powering passenger vehicles that require decent range, so they’re mainly used for low-speed electric vehicles and low-end energy storage solutions. Notwithstanding, CATL said that through breakthroughs in R&D, its first-generation sodium-ion batteries have reached 160 watt-hours/kilogram, a measure of energy density of energy, and should exceed 200 Wh/kg in coming generations.
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