Last updated: 06.12.2023, 04:58 a.m.
By: Patrick Freiwah
A new battery technology could revolutionize the e-mobility spectrum in several ways (symbolic image). © Action Pictures/IMAGO
The breakthrough seems to have been achieved in sodium-ion batteries: The new battery technology promises to revolutionize the spectrum of e-mobility in several respects.
Stockholm/Munich - This leap in development could take the electric age to a new level: Northvolt announced the breakthrough of a new battery technology that solves several problems of e-mobility and in particular electricity storage.
The Swedish battery manufacturer presented a sodium-ion battery that promises far-reaching consequences for the future: reducing the use of rare raw materials and also making production costs lower than is currently the case. The battery cell, which was developed with research partner Altris, has a peak energy density of over 160 watt hours per kilogram and is free of the mineral resources lithium, nickel, cobalt and graphite.
New battery technology from Northvolt is more sustainable and cheaper
Another advantage of the new battery technology is that it is safer, more cost-effective and more sustainable than conventional batteries, which use lithium in their production. At the presentation, Northvolt CEO Peter Carlsson was pleased that it had been possible to develop a technology that enables "broad use to accelerate the energy transition". According to the information, the Northvolt development is based on an anode (positive pole) made of hard carbon and a cathode (negative pole) made of so-called Prussian white, an iron-based complex.
Northvolt wants to be the first company to industrially produce such batteries and bring them to market, although the timing is still open. There is also a geopolitical component: another effect would be that the new form of composition would also reduce dependence on China.
However, the Chinese battery manufacturer CATL is also working on the innovative salt battery and already presented similar sodium-ion batteries in 2021. Until now, however, it has not been possible to reach the range of lithium-ion batteries, which is particularly crucial when used in electric cars. In the spring, the company from China said its sodium-ion batteries would be used in models of the carmaker Chery.
Sodium-ion battery: Energy density still lags behind
Sodium is available worldwide as a component of seawater and rock salt and is cheaper than lithium. According to Northvolt, the cost of generation and safety at high temperatures make battery technology particularly attractive for emerging markets such as India, the Middle East and Africa. Sodium-ion batteries therefore also offer great opportunities for electric cars in the medium term.
A sticking point in the envisaged mass production is the energy density, which indicates how long a device can be used before the energy storage system has to be charged: The new technology enables cost reductions, but so far with lower energy density. According to Northvolt, the peak values of the new achievement are over 160 watt hours per kilogram. By way of comparison, lithium-ion batteries have an energy density of over 250 watt-hours per kilogram.
A lot is currently happening in the field of battery technology: Recently, a US company related to VW also announced a groundbreaking development step:
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Battery factory in Germany? Northvolt struggles for subsidies
Meanwhile, the new battery technology could also emerge in Germany: The Swedish company recently called on the federal government to quickly clear the way for state financial aid for a planned battery factory in Schleswig-Holstein (Heide). Christofer Haux, managing director of Germany, recently told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung: "We have no reason to doubt the existing promises made to us by the German government, but it is also clear that we are not talking about weeks or months when it comes to finding a solution." However, the man could be mistaken:
As the paper explains, it is about state financial aid of 550 million euros, which was previously supposed to come from the climate transformation fund. However, after the budget ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court and the huge hole in the financial coffers, it is unclear to what extent the money can actually be provided. (PF with material from AFP and dpa)