On the road of power battery cost reduction and efficiency, the rising star sodium-ion battery has recently become a hot spot.
On 23 February, the industry's first sodium-ion battery test vehicle jointly built by Silhouette New Energy and Zhongkehai Sodium made its public debut. On the same day, the staff of listed company DuoFuDuo also said that the company has sodium-ion battery products in the loading test. In addition, ningde times, guoxuan gaoke, yiwei lithium energy, fu can technology and other enterprises are speeding up the sodium-ion battery research and development.
One of the reasons why a number of battery companies flock to the new sodium-ion track is its cost advantage. Chen Liquan, academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said at the end of last year, the sodium-ion battery industry chain and standards development forum, the cost of sodium-ion batteries is expected to be lower than lithium iron phosphate batteries by more than 20%. But he also added the prerequisites, that is, the need for the improvement of the industrial chain, the improvement of technical maturity and scale effect.
If one of the main purposes of the development of sodium-ion batteries in the first two years is to reduce the cost of materials, then in the recent continued decline in lithium prices, sodium-ion batteries, the price advantage is still there? The answer is yes. Despite the current downward trend in lithium prices, they are still at a high level. on 1 March, the price per tonne of battery-grade lithium carbonate fell to $387,500 per tonne, down below $400,000, down 34% from the high of $600,000 in the fourth quarter of 2022, but still nine times higher than the fourth quarter of 2019, which was about $42,000 per tonne before the new crown outbreak. Moreover, due to the limited lithium ore reserves, longer development cycle, and more links in the industrial chain, coupled with the poor transport caused by the turbulent international situation, and the surge in demand due to the rapid growth in global new energy vehicle production and sales, it is difficult for lithium prices to return to the low level of 2019. The reports of a number of international market research institutions have said that this year's lithium prices will remain at about 400,000 yuan per tonne, and if there are no accidents, in 2025 it will also hover between 250,000 and 300,000 yuan per tonne. In addition, ternary lithium batteries require lithium and cobalt are rare metals, so lithium-ion batteries down the price space is limited. In contrast, the sodium salt raw materials needed for sodium-ion batteries are abundant and inexpensive, and the anode can use aluminium foil as a collector, which can further reduce the cost by 8% and the weight by about 10%. Therefore, if the lithium-ion battery without overall major technological innovation, and as long as the price of lithium carbonate in 2026 in more than 150,000 yuan per tonne, sodium-ion batteries still have a cost advantage.
In addition, sodium-ion batteries have no overdischarge characteristics, allowing the battery to discharge to 0 volts, good thermal stability, good low temperature performance, high security, easy fast charging, etc. are its advantages. It is reported that Changhong New Energy Materials Laboratory has achieved the innovation of sodium-ion battery charging 70% in 26 seconds, although there is still a distance from industrialisation, but also shows the excellent performance of sodium-ion battery.
Under the layout of many enterprises, sodium-ion battery is ready to go. However, any new technology is flawed, both pros and cons. The future of sodium-ion batteries to industrial applications, and to gain a place in the market, further breakthroughs are needed. Technically, sodium-ion batteries still need to solve the problems of low energy density and short cycle life. For example, the sodium in the sea of science and technology for the new energy to provide the square core energy density of 155Wh / kg, but the general lithium iron phosphate battery energy density of 200Wh / kg, lithium ternary battery energy density of 240Wh / kg. That is to say, the same weight of the battery, sodium-ion battery mileage is only lithium ternary batteries, about 67%, lithium iron phosphate battery of about 80%. The Silhouette New Energy test vehicle is also a small electric vehicle with a driving range of 252 kilometres. For the longer range of medium and large electric vehicles, sodium-ion batteries are still "more than enough". In the cycle life, usually the average cycle life of lithium iron phosphate battery 6000 times, the average cycle life of lithium ternary battery 3000 times, while the average cycle life of sodium-ion battery is only 1500 times. Based on the characteristics of sodium-ion batteries, many industry insiders believe that sodium-ion batteries will become the next generation of small and micro electric vehicles and energy storage batteries. To open up a broader market, sodium-ion batteries still need to work on technology development.
At present, some battery companies have already said that they can raise the energy density of sodium-ion batteries to a level comparable to that of lithium iron phosphate batteries this year, and they are experimenting with internal structural design, material selection, and changing voltages to improve the cycle life of sodium-ion batteries. It is said that the first generation of sodium-ion batteries of Ningde Times can achieve 3,000 charge/discharge cycles, and will continue to improve with the subsequent technological progress. The energy density of the next generation of sodium-ion batteries will exceed 200 Wh/kg, and it is believed that once the short boards of sodium-ion batteries are made up, their prospects will be even broader.
At present, the sodium-ion battery is still in the early stage of promotion. For power battery companies, to make sodium-ion batteries are accepted by the market, both need to crack the technical bottleneck, make up for the technical shortcomings, but also to have a realistic profitability programme. For example, some companies envisage that at this stage, sodium-ion batteries and lithium-ion batteries will be mixed and matched according to a certain ratio, integrated into the same battery system, and the balanced control of different battery systems through the battery management system (BMS) precise algorithm can achieve a higher cost-effective price and optimisation of the battery system, which reflects a good idea of integration and development.
Some industry insiders believe that 2023 may become the sodium-ion battery "industrialisation year", 2025 global sodium-ion battery shipments are expected to exceed 90GWh. Now, more and more battery companies to enter this new track, which will inevitably accelerate the sodium-ion battery technology development and commercialization process.
The global new energy vehicle industry is accelerating the development of new energy models "blossomed", power battery technology route is also a diversified development trend. With the development of the industry, the evolution of technology, market demand diversification, the future of lithium-ion batteries, sodium-ion batteries, solid-state batteries, hydrogen fuel cells and other power batteries will coexist for a long time, the technology to avoid the shortcomings of each other to complement each other on the market to meet the demand.