Battery giants are starting to put their money on new sodium-based technology, a sign that there could be yet another shakeup in the industry that’s crucial for the energy transition.
Sodium — found in rock salts and brines around the globe — has the potential to make inroads into energy storage and electric vehicles because it’s cheaper and far more abundant than lithium, which currently dominates batteries. But while chemically and structurally similar, sodium has yet to be used on a large scale, partly due to the better range and performance of similarly sized lithium cells.
That could be about to change. In the past week, Sweden’s Northvolt said it made a breakthrough with the technology, while Chinese EV maker BYD signed a deal to build a $1.4 billion sodium-ion battery plant. China’s CATL already said in April that its sodium-based batteries will be used in some vehicles from this year.