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Lithium-ion battery giant CATL unveils its first generation of sodium-ion batteries

Thu, 08/12/2021 - 16:42 -- paul Crompton

China battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) has unveiled its first-generation sodium-ion battery.

CATL has started its industrial deployment of sodium-ion batteries, and plans to form a basic industrial chain by 2023.

The announcement was made during CATL’s first online presentation event, Tech Zone, on 29 July, which included the launch its AB battery pack solution that integrates sodium-ion and lithium-ion cells into one pack.

CATL says its sodium-ion battery cell can achieve up to 160Wh/kg, and charge to 80% SOC at room temperature in 15 minutes. 

Its battery also has a capacity retention rate of more than 90%, and its system integration efficiency can reach more than 80% in -20°C environment, says the firm.

The company will target more than 200Wh/kg in its next generation of sodium-ion batteries.

CATL believes sodium-ion batteries will “provide a new solution for the use of clean energy and transportation electrification”.

Sodium-ion batteries work by shuttling sodium ions between the cathode and anode, but 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 industrialisation of sodium-ion batteries.

In its research and development of sodium-ion battery electrode materials, CATL applied Prussian white for the cathode material, and redesigned the bulk structure of the material by rearranging the electrons, which solved the issue of rapid capacity fading upon cycling. 

CATL has developed a hard carbon material for the anode, which features a porous structure that enables the abundant storage and fast movement of sodium ions, and increases cycle performance.

AB battery system

The AB battery system solution mixes and matches sodium-ion batteries and lithium-ion batteries in a certain proportion and integrates them into one battery system, and controls the different battery systems through the BMS precision algorithm. 

The AB battery system solution can compensate for the energy-density shortage of the sodium-ion battery, and also expands its advantages of high power and performance in low temperatures. 

At the Tech Zone event, Dr. Qisen Huang (pictured), deputy dean of the CATL Research Institute, said: “Sodium-ion battery manufacturing is perfectly compatible with the lithium-ion battery production equipment and processes, and the production lines can be rapidly switched to achieve a high-production capacity. 

“As of now, CATL has started its industrial deployment of sodium-ion batteries, and plans to form a basic industrial chain by 2023.” 

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