Natron Energy, a California-based sodium-ion battery company, will team up with battery manufacturer Clarios to mass-produce sodium-ion batteries in Michigan in 2023.
The sodium-ion battery is one of a new generation of batteries that has attracted a lot of attention after the lithium-ion battery. Its operation is similar to that of the lithium-ion battery. It relies on the movement of sodium ions between the positive electrode and the negative electrode. However, as the name suggests, the electrode material of the sodium-ion battery is mainly sodium salt, it does not require any lithium metal, and has excellent safety and life cycle.
With the increase in demand for consumer electronics, battery energy storage systems, and electric vehicles, the demand for lithium-ion batteries will naturally rise. It is known that the existing lithium reserves cannot meet the expected demand level of the electric vehicle market, not to mention other applications. Which will possibly leas to a shortage of lithium metal.
Therefore, the development of alternative batteries has attracted much attention. In recent years, there has been no shortage of research in sodium-ion batteries. For example, China's CATL launched sodium-ion batteries for the electric vehicle market in 2021 with a specific energy of 160Wh/kg, which is more than half the density of today's lithium-ion batteries. Natron's sodium-ion battery technology is based on the pigment "Prussian blue," with a power density between lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries. With fast charging, it can be charged from 0 to 99 times in 8 minutes and has a cycle life of more than 50,000 cycles. The team also claims it is extremely thermally stable, with no risk of fire.
However, because this power density is not enough for electric vehicles, Natron is targeting industrial batteries, such as backup power supplies for data centers, forklifts and other industrial vehicles, and telecommunications installations. Although applications do not include electric vehicle batteries, peripheral charging station batteries are one of the targets.
Natron is currently working with Clarios and is expected to introduce sodium-ion battery technology at the Clarios Meadowbrook, Michigan lithium-ion battery plant in 2023. Natros says sodium-ion batteries are made on the same equipment as lithium-ion batteries, so opting for a partnership model allows Natron to bring products to market faster and cheaper than building its own factory from scratch.
Once production begins, it will be the world's largest sodium-ion battery plant, Natron said. Since sodium-ion battery materials are cheap and readily available, pricing should be quite cost-effective.
(Image: Natron Energy)