Sodium-ion batteries – a viable alternative to lithium?

Sodium-ion batteries – a viable alternative to lithium?

Sodium-ion batteries are a gift course of and an essential interval of commercialization as industries from automotive to energy storage wager huge on the experience. Established battery producers and newcomers are jostling to get from lab to fab with a viable distinction to lithium-ion.

With the latter customary for electrical mobility and stationary storage, new experience ought to present confirmed advantages. Sodium ion appears properly positioned, with superior safety, raw supplies costs, and environmental credentials.

Sodium ion devices don’t need essential provides, relying on plentiful sodium as an alternative choice to lithium, and no cobalt or nickel. As lithium-ion prices rose in 2022, amid predictions of material shortages, sodium ion was tipped as a rival and curiosity stays strong, concurrently lithium-ion prices have begun to fall as soon as extra.

“We’re presently monitoring 335.4 GWh of sodium ion cell manufacturing functionality out to 2030, highlighting that there is nonetheless considerable dedication to the experience,” talked about Evan Hartley, senior analyst at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.

In May 2023, the London-based information tracked 150 GWh to 2030.


Sodium ion cells, produced at scale, may very well be 20% to 30% cheaper than lithium ferro/iron-phosphate (LFP), the dominant stationary storage battery experience, primarily due to plentiful sodium and low extraction and purification costs. Sodium-ion batteries can use aluminum for the anode current collector as an alternative choice to copper – utilized in lithium-ion – further reducing costs and offering chain risks. These monetary financial savings are nonetheless potential.

“Sooner than sodium-ion batteries can drawback current lead acid and lithium iron phosphate batteries, enterprise players would possibly wish to reduce the experience’s value by bettering technical effectivity, establishing present chains, and attaining economies of scale,” talked about Shazan Siddiqi, senior experience analyst at United Kingdom-based market evaluation agency IDTechEx. “Nation’s value profit is solely achievable when the scale of producing reaches a producing scale akin to lithium-ion battery cells. Moreover, a further price drop of lithium carbonate might reduce the price profit sodium provides.”

Sodium ion is unlikely to supplant lithium ion in capabilities prioritizing extreme effectivity, and may as an alternative be used for stationary storage and microelectrical autos. S&P Worldwide analysts anticipate lithium ion to offer 80% of the battery market by 2030, with 90% of those devices primarily based totally on LFP. Sodium ion might make up 10% of the market.

Correct choices

Researchers have considered sodium ions as a result of the mid-twentieth century and up-to-date developments embody enhancements in storage functionality and machine life cycle, along with new anode and cathode provides. Sodium ions are bulkier than lithium counterparts, so sodium ion cells have decreased voltage along with decreased gravimetric and volumetric energy density.

Sodium ion gravimetric energy density is presently round 130 Wh/kg to 160 Wh/kg nevertheless is anticipated to excessive 200 Wh/kg ultimately, above the theoretical restriction for LFP devices. In power density phrases, nonetheless, sodium-ion batteries might have 1 kW/kg, better than nickel-manganese-cobalt’s (NMC) 340W/kg to 420 W/kg and LFP’s 175 W/kg to 425 W/kg.

Whereas a sodium ion machine’s lifetime of 100 to 1,000 cycles is decreased than LFP, Indian developer KPIT has reported a lifespan with 80% functionality retention for six,000 cycles – relying on cell chemistry – akin to lithium-ion devices.

“There could also be nonetheless no single profitable chemistry inside sodium-ion batteries,” talked about IDTechEx’s Siddiqi. “Loads of R&D efforts are being undertaken to go looking out the fitting anode/cathode energetic supplies that allow scalability previous the lab stage.”

Sodium ion

Referring to the United States-based safety science group Underwriter Laboratories, Siddiqi added that “UL standardization for sodium ion cells is, resulting from this reality, nonetheless a while away and this makes OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] hesitant to resolve to such an experience.”

Prussian white, polyanion, and layered oxide are cathode candidates that embody cheaper provides than their lithium-ion counterparts. The earlier, utilized by Northvolt and CATL, is extensively obtainable and low-cost nevertheless has comparatively low volumetric energy density. United Kingdom-based agency Faradion makes use of layered oxide, which ensures better energy density nevertheless is affected by functionality fade over time. France’s Tiamat makes use of polyanion, which is further regular nevertheless choices toxic vanadium.

