For years, lithium has been the central element in batteries for smartphones, electric cars and all kinds of electrical equipment that require a battery to function. However, getting this material has also been a problem in recent years, as demand and prices have grown considerably.
According to Reuters, it is expected that for the following year lithium supplies will be scarce, while in 2025 the demand for this material will triple compared to the demand generated in 2020.
The price of lithium ion batteries in the electric vehicle market has tripled so far in 2021 due to the increase in the sale of electric cars, which was much higher than expected.
For this reason, several manufacturers are looking for alternatives to lithium to create cheaper and more efficient batteries. Huawei and Samsung are working on graphene batteries for smartphones, which have been tested but do not yet have a release date on a commercial product.
On the other hand, there is CATL (Contemporary Amperex Technology Limited), a Chinese company that specializes in creating batteries for electric cars, and which has already presented its new sodium ion battery, which is not only more efficient and economical than batteries of lithium, but it can even charge much faster.
80% charge in just 15 minutes
CATL’s new sodium ion battery can fill 80% capacity in just 15 minutes. A speed that lithium-ion batteries are still not capable of reaching even with fast charging systems from different manufacturers.
The only downside (at the moment) is that their energy density is lower, so the batteries will be 160 Wh / kg, which is about 100Wh / kg less compared to most lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles.
However, a detail that draws attention is that these batteries will also solve one of the great problems of lithium; as they are capable of operating without problem in high and low temperatures.
According to CATL, these sodium batteries work in a similar way to lithium batteries. That is, the sodium ions move between the cathode and the anode, but compared to the lithium ions, the former have less volume and problems in terms of structural stability and kinetic properties.
When they will be available?
Manufacturers such as BMW, Tesla, Toyota or Volkswagen are some of CATL’s clients, and although no car with these sodium batteries has been announced so far, the Chinese company hopes to be able to manufacture them on a large scale by 2023.
Also, CATl said that sodium is the sixth most common element on the planet, which will undoubtedly make the cost of these batteries much lower compared to lithium, although it did not disclose the specific price.