To limit climate change, countries and companies are increasingly committing to reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Achieving this goal could boost demand for new alternatives to existing ones, for instance, lithium-ion batteries, on a large scale.
Sodium-ion batteries could be a great alternative to lithium, but nobody has managed to build a commercially viable NA-ion battery so far. Now, a California company Natron has partnered with Clarios International to manufacture the world’s first mass-produced sodium-ion batteries.
Natron Energy’s sodium-ion battery products are based on a unique Prussian blue electrode chemistry for a wide variety of industrial power applications ranging from critical backup power systems to EV fast charging and behind-the-meter applications. Natron claims that its design offers a strong volumetric power density somewhere between that of lead-acid and lithium-ion, with super-fast charging enabling 0-99% charges in as little as eight minutes and a significantly longer cycle life of over 50,000 cycles – between five and 25 times greater than lithium-ion competitors. Also, they’re claimed to be extremely thermally stable, making them safe to transport, deploy and dispose of without risk of fire.
The Clarios Meadowbrook facility will become the world’s largest sodium-ion battery plant when mass production begins in 2023. Currently, these facilities are for lithium-ion batteries, and it says its sodium-ion batteries can be manufactured using the same tools and equipment.
With support from the U.S. Department of Energy’s ARPA-E agency through the SCALEUP program, Natron will install new cell assembly equipment in the Clarios Meadowbrook plant to enable mass production of sodium-ion cells for its customers in the industrial power market.
The company’s mission is to transform industrial and grid energy storage markets by providing customers with lower cost, longer-lasting, more efficient, safer batteries.
It is not the first time that this alternative has been used. Last year, the Chinese company CATL launched a sodium-ion battery for the electric vehicle market, with a specific energy of 160 Wh/kg, more than half of the density offered by current lithium batteries.