Sodium-ion batteries could be the key to making Electric Vehicles (EVs) more affordable. With the climate crisis looming, the shift from petrol and diesel cars to renewable alternatives is crucial. EVs, powered by renewable electricity, are the most viable option. They store and release energy efficiently and can be recharged thousands of times. However, the high cost of Lithium-ion batteries, currently the best performing battery technology, is a significant hurdle.
Sodium-ion vs Lithium-ion
Batteries function like a sandwich, with two electrodes (the cathode and anode) containing an electrolyte filling. During recharging, ions move towards the anode and are stored until needed. Lithium is the preferred element due to its small, light ions that can be packed tightly inside the electrodes, enabling quick charging. However, sodium, sharing many chemical properties with lithium, is a close second. Sodium is 1,000 times more abundant on Earth than lithium, making sodium-ion batteries a potentially cheaper alternative.
Cost Benefits of Sodium-ion Batteries
Recent innovations have made sodium batteries competitive with some Lithium-ion systems. Sodium-ion batteries using layered oxide cathodes can deliver cheaper EVs with a range of 150-250 miles. The latest Sodium-ion Battery packs can even undercut the cost of lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries due to their cheaper raw materials. This makes sodium-ion technology ideal for low-cost EVs, particularly for commuters and city drivers.
The Future of Sodium-ion EVs
There is still room to improve the energy density of sodium-ion batteries. Research is ongoing to develop new cathode materials that can store more sodium ions and deliver a higher voltage output, leading to improved EV driving ranges. Sodium-ion batteries are now entering the EV market, and their competition with shorter-range lithium batteries will depend on economic factors and advances in materials science.
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