In November last year I commented on an article reflecting on the projected launch in 2023 of a new scooter by China based scooter manufacturer, Niu, which will be powered by a sodium ion battery. It is understood that work is ongoing still on that project, but in the meantime another battery manufacturer is showing signs of success with sodium-based, rather than lithium-based, batteries.
Northvolt AB from Stockholm in Sweden has developed their version of a sodium ion battery. With an energy density of more than 160 watt-hours per kilogram, it is still behind the 250+ watt-hours per kilogram that can be achieved with lithium-ion batteries. However, it is still a sufficient high energy density to be commercially useful, especially given the greater abundance of sodium versus lithium - sodium can be extracted from saltwater!
What seemingly makes their sodium battery a significant breakthrough, however, is that it is supposedly completely free of critical raw materials. This could lead to a significantly lower cost product, both financially and environmentally.
It will be interesting to see how soon these batteries can be put into commercial applications. Given the low energy density it is the initial intention to put these into stationary use applications, such as electricity storage plants. However, such equipment is a critically important component of the international drive towards net zero, so this is a big step forward.
It is also envisioned, however, that further development will increase that energy storage density to enable these sodium-based batteries to compete in the EV market.
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