The Rise of Sodium-ion Batteries: A Potential Game-Changer in Energy Storage.
Posted by Mohit Kumar on 07-Jul-2023 12:14 PM
Since 2010, there has been a resurgence of interest in Sodium-based cathode/anode/electrolyte battery research. This chemistry has undergone tremendous development over the past few years, leading to the emergence of a new ecosystem focused on Sodium-ion batteries. With more than 10 companies announcing commercialization plans by 2024/25, it is evident that this technology is gaining traction.
One significant advantage of Sodium-ion batteries is that all the necessary raw materials are available in India. To leverage this advantage, the country needs to rapidly scale up production to attain a position similar to China's dominance in Lithium. As energy storage technologies evolve, different battery chemistries will emerge for various applications, creating diverse demands for materials.
The fundamentals of Lithium and Sodium-ion battery electrochemistry were established in the 1970s, with both sharing a similar working principle. However, Lithium-ion batteries surged ahead due to the advent of high-capacity Lithium Cobalt Oxide cathode materials and successful demonstrations by Sony in cell fabrication processes. Subsequently, the battery research community primarily focused on Lithium-ion battery development, achieving significant progress in materials and processes.
Presently, Sodium-ion batteries have lower energy densities compared to Lithium-ion NMC-type batteries (250 Whr/kg). However, considering the remarkable progress made in Lithium-ion battery performance over the past five years, Sodium-ion batteries are expected to catch up in the near future.
Moreover, Sodium-ion chemistry offers certain advantages over Lithium-ion, including wider temperature tolerance and better performance in both high and low-temperature conditions.
The attributes of Sodium-ion batteries make them preferable for numerous applications. Within stationary applications, there are two broad categories: behind the meter (BTM) and in front of the meter (FTM). BTM applications encompass solar rooftops, commercial UPS backup, telecom tower backup, and diesel generator minimization.
FTM applications include grid-scale renewable energy integration, grid supply and demand management, and frequency regulation. Sodium-ion batteries can prove highly suitable for both categories.
Initially, Sodium-ion batteries were considered suitable mainly for commercial vehicles such as buses, three-wheelers, and commercial delivery vehicles due to their lower energy density. However, recent advancements have led to plans by companies like CATL and BYD to launch passenger four-wheelers with Sodium-ion batteries. This progress opens up opportunities for Sodium-ion batteries to be used in two-wheelers as well.
While Lithium-ion cells in China are priced as low as USD 80-100/KWh, the landed price in India is broader, ranging from USD 100-300/KWh. Sodium-ion batteries are expected to have a raw material price that is 30-50% lower than Lithium-ion batteries, potentially reaching USD 70/KWh at the same production volume.
Moreover, Sodium-ion batteries offer cost advantages beyond cell-level costs. Their temperature tolerance reduces the complexity and cost of cooling systems, while faster charging capabilities allow for smaller battery pack sizes. These factors contribute to a reduction in the total cost of ownership.
Sodium-ion battery technology presents a compelling case for various applications. A strategic selection of applications for Sodium and Lithium batteries can help reduce the steep demand for Lithium. As technological developments and production scale-ups progress, Sodium-ion batteries can offer commercial viability for clean energy and clean transportation. By broadening the range of available battery chemistries, the world can move towards a more sustainable future with reduced reliance on fossil fuels and cleaner air to breathe.
At KPIT, we have been actively involved in the development of clean and sustainable technologies, including electric powertrains. With a deep understanding of battery materials, processes, and characterization, we have developed Sodium-ion battery technology from scratch.
Our focus is on commercial-ready solutions and collaborating with cell manufacturing companies to bring our technology to market. We believe that a diverse array of battery technologies will coexist, catering to different applications and needs.
Just as a healthy forest thrives with diverse species, the world of batteries will benefit from a variety of chemistries tailored to specific requirements. As a nation, we must continue to invest in new technologies and embrace different battery chemistries to meet our energy needs, reduce fuel imports, and foster a thriving domestic economy. By strategically harnessing the potential of Sodium-ion batteries, we can unlock cost advantages and accelerate the adoption of clean energy and transportation, leading to a cleaner, more sustainable future.