CATL will reveal its first sodium-ion battery tomorrow

CATL sodium-ion battery announcement event
CATL sodium-ion battery announcement event

Tomorrow the giant Chinese battery cell maker CATL will finally reveal its first sodium-ion battery (SIB).


SIBs are potentially much cheaper to produce than lithium-ion batteries (LIBs). Nonetheless, initially, with small-scale production the cost won’t be impressive, it will be roughly the same as current LFP (LiFePO4) cells that are more energy dense.


Estimated SIB costs per kWh

  • Small-scale production (MWh levels): 500 yuan (65 euros) per kWh
  • Large-scale production (GWh levels): 200-300 yuan (26-39 euros) per kWh



Moreover, initially the energy density won’t be impressive. It should be around 120 Wh/kg or 150 Wh/kg at best, which is decent for an ESS (Energy Storage System), but poor for electric vehicles.

It’s currently estimated that it’ll take around 2-3 years to reach large-scale production (GWh level) and maximize energy density to reach 200 Wh/kg with kWh cost below 30 euros.

With CTP (cell-to-pack) technology and a GCTP (gravimetric cell-to-pack) ratio of 90 %, if the battery cells reach 200 Wh/kg, the pack density could reach 180 Wh/kg, which is more than most EV battery packs have today. Sodium-ion battery cells are extremely safe and won’t burn or explode even if punctured, this allows to build very simple and cheap battery packs.

Imagine a SIB that has 70 kWh, weighs 389 kg and costs 1.820 euros. It would allow to build electric cars much cheaper than their ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) counterparts.


Hopefully, more battery cell makers will soon join CATL in the development of sodium-ion batteries to push this battery technology into maturity much faster than it’s currently expected.

The NAIMA project aims to develop sodium-ion batteries to be produced in Europe to prevent an expected monopoly of Asian companies. This 8 million euros project that began in December 2019 will end in November of next year.

We’ll see the results by then, but I think that the sodium-ion battery technology – that enables affordable electric transportation and renewable energy storage – deserves and requires much better funding from the European Union… 8 million euros for such an important EU project doesn’t seem very serious, I’m sure that China is investing a lot more.



More info:

Pedro Lima

My interest in electric transportation is mostly political. Iโ€™m tired of coups and wars for oil. My expectation is that the adoption of electric transportation will be a factor for peace and democracy all over the world.

22 Responses

  1. Julian says:

    Even with SIB technology available carmakers will find an excuse to keep overpricing electric cars.

    • Mike/Liverpool says:

      Its getting there, as i thought some years ago differant cars will have differant battery tec, ..2Is that a V8?……..will give way to is that solid state/

      • Mike/Liverpool says:

        The other thing is with SIB’s China might be much happy to export because they don’t “Lose” the Lituim when shipped oversea’s ……Just think The germans have an EV motor with no rare earths …..

        • Mike/Liverpool says:

          I wonder how Lituim sulphur is getting on?
          550 Wh/kg is the talk round the camp fire

  2. Rok says:

    Pedro, some time ago we talked about silicon replacing lithium that would lower the price and improve density. Are there any promising news for this chemistry?

    • Mike/Liverpool says:

      Any idea on Charge rate?

    • Pedro Lima says:

      Hi Rok. Silicon won’t replace lithium, it’ll gradually replace graphite in the anode.

      You can see SVOLT’s roadmap for cobalt-free battery cells below:

      NMx cathode with hybrid graphite/silicon anode: 275 Wh/kg (2022)
      LFP cathode with hybrid graphite/silicon anode: 230 Wh/kg (2023)

      • Rok says:

        My bad, misunderstood itsโ€™ role. Besides sodium, is there any other material that could replace lithium?

        • Famlin says:

          There is Aluminum air and Zin air battery.
          For now, just the Lithium ion in NMC & LFP formats and this will do for the current crop of plugin vehicles.
          As more vehicles come in, all these newer chemistries will also join.

          • Sams says:

            Hi Famlin, would you have a link that explains with simple words the different possible battery technologies and how they each work?

  3. Famlin says:

    Excellent news.
    Energy Storage is very important area with wind turbines generating more energy at night when power demand is low. Using SID for energy storage could not only the wind, but also excess hydro and nuclear power to be stored in battery to be used next day for powering air conditioners without resorting to peaker plants that typically use natgas or oil.

    In 2020, 758 TWh of power is generated from oil globally.

    • Marcel says:

      Yes, and SIB being used for storage then frees up LIB production for EVs, instead of a lot of LIB going into storage like with Teslaโ€™s energy division.

    • Jun says:

      Much safer and cheaper, better performance at low temperatures, fast charging, the main disadvantage is energy density, but it seems the first generation 160Wh/kg SIB with CTP technology is already good enough for EV.

  4. Famlin says:

    California, USA crosses 1 GW in energy storage. Battery takes place of natgas.

    No idea what sort of battery is used there. Pretty soon, LFP may gain ground in this area followed by SIB.

  5. Erik says:

    A very interesting development. The future looks bright! I do wonder the energy density looks usable for a number of applications. What is the power density like? Trying to get an idea of the charge/discharge capabilities.

  6. Chris says:

    Hi Pedro,

    first of all thx for the up to date battery news :). Do you have any informations about cycle life of SIBs? Im excited if they will match stationary requirements, but I heard the SEI is for this chemestry an hot topic. I did like to get your opinon an that.
    BR and have a great day

    • Pedro Lima says:

      Hi Chris.

      Check out the new article, in there you can find a comparison chart with LFP.

  7. diego says:

    Pedro, the presentation with english subtitles is now available here:
    The interesting part starts around 4:20

    Current cells have reached 160Wh/kg. The cells can be mixed and matched with LFP cells in the same pack/module.

    edit: also in youtube:

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