“The overwhelming majority of cell producers planning sodium-ion battery functionality will in all probability be using layered oxide cathode experience,” talked about Benchmark’s Hartly. “Truly, 71% of the [cell] pipeline is layered oxide. Equally, 90.8% of the sodium ion cathode pipeline is layered oxide.”

Whereas cathodes are the essential factor value driver for lithium ions, the anode is the costliest half in sodium-ion batteries. Laborious carbon is the same old different for sodium ion anodes nevertheless manufacturing functionality lags behind that of sodium ion cells, ramping up prices. Laborious carbon provides haven’t too way back been derived from quite a few precursors harking back to animal waste, sewage sludge, glucose, cellulose, wooden, coal, and petroleum derivatives. Synthetic graphite, a typical lithium-ion anode materials, relies upon just about fully on the latter two precursors. With its rising present chain, laborious carbon is dearer than graphite and represents one in all many key hurdles in sodium ion cell manufacturing.

Partially mitigating better costs, sodium-ion batteries exhibit increased temperature tolerance, notably in sub-zero conditions. They’re safer than lithium-ion, as they’re typically discharged to zero volts, reducing hazard all through transportation and disposal. Lithium-ion batteries are typically saved at round 30% value. The sodium ion has a lot much less coronary heart hazard, as its electrolytes have a greater flashpoint – the minimal temperature at which a chemical can vaporize to type an ignitable mixture with air. With every chemistry that features associated buildings and dealing guidelines, sodium ions can usually be dropped into lithium-ion manufacturing traces and kit.

The world’s essential battery maker CATL is integrating sodium ions into its lithium ion infrastructure and merchandise. Its first sodium-ion battery, launched in 2021, had an influence density of 160 Wh/kg, with a promised 200 Wh/kg ultimately. In 2023, CATL talked about that Chinese language language automaker Chery may be the first to utilize its sodium-ion batteries. CATL knowledgeable late in 2023 that it has developed a main enterprise chain for sodium-ion batteries and established mass manufacturing. Manufacturing scale and shipments will depend on purchaser enterprise implementation, talked about CATL, together with that further should be achieved for the large-scale enterprise rollout of sodium ion. “We hope that the whole enterprise will work collectively to promote the occasion of sodium-ion batteries,” talked about the battery maker.

Price to sodium

In January 2024, China’s best carmaker and second-biggest battery supplier, BYD, talked about it had begun constructing of a CNY 10 billion ($1.4 billion), 30 GWh per yr sodium ion battery manufacturing unit. The output might be power “micromobility” devices. HiNa, spun out of the Chinese language language Academy of Sciences, in December 2022 had commissioned a gigawatt-hour-scale sodium ion battery manufacturing line and launched a Na-ion battery product and electrical car prototype.

European battery maker Northvolt unveiled 160 Wh/kg-validated sodium ion battery cells in November 2023. Developed with Altris – spun out of Uppsala School, in Sweden – the experience will in all probability be used throughout the agency’s next-generation energy storage machine. Northvolt’s current offering depends on NMC chemistry. On the launch, Wilhelm Löwenhielm, Northvolt’s senior director of enterprise enchancment for energy storage strategies, talked about the company needs a battery that is aggressive with LFP at scale. “Over time, the experience is anticipated to surpass LFP significantly in the case of cost-competitiveness,” he talked about.

Northvolt needs a “plug-and-play” battery for fast market entry and scale-up. “Key actions for bringing this particular experience to market are scaling the supply chain for battery-grade provides, which Northvolt is presently doing, together with companions,” talked about Löwenhielm.

Smaller players are moreover doing their bit to convey sodium ion experience to commercialization. Faradion, which was acquired by Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries in 2021, says it is now transferring its next-generation cell design to manufacturing. “Now we’ve developed a model new cell experience and footprint with 20% better energy density, and elevated cycle-life by a third compared with our earlier cell design,” talked about Faradion Chief Authorities Officer (CEO) James Quinn.

The company’s first-generation cells demonstrated an influence density of 160 Wh/kg. In 2022, Quinn talked about that Reliance intentionally constructed a double-digit-gigawatt sodium ion manufacturing unit in India. For now, these plans are nonetheless in place. In August 2023, Reliance Chairman Mukesh Ambani knowledgeable the company’s annual shareholder meeting that the enterprise is “centered on fast-track commercialization of our sodium-ion battery experience … We’re going to assemble on our experience administration by industrializing sodium ion cell manufacturing at a megawatt stage by 2025 and shortly assemble as a lot as Giga scale thereafter,” he talked about.


