China’s revolutionary sodium EV battery

China Changed the Future of EVs with New Generation Sodium-Ion Batteries

China is leading the way with research and development of sodium-ion batteries, which are safer and potentially cheaper than lithium-ion batteries.

The newest and more eco-friendly alternative is coming from China from the world’s largest EV battery producer – Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited (CATL), in the form of its latest ‘hybrid’ sodium-ion batteries. 

CATL began investing in sodium-ion batteries several years ago, and launched its first version in July 2021, and began producing the batteries for an industrial supply chain in 2023.

Electrify News explains that sodium-ion batteries function the same way as lithium-ion batteries. They both create electricity through the chemical reactions occurring between the anode, cathode, and electrolyte. Rather than using lithium ions, sodium ions move through the electrolyte. 

For decades, industries have used sodium-ion batteries, but they haven’t been considered for EVs because they don’t provide the same range as their lithium-ion counterparts. However, manufacturers are taking a second look because sodium battery technology is less expensive than lithium-ion tech. 

Sodium and lithium have similar qualities, but sodium is more abundant. It’s easier to source than the costly procedure of mining lithium.

Lithium-ion batteries require expensive raw materials like cobalt, copper, and lithium. These materials often require mining in eco-sensitive areas. Sodium-ion batteries do not require the same raw materials, so they are less expensive to manufacture. While it’s possible to recycle lithium-ion batteries, it’s much easier to recycle sodium-ion batteries making them a reliable source of energy for generations. 

Lithium currently costs over $80,000 per metric ton, while sodium is under $300 per metric ton. Unfortunately, Sodium-ion batteries do not have the same energy reserves as Lithium-ion batteries – that is up until CATL’s technology breakthrough. Sodium batteries have struggled to support energy performance needed for EVs. However, Lithium-ion batteries can have “thermal runaway’ which can cause the batteries to catch fire. Sodium-ion batteries do not do this, which is one reason why Chinese and other manufacturers are dedicated to developing this product. 

Watch the attached video (8:27 min) from the Electric Viking website.