Battery developer Faradion will partner UK-based lithium-ion cell developer and manufacturer AGM Batteries to produce sodium-ion technology.
The joint R&D partnership is the first step in English firm Faradion’s plans to scale up production of its sodium-ion batteries at AGM Batteries’ 4,000 m2 production facility in Caithness, Scotland.
Domestic energy storage systems with a 2-10kW/h capacity will be the first commercial market for the technology, with automotive, grid storage and defence potential additional applications.
Francis Massin, CEO of Faradion, said the firm was in discussions with potential suppliers on cost, and expected to have the technology at around $250kW/h within two years.
At that price the technology is comparable with lithium-ion, while boasting safety aspects such as having a higher thermal runaway on-set temperature, and being able to be shipped at 0% state of charge.
But not all of the industry is convinced, with delegates at the recent AABC event voicing concerns that new chemistries did not stand a chance of penetrating the markets for another decade.
“Faradion is about 3-4 years ahead of everybody else; we have covered a large space with our IP and I feel very comfortable about where we are and the future of Faradion,” said Massin.
“We have done some excellent research and development, which shows the technology is viable from a performance perspective, and comparable with lithium-ion.
“The performance of the first generation is good enough to go to market. The next step is to show scalability and get the same performance, and we even expect to see further improvements at larger scales because when cells are handmade in the laboratory it is difficult to achieve the same reproducibility as you can achieve in the manufacturing plant facility.
“And of course we will continue to develop the next generation material for higher performance cells.”
AGM Batteries has produced high-quality lithium-ion batteries for a number of industries, including defence, since 1997, and currently produces rechargeable and non-rechargeable cylindrical and pouch cells at its facility.
AGM Batteries CEO Kevin Brundish said: “AGM has developed significant experience in the later phases of developing and commercialising battery technologies, and the partnership with Faradion offers the opportunity for us to take a sodium-ion technology to key markets.
“The partnership blends the experience of the technology developer along with a flexible manufacturer; a fairly unique combination, certainly within the UK and Europe.”