By Dave Pell, commercial director, AMTE Power
Sodium-ion batteries are fast developing as an alternative to lithium counterparts for many uses, and this cell chemistry has huge potential for growth.
In particular there’s a great deal of opportunity for sodium-ion cells to accelerate the clean energy transition. They can be used in energy storage, which is central to boosting renewable power production by storing power from wind turbines and solar panels. In turn this can support energy independence and combatting soaring gas prices. The cells can also be developed for use in many electric vehicles, which is especially important as the market grows and the supply of lithium is squeezed.
But what makes the technology so standout, and why is it becoming increasingly popular?
Sodium is easy to obtain
Sodium, or Na, is one of the world’s most abundant metals. This means it’s easier to find sodium deposits than lithium deposits, and they are also typically closer to where they are needed, making the material far more sustainable. It’s often easier to extract too – economically, this results in lower costs for manufacture and can support demand for greater production rates. In turn, the savings can be passed on to the customer, creating a more affordable product. And unlike lithium batteries, sodium batteries don’t use cobalt or copper, further reducing costs and enhancing sustainability.
This is an ideal scenario for developing a secure and reliable supply chain for what will be an essential material in a net zero society.
Sodium-ion cells are thermally stable
One of the major benefits of a sodium-ion cell is in its thermal performance. It is far more stable at higher temperatures, so it doesn’t reach what’s called ‘thermal runaway’ at the lower temperatures lithium cell chemistries do.
This means there is less need for costly cooling technologies in the casing and systems around the cell. As a result, batteries can be lighter, more portable, and use less materials overall. This can support a cheaper, more sustainable and more flexible product to store and discharge energy. Sodium-ion cells also perform well at both extreme high and low temperatures, making them a perfect fit for serving some of the remotest parts of the world with safe, reliable power.
Sodium-ion cells are safer
As the name of our sodium product, UltraSafe, suggests, sodium-ion cells are inherently safer than some other cell technologies on the market. That’s partly because of their thermal stability, but the safety of these cells goes further than this.
Unlike lithium cells, which are transported as ‘dangerous goods’ – as they have to be in a partially charged state to retain the battery integrity at all times – sodium cells can be completely discharged to zero volts. This also means that you can use all the charge in a sodium ion cell in energy storage application without harming it, unlocking additional energy that isn’t possible with lithium.
Unlocking the potential
With a rapidly growing awareness and clamour for sodium technology, this market can keep growing to new heights with the right investment. At AMTE Power, we’re confident of this future. That’s why we’re working, in collaboration with Faradion, to scale up manufacture and supply of sodium-ion cells.