We try turning over a new or probably a greener leaf when we switch to an electric vehicle. According to a study by the International Energy Agency, EV sales in 2021 were nearly ten percent of the global car sales. Not only did the sales take a hike, but the available variants and the availability of the raw materials for their battery did.
Therefore, it was time to look at other alternatives for batteries for EVs. Lithium alone couldn’t meet the rising demand. Therefore, a shift to a less mineral-intensive option became necessary. So, can sodium ion batteries be used in electric vehicles? Here, we look at that very question in detail.
What are sodium-ion batteries?
Sodium-ion batteries are a type of rechargeable battery whose electrolyte is composed primarily of sodium ions, which conduct an electrical charge. In other words, these use sodium ions instead of lithium ions.
However, the basic working principles behind the two are the same. What makes the usage of sodium ions in the batteries of electric vehicles lucrative is its abundance and cost-effectiveness compared to the lithium counterpart.
What is the difference between sodium and lithium-ion batteries?
The electrolytes used in these batteries are the primary difference between these two. For instance, the lithium ions move from the cathode to the anode when lithium batteries are charged through the electrolyte. As a result, charge balance is attained, whereas discharge is the exact opposite.
However, in sodium batteries, after they are charged through a liquid electrolyte, sodium ions move from the sodium-iron cathode to the carbon anode.
What are the disadvantages of lithium-ion batteries?
The scarcity of lithium metal is the major reason to explore other alternatives for EV batteries. Meeting the high demand for electric vehicles means a high need for lithium. Lithium is not an abundant element. As a result, lithium becomes costlier, similar to metals like cobalt and nickel used for battery production.
Similarly, considering sustainability, lithium mining demands large quantities of groundwater, which adds to the existing climate and water crisis.
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Are sodium-ion batteries preferred in electric vehicles?
When we look in detail, both the batteries are similar in make and working of these batteries. However, there are several reasons for the potential use of sodium batteries in electric vehicles.
- Readily available; therefore, less expensive.
- Works well in colder climates
- Lesser chance of experiencing thermal runaways.
- Easier to recycle.
- Greener and accessible
However, there are some drawbacks to using sodium ions in the batteries of electric vehicles.
Firstly, sodium-ion batteries are bulkier since the element is heavier by weight. Secondly, the cycle life of a sodium-ion battery is three times less than that of a lithium-ion battery. Thirdly, they are more chemically active than lithium; therefore, the amount of water and oxygen in an experimental setting must be strictly controlled.
Are sodium batteries expensive?
Compared to the cost of Li-ion batteries, the cost of Na-ion batteries is significantly lower. The cost of Na-ion batteries is approximately $40 per kWh, while the cost of Li-ion batteries is approximately $137 per kWh.
How Much Does an Electric Car Battery Cost?
Can you use sodium-ion batteries in electric vehicles?
Yes, sodium batteries can be used in electric vehicles. However, the industrialization of sodium batteries for EVs will take more time. For example, the improvement of the cycle life of sodium batteries is crucial before they can be put to commercial use. Therefore, though it is possible, it looks like there is a long way to go before manufacturers switch to sodium batteries and make EVs an absolute green choice.
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