As is well known, lithium-ion batteries have always been a very popular form of environmentally friendly energy, whereas sodium-ion batteries are potential sources of energy making a comeback into the public eye. What commonalities or differences exist between them? With your curiosity in tow, let’s explore this together.

What Is Lithium Ion Battery?

Perhaps you haven’t realized yet, but lithium-ion batteries have long been an integral part of our daily lives. They are a common type of rechargeable battery, primarily generating electricity through the movement of lithium ions within them. Research into lithium-ion batteries can be traced back to the 1960s.

 

Advantages Of Lithium Ion Battery

Long Cycle Life

Lithium-ion batteries have a cycle life of 3,000 to 8,000 cycles, with some manufacturers even managing to maintain a usable life of around 15 years.

High Energy Density

Lithium batteries have a considerable advantage in terms of energy density, so they are small in volume and light in weight.

No Memory Effect

Lithium-ion batteries do not suffer from the memory effect. Therefore, when you use them, you don’t need to fully discharge before recharging.

Environmentally Friendly

Lithium-ion batteries do not contain toxic heavy metals and do not cause environmental pollution.

Disadvantages Of Lithium Ion Battery

Cost Issues

Lithium resources are not abundant, and 70% of lithium is located in South America. With the rise in raw material prices, the production cost of lithium batteries also needs to be strictly controlled within a suitable range.

Safety Issues

Lithium-ion batteries must be equipped with a BMS (Battery Management System) because they are very sensitive to overcharging, over-discharging, and high temperatures, which can easily cause damage.

Operating Temperature Range

Lithium-ion batteries struggle to perform at their normal levels under extreme climate conditions. This is especially the case when using the batteries in cold regions, where their performance can be easily affected.

Application

Lithium-ion batteries play an important role in energy storage systems, electric vehicles, medical devices, emergency backup power supplies, and mobile devices.

What Is A Sodium Ion Battery?

Sodium-ion batteries are rechargeable batteries that charge and discharge through the movement of sodium ions between the positive and negative electrodes. This is very similar to the working principle of lithium-ion batteries. Due to the limited availability of lithium resources and the rising prices of lithium, sodium-ion batteries regained the interest of researchers in the early 2010s. After years of research, the performance of sodium-ion batteries has significantly improved, but they are still rapidly developing. There is still a way to go before sodium-ion batteries can be commercially produced on an industrial scale.

Advantages Of Sodium Ion Battery

Good Safety Performance

After rigorous testing by researchers, the safety performance of sodium-ion batteries is even higher than that of lithium-ion batteries, and they will never catch fire or explode easily.

Good Performance in High and Low Temperature 

Sodium-ion batteries have a wider operating temperature range. It can continue to discharge at -40℃ and maintain 90% of its capacity at minus -20℃. This is a very good data.

Abundant Raw Materials

The content of sodium resources in the earth’s crust is as high as 2.75%, and it covers the whole world. This will be a rare boost for the subsequent large-scale promotion of sodium batteries.

Cost Advantage

Abundant sodium resources reduce the raw material cost of sodium batteries to a certain extent. And the positive and negative fluids of sodium-ion batteries use cheaper aluminum foil. The combination of the two can reduce the material cost of sodium batteries by 30%-40%.

Environmentally Friendly

Sodium batteries, like lithium batteries, are environmentally friendly batteries and have very little impact on the environment.

Disadvantages Of Sodium Ion Battery

Low Energy Density

The energy density of sodium batteries is between 110-160Wh/L, which is slightly lower than that of lithium-ion batteries. There is still significant room for improvement.

Short Cycle Life

The cycle life of sodium-ion batteries is around 2000 cycles. Although this is much higher than that of lead-acid batteries, it will take some time to catch up with lithium-ion batteries.

Application

Sodium batteries have not yet been fully commercialized and are mainly used in cost-sensitive fields such as low-speed electric vehicles and grid energy storage.

Sodium Ion Battery Vs. Lithium Ion Battery

The advantages, disadvantages, and application scenarios of the two batteries are introduced above. Next, let’s make a more intuitive comparison.

Sodium Ion Battery VS. Lithium Ion Battery

Sodium Ion Battery VS. Lithium Ion Battery

Voltage

Sodium-ion battery: voltage range is 2.8~3.5V.

Lithium-ion battery: voltage range is 3.0~4.5V.

Energy Density

Sodium-ion batteries are between 100 and 150 Wh/kg. 

Lithium-ion batteries are between 150 and 250 Wh/kg. 

Although the energy density of sodium-ion batteries is slightly lower, it is expected to catch up with lithium-ion batteries within the next two years as technology advances.

Cycle Life

Sodium-ion battery: about 2000 times.

Lithium-ion battery: 3000 times and above, even up to 8000 times.

Low-temperature Performance

The low-temperature performance of sodium-ion batteries is better than that of lithium-ion batteries, and the discharge rate can still be maintained above 90% even at -20°C.

Rate Performance

Sodium-ion batteries are superior in rate performance. It can charge quickly, reaching 90% charge in 15 minutes.

Over-discharge

The BMS (Battery Management System) of lithium-ion batteries can prevent over-discharge, as over-discharge can cause irreversible damage to the battery.

Sodium-ion batteries allow discharge to 0V, and over-discharge does not have any effect on them.

Cost

Sodium-ion batteries do not use rare metals, and the raw materials are abundant. It is reported that the future cost of sodium-ion batteries is expected to be more than 20% lower than that of lithium batteries.

Safety Performance

Sodium-ion batteries have a wider safety margin and are able to withstand tests such as overcharging, over-discharging, short circuit, puncture, and compression without catching fire or exploding.

Applications

Lithium-ion batteries are used in a wide range of applications, from tiny wearable devices to large industrial uses.

Sodium-ion batteries, with their lower energy density and larger volume and weight, are not suitable for use in portable mobile devices. However, they are expected to become an important supplement in the field of energy storage batteries and in the low-speed electric vehicle sector.

Are Sodium-ion Batteries Better Than Lithium?

Based on the comprehensive analysis above, it is difficult to conclude which is better than the other, as each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Who is better depends on your or the market’s needs. For example, if you need a lower price, then sodium-ion batteries are cheaper. If you need energy with a longer lifespan, then lithium-ion batteries are more worthwhile.

Will Sodium-Ion Batteries Replace Lithium?

It is still difficult to conclude whether sodium batteries will replace lithium batteries in the future. Although sodium batteries have greater advantages in terms of cost, resources, and safety, further breakthroughs in energy density and charging/discharging performance are still required. With the further development of technology, sodium-ion batteries are not limited to specific fields and have a wider range of applications. Only then might it be possible to discuss the idea of replacement.