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CATL unveils breakthrough sodium-ion battery technology

CATL unveils breakthrough sodium-ion battery technology
Photo courtesy of CATL

Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., Ltd. (CATL) unveiled the company’s first-generation sodium-ion battery last week. CATL said it plans to set up a supply chain for the new technology in 2023.

China’s top car battery maker, which has a market valuation of almost USD200 billion, also unveiled a battery pack that integrates sodium-ion and lithium-ion batteries during the company’s first online launch event entitled “Tech Zone.”

Based on a series of innovations in the chemistry system, CATL’s first generation of sodium-ion batteries has the advantages of high-energy density, fast-charging capability, excellent thermal stability, great low-temperature performance and high-integration efficiency, among others. 

The energy density of CATL’s sodium-ion battery cell can achieve up to 160Wh/kg, and the battery can charge in 15 minutes to 80% SOC at room temperature. In a low-temperature environment of -20°C, the sodium-ion battery has a capacity retention rate of more than 90%, and its system integration efficiency can reach more than 80%. The sodium-ion batteries’ thermal stability exceeds the national safety requirements for traction batteries. 

The first generation of sodium-ion batteries can be used in various transportation electrification scenarios, especially in regions with extremely low temperatures, where its outstanding advantages become obvious. According to CATL, it can be adapted to the application needs of all scenarios in the energy storage field.

The sodium-ion battery has a similar working principle to the lithium-ion battery. Sodium ions also shuttle between the cathode and anode. However, compared with lithium ions, sodium ions have a larger volume and higher requirements regarding structural stability and the kinetic properties of materials. This has become a bottleneck for the industrialization of sodium-ion batteries.

CATL has focused on the research and development of sodium-ion battery electrode materials for many years. In terms of cathode materials, CATL has applied Prussian white material with a higher specific capacity and redesigned the bulk structure of the material by rearranging the electrons, which solved the worldwide problem of rapid capacity fading upon material cycling. In terms of anode materials, CATL has developed a hard carbon material that features a unique porous structure, which enables the abundant storage and fast movement of sodium ions, and also an outstanding cycle performance.