Swedish battery developer and manufacturer Northvolt and sodium-ion technology firm Altris have announced their first validated sodium-ion battery cell produced in Europe.
The announcement came on Tuesday in a move that the firm say could minimise dependence on Asian players.
Northvolt’s 1st generation sodium-ion cell has been validated for an energy density of more than 160Wh/kg and is designed primarily for energy storage. The company say the technology is intended to provide the foundation for next-generation energy storage solutions including electric mobility. Lithium batteries used in energy storage generally have an energy density of about 180Wh/Kg, whereas those used in EVs tend to be 250-300Wh/Kg.
The company claims the performance level, cost-efficiency, environmental factors and safety at high temperatures make the cell a competitive alternative to the dominant LFP and NMC energy storage chemistries, and confirm the suitability for the upcoming markets including India, Africa and the Middle East.
The cell is produced with minerals such as iron and sodium that are globally abundant. Based on a hard carbon anode and Prussian white-based cathode, the cell is free from nickel, lithium, cobalt and graphite. (Prussian white is a key component in sodium-ion batteries consisting of sodium, iron, carbon and nitrogen. It is a stable framework material with large pores, making it suitable for capture and storage of sodium ions. Altris developed a method to produce it in a form suitable as a positive electrode material.) Northvolt said they plan to be the first company to industrialise Prussian white- based batteries and bring them to commercial markets.
The technology can be produced with locally sourced materials which means regional manufacturing can be developed independently from traditional battery value chains.
How Northvolt’s technology compares to that of CATL (who revealed their first sodium iron cells in 2021) remains to be seen. CATL revealed that China’s Cherry will be the first automator to utilize its sodium-ion battery technology. By contrast to Northvolt, CATL are reportedly using oxides containing metals such as nickel, cobalt or manganese in their sodium-ion batteries, which could potentially increase both price and volatility at certain temperatures.
Northvolt hope to provide their first samples to customers in 2024 and reach full-scale production within a decade.