The green and low-carbon new energy industry is becoming the most important emerging industry in the world, but it also makes nickel, cobalt, lithium and other energy metals become extremely critical mineral resources, and the price is also rising, setting off a wave of price increases again and again. Taking lithium metal as an example, the price of lithium broke through imagination again some time ago, exceeding 600,000 yuan/ton.
During this period, its price still fluctuated around the 600,000 yuan mark. According to statistics, since the end of last year, the price of lithium has risen by 1057.7%, which has directly increased by more than 10 times, setting a record high. As the most critical raw material in power batteries, the price of lithium has skyrocketed, resulting in the continued high price of lithium batteries, which has threatened the healthy and sustainable development of the entire 5G network power supply industry.
But now, the turning point of lithium price seems to be coming. In recent days, the price of lithium carbonate has even dropped. Many capitals also believe that the era without “lithium” is about to pass, and all of this is because of sodium ions. Battery. Some time ago, Zhongke Haina’s world’s first GWh-level sodium-ion battery production line rolled off the production line, and the entire new energy company and power supply company refocused on sodium-ion batteries.
The main difference between sodium-ion batteries and lithium batteries is the difference between the charge carriers inside the batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are charged and discharged by moving and converting lithium ions between the positive and negative electrodes, while sodium-ion batteries are charged and discharged by sodium ions on the positive and negative electrodes. The insertion and extraction between the negative electrodes realize the charge transfer. In fact, the working principle of the two is the same, but due to the difference in materials, the price is very different.
Compared with lithium batteries, sodium-ion batteries have advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantage is low energy density. Take the Ningde era, which was the first to release sodium-ion batteries, as an example. On July 29, 2021, CATL, the global power battery giant, took the lead in officially releasing the first generation of sodium-ion batteries, with an energy density of only 160wh/kg, while CATL’s lithium iron phosphate energy density was 200wh/kg, and the energy density of ternary lithium batteries The density is 240wh/kg, and the energy density of the battery is low. With the same weight of the battery, the capacity of the sodium-ion battery is only 67% of that of the ternary lithium battery. For the application of 5G base station power supply, the capacity density of the sodium-ion battery is too low to occupy more use space.
In addition, the cycle life of sodium-ion batteries is short, the cycle life of lithium iron phosphate batteries is 6000 times, the cycle life of ternary lithium batteries is 3000 times, and the cycle life of sodium-ion batteries is only 1500 times.
But the above two shortcomings are flawed for sodium-ion batteries.
In terms of resources: the crustal abundance of sodium resources is 423 times that of lithium resources, and sodium resources are distributed all over the world, while the distribution of lithium resources is very uneven – 75% are distributed in the Americas, and the price of sodium resources is much higher than that of lithium resources. Far lower than lithium resources, only 1.33% of the latter. It is worth mentioning that sodium can be extracted from seawater, which is inexhaustible. No company can control this raw material, and its price is cheaper and more stable than lithium.
From a strategic point of view: the competition for resources is intensifying. Except for China, lithium mines are mainly distributed in South America, Australia and other countries and regions. There are too many uncontrollable factors, which can easily lead to energy crises and are easily stuck. Don’t worry about this problem at all.
In addition, in terms of power capabilities for fast charging, regenerative braking, and start-stop functions, as well as frequency adjustment functions in the grid sector, sodium-ion batteries that rely on open 3D structures perform quite well, only using the first battery released by CATL. As an alternative to sodium-ion batteries, charging for 15 minutes at room temperature can reach more than 80% of the power, and its low-temperature performance is far superior to current lithium batteries.
At the same time, due to the relatively soft chemical properties of Na, the possibility of dendrites and explosions at high charging rates is lower than that of lithium batteries, and the safety is also extremely high.
Through the pioneering AB battery system integration technology, Ningde Times has realized the mixing and matching of sodium and lithium, so that sodium-ion batteries can be applied to most battery usage scenarios, and the application prospects are very broad. It is reported that the sodium-ion batteries of the Ningde era will be industrialized in 2023. At that time, the price of lithium-ion battery modules for communication will also decrease with the growth of sodium-ion batteries, and the trend of skyrocketing prices will not be repeated. Let us wait and see the favorable form.