CATL reveals its first generation sodium-ion battery

CATL first-generation sodium-ion battery
CATL first-generation sodium-ion battery

Today the giant Chinese battery cell maker CATL revealed its first generation sodium-ion battery and it’s better than I expected.

 

Let’s see some highlights of the press release.

 

Based on a series of innovations in the chemistry system, CATL’s first generation of sodium-ion batteries has the advantages of high-energy density, fast-charging capability, excellent thermal stability, great low-temperature performance and high-integration efficiency, among others.

The energy density of CATL’s sodium-ion battery cell can achieve up to 160Wh/kg, and the battery can charge in 15 minutes to 80% SOC at room temperature.

Moreover, in a low-temperature environment of -20°C, the sodium-ion battery has a capacity retention rate of more than 90%, and its system integration efficiency can reach more than 80%.

The sodium-ion batteries’ thermal stability exceeds the national safety requirements for traction batteries. The first generation of sodium-ion batteries can be used in various transportation electrification scenarios, especially in regions with extremely low temperatures, where its outstanding advantages become obvious. Also, it can be flexibly adapted to the application needs of all scenarios in the energy storage field.

The next generation of sodium-ion batteries’ energy density development target is to exceed 200Wh/kg.

At the event, Dr. Qisen Huang, deputy dean of the CATL Research Institute, said that 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. CATL invites upstream suppliers and downstream customers, as well as research institutions to jointly accelerate the promotion and development of sodium-ion batteries.

 

CATL first-generation sodium-ion battery compared to LFP (LiFePO4)

CATL first-generation sodium-ion battery compared to LFP (LiFePO4)

 

CATL sodium-ion battery (SIB) specs

  • Energy-density: 160 Wh/kg
  • Fast charging: 80 % in 15 minutes
  • Capacity retention at low temperatures: above 90 % at -20º C

 

I was expecting that at best the first generation would have a gravimetric energy density of 150 Wh/kg. However, with battery cells that achieve an energy density of 160 Wh/kg, if combined with CTP (cell-to-pack) technology, module-less battery packs can reach 144 Wh/kg, which make this first generation SIB not only adequate for energy storage systems (ESSs), but also for electric vehicles.

Now the goal is to surpass 200 Wh/kg in the next generation.

Moreover, the performance at low temperatures is impressive, for example the NCM 622 battery cells from LG used in the old generation Renault ZOE ZE 40 only retain 60,2 % of their capacity at -20º C.

 

Anyway, at first, sodium-ion batteries will be mostly used in energy storage systems and it’ll still be extremely positive for electric vehicles, because more lithium will become available to build energy-dense EV batteries.

Soon, EV fast charging stations will have batteries to serve as buffers and keep the electrical grid more stable, SIBs seem perfect for the job. Tesla should definitely consider this battery technology to build its Megapack.

As I understand it, CATL sodium-ion batteries are now only available for big industrial projects, like megapacks. By 2023 they’ll become available to any OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer).

 

 

 

More info:

https://www.catl.com/en/news/665.html

https://cnevpost.com/2021/07/29/catl-unveils-first-gen-sodium-ion-battery-with-energy-density-of-160wh-kg/

Pedro Lima

My interest in electric transportation is mostly political. I’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.

28 Responses

  1. Leonid says:

    Thanks Pedro for the coverage, a question – why do you assume this chemistry to first enter into the ESS market and not EV? I was under the impression that CATL introduced all these properties in order to compete with current EV technology. Thanks

    • Pedro Lima says:

      Hi Leonid.

      I think that the best strategy is to start using SIBs in big energy storage system projects like this one:

      https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202106/1227249.shtml

      It’s easier to monitor and test a new technology with big projects and few clients. EVs should come next, once the technology prove its maturity.

      • Leonid says:

        Yes, thanks, know this Na ion ESS installation. I understand your logic. Let’s see how things will evolve. By the way, any time estimation for this to start rolling out from CATLs factories?

