Sodium-Ion Cell Characteristics

Sodium-ion cells are in the very early stages of mass production, with the first commercial systems being available for purchase in 2023. Some typical characteristics of sodium-ion cells include:

  • An energy density of 100 to 160 Wh/kg and 290Wh/L at cell level.
  • A voltage range of 1.5 to 4.3V. Note that cells can be discharged down to 0V and shipped at 0V, increasing safety during shipping.
  • 20-30% lower cell BOM cost than LFP.
  • A wider operating temperature than lithium-ion cells (-20°C to +60°C).
  • Typical Energy efficiency 92% at C/5.

The table below provides an overview of some of the companies working around Sodium-ion battery production, and details of their chosen cell designs:

Note that a number of cell specifications are now quoting operation down to -40°C.

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Sodium-Ion battery

Sodium-ion batteries operate analogously to lithium-ion batteries, with both chemistries relying on the intercalation of ions between host structures. In addition, sodium based cell construction is almost identical with those of the commercially widespread lithium-ion battery types. However, sodium-ion batteries are characterised by several fundamental differences with lithium-ion, bringing both advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages:

  • Environmental abundance: Sodium is over 1000 times more abundant than lithium and more evenly distributed worldwide.
  • Safety: Sodium-ion cells can be discharged to 0V for transport, avoiding thermal run-away hazards which have plagued lithium-ion batteries.
  • Low cost: Sodium precursors (such as Na2CO3) are far cheaper than the equivalent lithium compounds.
  • Three major families of materials for cathode chemistry options:
    • layered transition metal oxides
    • polyanionic compounds
    • prussian blue analogs
  • Cathode materials can be synthesized from more sustainable transition metals such as Fe, Cu or Mn.

Disadvantages:

  • Sodium-ion cells have lower energy densities than lithium-ion. This is due to sodium being significantly heavier and larger than lithium, as well as Na+/Na having a higher reduction potential than Li+/Li.
  • Sodium-ion technology is not as well established as lithium-ion.

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