CATL leads EV battery production and SIBs have its attention

CATL is researching sodium-ion batteries to deliver sustainable power systems for electric vehicles (EVs) to reduce the cost and minimise industry impact

There are two key factors governing electric vehicle (EV) batteries today. The first one is cost: how do manufacturers build their batteries in the cheapest way possible to reduce the cost to the end consumer when buying an electric car? 

The second is the inevitable point about sustainability, which is that companies should be looking to produce more circular components without adding any more emissions to the atmosphere than is absolutely necessary. 

Until now, lithium-ion batteries circulated the industry and provided the necessary power systems for cars, but at an incredible cost. Not only does this raise questions about whether EV batteries are truly sustainable, but it also hinders the majority of the population from ever seeing themselves in an electric car. Alternatively, they’ll snap up the oldest EVs available through second-hand car markets. 

There are a number of factors that explain why battery innovation remains a priority for the industry alongside charging infrastructure as organisations look to extend the ranges of their cars and reduce the sizes of their battery packs. 

Solid-state EV batteries are key, but what about Sodium-ion?

Recognised by the leading organisation in this field, Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited (CATL), sodium-ion batteries (SIBs) could bolster the need for cheaper and less intensive batteries for cars. The technology is one that caught the attention of the business this year with BYD also taking a peak at these solutions for its cars. 

This is nothing new for CATL, which recognised the potential for SIBs back in 2021—before major milestones were met with the solid-state battery (SSB). Not only is a sodium cathode material cheaper to source, it is always one already in abundance with established supply chains for inevitable consumption. Therefore, the idea of a ‘salt battery’ seems to be a no-brainer with the resources already available, but the technology is only just making its way into product lines. 

Sodium-ion batteries versus solid-state density 

The SSB is still a desirable solution. While SIBs provide a rapid solution to reduce the amount of lithium required by the automotive industry, SSBs are the new generation power systems with higher energy density and longer product life.

SSBs will typically use titanates, lithium alloy, phosphates and vanadium oxide to deliver more energy density and allow manufacturers to reduce the sizes of their batteries without compromising on energy storage and delivery. Therefore, the SSB is seen as a necessary innovation for longer range vehicles and could see single-charge mileage reach the thousands of kilometres desired by a number of sceptical consumers. 

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