        • Pedro Lima says:

          As I understand it, the sodium-ion batteries are now only available for big industrial projects, like megapacks. In 2023 they’ll become available to any OEM.

      • Jun says:

        CATL seems also plan to use SIB in EV by introducing a hybrid system of sodium-ion batteries and lithium-ion batteries.

    • Mike/Liverpool says:

      Delighted to see you 110% on the ball Pedro……………..the only thing that made me sad was they not in production to 2023?

      china will be totally happy to export ANYWHERE.

      Did i understand right they “Mix” these cells with Lituim ion to boost the wh/kg?

      Also i read some where the power pack on the Golf E was only 100 wh/kg…..this leaves it standing!

      oh & the BIG question……..HOW MUCH? (No one will do it cheaper than china).

      Cheers
      Mike

      • Pedro Lima says:

        I think that the “AB battery system solution” is a hybrid battery pack made with sodium-ion and lithium-ion battery cells.

        As I understand it, the sodium-ion batteries are now only available for big industrial projects, like megapacks. In 2023 they’ll become available to any OEM.

  2. Apkungen says:

    This battery could at 140 wh/kg mean 70 kWh in a Tesla model 3. More than enough for my needs. I have 50 kWh right now which to me is sufficient.

    • Mike/Liverpool says:

      I wonder how many cycles?

      • Pedro Lima says:

        The life cycle seems comparable to LFP.

        https://youtu.be/LxKtCquWx5c?t=461

        • sola says:

          Specific cycle life numbers would be nice to have and I didn’t get any from the video.

          I suspect that cycle life is closer to NCM (<1K) than LFP (>5K), otherwise they would have advertised it more in the press meter.

          This article says, it is only 1,5K: https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202107/1230038.shtml

          What’s more, sodium-ion batteries only have a maximum of 1,500 cycles, which is less than the 6,000 cycles offered by lithium iron phosphate technology or the 3,000 cycles of ternary lithium batteries, Zhang said.”

          • Jun says:

            That’s a general background description of sodium-ion batteries by an auto industry analyst, not refer to CATL’s SIB.

  3. Famlin says:

    We would like to see the SIB at work. Wondering how much will it cost.
    I believe the 160 wh / kg is for Sodium / Lithium hybrid which is also a very good concept.

    Sodium battery will transform energy storage soon which is a very important area.

    • dipole says:

      If these can charge to 80% so quickly and don’t need complicated heating cooling circuits the battery packs can afford to be smaller(despite lowish Wh/Kg) and simpler e.g. fit under the seats like in the PSA e-CMP platform. Based on my experience of e-208 fast charging which is still only half as fast charging as these batteries I’d be quite happy with a 320km WLTP range knowing that I can charge up to 80% in 15 minutes. Manufacturers then have a choice of cheap tech battery packs of low capacity with fast charging or monster sized expensive tech battery packs. I myself prefer the original Ioniq/PSA approach to the problem which is to charge every 80 to 90 minutes on a long trip with a smaller battery pack.

  4. Famlin says:

    Here are the atomic # of various battery elements.
    Lead: 82
    Nickel: 28
    Lithium: 3
    Sodium: 11

    Different batteries for different apps. Sodium is lot more abundant element as its found in ocean thru common salt.

  5. Maximilian Holland says:

    Great news.
    I previously had the impression that it will take a while (1-2 years) for CATL to get to NA-ion to commercial scale at this performance level, but I admit I haven’t looked deeply at the timeline.

    https://twitter.com/DKurac/status/1402854199080099841

    Anyway, 160 Wh/kg is very impressive for the first generation. Certainly – with reduced packaging needs – urban trucks and buses could make good use of this already, and BEV applications are also possible.

  6. Rok says:

    Very interesting news. While I was reading through it, I got an idea: a while ago I saw a video (I think Transport Evolved) with an EV shop where they put almost new batteries from crashed new Leafs into old ones. You can practically upgrade you 10 year old Leaf to 62kWh battery. Supposedly, sodium batteries will not need as much TMS protection as NCM need, this batteries would be great replacements for EVs that will need to replace their batteries in 5 years time. How feasible do you think this is? Probably some rework on a cars’ floor will be needed.

