Current electric car batteries may soon be supplanted by new battery technology developed by Chinese giant CATL.
With the rise of electric vehicles, many detractors base their skepticism in particular on the batteries installed, which use the technologie lithium-ion to work.
Indeed, the latter are often put on the front of the stage when it comes to decrying the ecological aspect that represents the electric car. Often singled out, manufacturing is very expensive, in rare minerals for example, not very environmentally friendly, not to mention the fact that these are poorly recycled.
But criticism of lithium may soon be silent. the Chinese supplier CATL, which provides in particular Tesla, Daimler and Volkswagen, introduced a sodium-ion battery that many experts call a real breakthrough. The good news is, if this innovative technology pays off, we won’t have to wait decades for it. Mass delivery should start from 2023. For good reason, the technology is not new, the battery presented today is the result of years of research at a global level.
Its most important advantages can be summarized as follows: it is both more durable, cheaper, less flammable, more efficient in winter and faster to reload !
As its name suggests, the sodium forms the basis of this “new” battery. The anode is made entirely of carbon. Expensive and scarce raw materials such as lithium, cobalt, copper and nickel can therefore be omitted.
Sodium, on the other hand, which is used for this new type of battery, is much more abundant, easier to extract and less energy intensive to process. A good point when taking a CO2 balance.
Beyond the ecological and even economic aspect, the advantages of a sodium battery lie above all in the high thermal stability.
According to the world’s largest battery producer, this new accumulator presents an “excellent” discharge rate more than 90%, even at -20 degrees Celsius. Thanks to the good capacities of the multiplier, the charging performance decreases less than with lithium-ion. Finally, a sodium-ion battery is supposed to be able to be filled to 80% of its capacity in 15 minutes thanks to a fast charge.
The energy density of “only” 160 watt hours per kilogram is less advantageous. However, according to CATL, it should reach 200 Wh/kg in the second generation and thus surpass lithium-ion cells. It is nevertheless already sufficient for commercial use. The service life of sodium-ion batteries is 1000 cycles charge, which is comparable to lithium-ion batteries.
Costs could also be a decisive advantage. CATL says it aims for the equivalent of 25 to 35 euros per kilowatt hour (kWh) in mass production. Even though the selling price to the end consumer will be higher, the process should effectively reduce the overall cost of the battery. The most expensive component of an electric car.
As a reminder, the deployment of sodium-ion batteries has already started. CATL wishes to industrialize them on a large scale from 2023.
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