What are sodium batteries? How do Sodium-ion EV Batteries work?
Lithium has taken over the market for solar energy storage systems. This can be seen both in the commitment of manufacturers to develop lithium batteries and in the expansion of these storage systems in homes and businesses. This has meant a significant increase in the demand for this mineral.
What is a sodium battery?
A sodium battery works similarly to a lithium battery; it transports the load using sodium ions (Na+) instead of lithium ions (Li+).
Sodium Farad Battery
First studied in the 1980s, Sodium batteries have received considerable attention for their exciting potential as a low-cost alternative to lithium battery technology.
Because Li and Na are in the same alkali group, their physical and chemical/electrochemical properties are similar. However, there are differences between the batteries of one and another chemical, as we will see later.
How do Sodium-ion EV batteries work?
Ongoing charging releases more sodium ions through absorption and intercalation mechanisms to reach a predetermined end-of-charge voltage. The discharge process reverses the movement of sodium ions from the negative to the positive electrode. There is a constant drop in cell voltage to reach a defined cutoff voltage.
Each cycle includes the transport of sodium ions from the positive to the negative electrode (charge) and back (discharge).
Advantages of Sodium-ion EV Batteries
The limited reserves of lithium pave the way for versatile and economically viable sodium for various battery applications. Let’s see the main advantages of sodium-ion batteries.
- Abundantly Available: Alkali metal is the sixth most abundant material on Earth. Abundant availability is the reason behind the ever-increasing R&D for developing and deploying sodium batteries.
- Highly Adaptable: Sodium-ion EV Batteries can be used for a wide range of EV battery applications.
- Energy Efficient: Sodium batteries are very energy efficient and can be charged quickly without compromising performance quality.
- Fireproof: Lithium-ion cells risk overheating or thermal runaway, leading to battery failure, cell explosion or fire. The relative stability of sodium batteries makes the difference in this regard.
- Low-cost alternative: Lithium battery materials are costly. In comparison, the components of sodium batteries are less expensive. A sodium battery is considered safer and 30% cheaper than its lithium-ion counterpart.
- Less Toxic: Lithium battery fires can release toxic gases into the environment. In contrast, sodium batteries are safe and environmentally friendly as they do not require lithium, cobalt, copper or nickel.
- Stable: Sodium ionizes readily, and Sodium-ion EV batteries are relatively stable at wider temperatures with demonstrable system integration efficiency. That is, sodium batteries handle extreme temperatures better than lithium batteries, which makes them more suitable for extreme weather conditions. Thus, according to the manufacturer, at -20C, the sodium battery retains 90% of its nominal capacity.
Research indicates that sodium-ion batteries will be able to meet the growing demands for clean and green energy. Some of the known applications for sodium batteries include:
Automobiles and Transportation
The carbon emission reduction target significantly impacts the electrification of transport. Therefore, cost-effective Sodium-ion EV batteries are a must in electric vehicle (EV) innovation. With electric vehicle sales expected to grow in the coming years, sodium ion technology is the undisputed choice for electric mobility.
Smart grids depend on reliable power. An intermittent power supply may prevent network operation. Sodium-ion batteries can help optimize solar power to meet grid energy storage requirements.
Sodium-ion batteries can maximize asset utilization and minimize operating costs with a constant state of readiness and mighty peak power.
The data and telecommunications sectors rely heavily on battery-powered infrastructure and operations to power the global economy. Sodium batteries can provide power on demand to ensure a smooth and safe power supply. Marginal raw materials to lithium have been explored for the past few years to manufacture energy storage systems for electronic vehicles. And one of these alternatives is sodium-ion batteries. The relative abundance and low cost of sodium as Sodium-ion EV batteries position it as a good choice for next-generation battery technologies.