EcoPro BM in Talks to Produce Sodium-Ion Battery Cathodes

EcoPro BM, a leading South Korean cathode material producer, is in discussions with a domestic carmaker to produce cathode materials for sodium-ion batteries. These batteries are emerging as a promising alternative to Lithium-ion batteries for Electric Vehicles.

Advancements in Sodium-ion Battery Cathodes

EcoPro BM’s technology chief, Lee Dongwook, revealed the company’s ongoing discussions. They are in talks with an undisclosed Korean carmaker to release EVs equipped with sodium-ion batteries. Lee mentioned,

“We’re in the completion stage for the cathode material development, and we will need to monitor the market conditions of EV batteries.” These batteries use sodium instead of lithium to generate electricity, offering several advantages.

Benefits of Sodium-Ion Batteries

Sodium-ion batteries are cost-competitive. They are considered a next-generation alternative to Lithium-ion phosphate (LFP) batteries, which are used in low-end EVs. Sodium is easier to obtain than lithium. It can be sourced from rock salts and brines found around the globe. Additionally, sodium-ion batteries do not deteriorate in performance even at low temperatures below minus 20 degrees Celsius, ensuring high stability.

Production Capabilities and Comparisons

EcoPro BM believes it has surpassed Chinese competitors in sodium cathode production technology. CATL, a Chinese battery manufacturer, has been producing sodium-ion batteries for Cherry Automobiles. However, EcoPro BM can produce cathode materials for sodium-ion batteries using the same production lines as those for Lithium-ion cathodes. This capability allows for a quicker production launch.

Despite their lower energy density compared to Lithium-ion batteries, Lee expressed confidence. He stated that the technology could reach the level of LFP batteries within one to two years. Domestic battery manufacturers have primarily focused on ternary batteries made of nickel, cobalt, and aluminum (NCA), or nickel, cobalt, and manganese (NCM). This focus has led them to lose ground to Chinese rivals in the LFP battery segment.

Future Developments in the Industry

POSCO Future M Co. is reportedly focusing on developing cathode materials for LMFP batteries by adding manganese to LFP. The ongoing evolution in battery technology continues to create new opportunities and challenges for industry players.

EcoPro BM’s advancements in Sodium-ion Battery technology underline a significant shift in the electric vehicle industry. As sodium-ion batteries become a viable alternative, they could reshape the landscape of EV batteries.

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