Startup Tiamat has moved forward with its plans to start constructing a 5 GWh manufacturing plant in France’s Hauts-de-France space. In January 2024, it raised €30 million ($32.4 million) in equity and debt financing and talked about that it expects to complete the financing of its industrial enterprise throughout the coming months, bringing the general financing to round €150 million. The company, a by-product of the French Nationwide Centre for Scientific Evaluation, will initially manufacture sodium ion cells for power devices and stationary storage capabilities in its manufacturing unit, “to satisfy the first orders which have already been obtained.” It’ll later objective scaled-up manufacturing of second-generation merchandise for battery electrical automobile capabilities.

Within the USA, enterprise players are moreover ramping up their commercialization efforts. In January 2024, Acculon Vitality launched a group of producing of its sodium-ion battery modules and packs for mobility and stationary energy storage capabilities and unveiled plans to scale its manufacturing to 2 GWh by mid-2024. Within the meantime, Natron Vitality, a by-product out of Stanford School, is meant to start mass-producing its sodium-ion batteries in 2023. It aimed to make 600 MW of sodium ion cells at battery producer Clarios Worldwide’s exiting lithium ion Meadowbrook facility, in Michigan. Updates on progress have been restricted, nonetheless.


In October 2023, Peak Vitality emerged with $10 million in funding and an administration workforce comprising ex-Northvolt, Enovix, Tesla, and SunPower executives. The company talked about it would initially import battery cells and that was not anticipated to change until early 2028. “You wish to spherical a billion {{dollars}} for a small-scale gigawatt manufacturing unit – assume decrease than 10 GW,” Peak Vitality CEO Landon Mossberg talked about on the launch. “So the quickest technique to get to market is to assemble a system with cells obtainable from a third event, and China is the one place establishing functionality to ship enough cells.” Lastly, the company hopes to qualify for house content material materials credit score beneath the US Inflation Low cost Act.

Some suppliers, harking back to India’s KPIT, have entered the home with no manufacturing plans. The automotive software program program and engineering choices enterprise unveiled its sodium-ion battery experience in December 2023 and launched right into a look for manufacturing companions. Ravi Pandit, chairman of KPIT, talked about that the company has developed a number of variants with energy density ranging from 100 Wh/kg to 170 Wh/kg, and doubtless reaching 220 Wh/kg.

“As soon as we started work on sodium-ion batteries, the preliminary expectation of energy density was pretty low,” he talked about. “Nonetheless over the previous eight years, the facility density has been going up because of the developments that we and completely different firms have been ending up.” Others are searching for present partnerships. Ultimate 12 months, the Finnish experience group Wärtsilä – one in all many world’s essential battery energy storage system integrators – talked about that it was trying to find potential partnerships or acquisitions throughout the self-discipline. On the time, it was transferring in the direction of testing the experience in its evaluation facilities. “Our workforce stays devoted to pursuing new alternate options in the case of diversifying energy storage utilized sciences, harking back to incorporating sodium ion batteries into our future stationary energy storage choices,” talked about Amy Liu, director of strategic choices enchancment at Wärtsilä Vitality Storage and Optimization, in February 2024.

Nearshoring different

Following many mass-production bulletins, sodium-ion batteries are literally on the make-or-break stage and investor curiosity will resolve the experience’s future. IDTechEx’s market analysis carried out in November 2023, suggests the anticipated growth of a minimal of 40 GWh by 2030, with an additional 100 GWh of manufacturing functionality hinging within the market’s success by 2025.

“These projections assume an impending development throughout the [sodium ion battery] enterprise, which depends upon enterprise dedication inside the next few years,” talked about Siddiqi.

Sodium ion might present but yet one more different to near-shore clear energy present chains, with the required raw provides so out there all through the globe. Plainly the follow has already left the station, nonetheless.

“As with the early ranges of the lithium-ion battery market, the first bottleneck for the worldwide enterprise could be the dominance of China,” talked about Benchmark’s Hartley. “As of 2023, 99.4% of sodium ion cell functionality was primarily based in China and this decide is solely forecast to fall to 90.6% by 2030. As protection in Europe and North America seeks to shift lithium-ion battery present chains away from China, due to the reliance on its house manufacturing, so too will a shift be wished throughout the sodium ion market to create localized present chains.”

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