    • Pedro Lima says:

      That actually makes sense.

      However, it would be easier if the Nissan LEAF had a flat battery pack like a VW ID.3.

      To fit in a non-flat battery pack, small cells are probably required.

      Fortunately, it seems that CATL will produce sodium-ion cells in prismatic and cylindrical formats.

      The small cylindrical cells will fit in basically any EV battery pack. They seem perfect to upgrade old battery packs.

  7. woots says:

    “Revealed” -but I couldn’t find if it is going into production, when it would be available on the market?

  8. yoyo says:

    Looks simply awesome…
    How much would the Wuling Hong Guang MINI EV cost with these in giga production??

    Any idea how these would compare to lithium batteries in recyclability and toxicity??

    The world cannot rid itself off ICE fast enough and it looks more and more like even 2030 is too late…

    Yes 8 million is chump change for tech this important and even more so the world needs a Manhattan Project for CO2 sequestering…

    • Mike/Liverpool says:

      Wait !
      160 wh/kg IF mixed with other MORE powerful battery?
      So what is the real wh/kg?

  9. Famlin says:

    If they did not reveal the shape & size, that means its few month or even 1 year away from production. Until then LFP should be good for storage.
    Even after entering production, it will be expensive until volume production is reached.
     

    • diego says:

      They plan to mix and match them with their LFP cells in one pack, so can we assume same shapes and sizes as their LFP prismatic cells?

  10. János says:

    Pedro, I found this on Irizar i2e energy storage system here on page 11:
    https://www.irizar.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Irizar-i2e_eng.pdf

    “It uses batteries with Sodium Nickel technology which have a maximum capacity
    of 376kWh. In addition, the batteries have 10 years’ working life as a power supply
    system and are 99% recyclable”

    on page 29:
    Batteries Sodium Nickel technology
    Nominal voltage: 600V/650V
    Total capacity: 282-376 kWh depending on the number of batteries”

    Do you have info on
    -the difference between Irizar and CATL batteries,
    -the gravimetric energy density of the Spanish product
    -fire safety performance of i2e batteries?

    Thanks!

  11. Ferenc Tóth says:

    Do we know anything about the volumetric energy density? It seems to me that for Sodium-Ion batteries there will be the bottleneck.
    Li-FUN will have a 240-280 Wh/L: https://pushevs.com/2022/05/04/li-fun-technology-will-mass-produce-sodium-ion-batteries-in-2023/
    BYD Blade 3.0 LFP has 448 Wh/L : https://pushevs.com/2021/08/10/this-is-why-byd-blade-battery-is-ahead-of-competition/
    240/448 == 53.57 %.
    It is strange that CATL did not talk about this. Although if I am right, I understand now. This is why they need the Hybrid (AB) batteries. These hybrid batteries can be a good solution though. Immidiate hot start with SiB and LiB can heat up in the meantime (some or maybe all heat will come from SiB as they are discharged).

  12. Ferenc Tóth says:

    Do we know anything about the volumetric energy density? It seems to me that for Sodium-Ion batteries there will be the bottleneck.
    Li-FUN will have a 240-280 Wh/L: https://pushevs.com/2022/05/04/li-fun-technology-will-mass-produce-sodium-ion-batteries-in-2023/
    BYD Blade 3.0 LFP has 448 Wh/L : https://pushevs.com/2021/08/10/this-is-why-byd-blade-battery-is-ahead-of-competition/
    240/448 == 53.57 %.
    It is strange that CATL did not talk about this. Although if I am right, I understand now. This is why they need the Hybrid (AB) batteries. These hybrid batteries can be a good solution though. Immidiate hot start with SiB and LiB can heat up in the meantime (some or maybe all heat will come from SiB as they are discharged).

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