Sweden’s Northvolt unveils new sodium-ion cell expertise amid EV demand surge

Swedish battery maker Northvolt has developed a brand new sodium-ion cell expertise and will ramp up manufacturing of batteries within the subsequent few years.

The demand for essential minerals reminiscent of lithium, cobalt and platinum has surged lately as electrical autos (EV) turn out to be more and more widespread, prompting automotive producers and battery makers to search for alternate options.

Northvolt’s sodium-ion batteries don’t comprise lithium, cobalt and platinum, which may pose price and environmental challenges.

“Sodium-ion batteries will not be new … it’s been talked [about] and being developed for a time frame,” Peter Carlsson, Northvolt’s chief govt, instructed The Nationwide.

“However what now we have managed to attain with this product … it’s actually excessive efficiency and the best power density to this point that now we have seen available on the market.”

Northvolt’s sodium-ion cell has an power density of 160-watt hour / kilogram (Wh/kg), in comparison with lithium-ion battery’s 180–250 Wh/kg.

A high-energy-density battery lasts longer and delivers the identical power in a smaller footprint in comparison with a lower-energy-density battery.

The corporate will interact in additional product improvement and in defining an “environment friendly” manufacturing blueprint as the brand new batteries can be manufactured in Northvolt’s present factories, Mr Carlsson mentioned.

Northvolt might ramp up the manufacturing of the batteries within the subsequent few years following the completion of the event part, he mentioned.

“If you happen to take a 10-year perspective, I believe this has the chance to, quantity clever, be as large because the [company’s] present portfolio of high-performance nickel batteries [and] probably much more,” he mentioned.

Northvolt, which principally provides lithium-ion batteries to automotive makers, is getting ready for an preliminary public providing in Stockholm that might worth the corporate at greater than $20 billion, Reuters reported earlier this yr, citing sources.

It has secured greater than $55 billion value of orders from clients reminiscent of BMW, Scania, Volvo and Volkswagen.

Sodium-ion cell can be extra warmth resistant than lithium-ion batteries, making it excellent for sensible grids in giant cities as properly utility-scale photo voltaic tasks, Mr Carlsson mentioned.

That additionally means Northvolt might provide its batteries to international locations within the Center East and North Africa area, dwelling to many giant renewable power vegetation.

“I believe it [sodium-ion cell] opens up enlargement for each constructing manufacturing capability in addition to bigger deployments within the area and we’re simply beginning conversations round this,” Mr Carlsson mentioned.

“Within the mild of the large aspirations within the area in direction of inexperienced transition, we predict it’s a very attention-grabbing market.”

GCC international locations have been investing closely in renewable power and sustainable improvement in a bid to diversify away from hydrocarbon exports.

The UAE, the primary nation within the Mena area to announce a goal of internet zero by 2050, has been funding clear power tasks, together with photo voltaic and wind, because it cuts down on using pure fuel for electrical energy manufacturing.

Saudi Arabia, which plans to attain net-zero carbon emissions by 2060, is focusing closely on constructing its home EV market to help the transition and develop its native manufacturing sector as a part of its Imaginative and prescient 2030 technique.

“We’ll comply with the place we clearly see there’s a build-up of demand. Clearly, because the area can be build up an ecosystem, that could be very attention-grabbing,” Mr Carlsson mentioned.

In September, Northvolt introduced that it will open a $5.2 billion gigafactory in Quebec, which is predicted to turn out to be operational in 2026.

North America, which has automotive manufacturers reminiscent of Tesla, Ford and Basic Motors, is the third-largest EV market on the planet behind China and Europe.

Nevertheless, the US Inflation Discount Act (IRA) enacted final yr has prompted a number of clear power firms to increase within the area, pushed by subsidies and cheaper power.

“It was essential in our decision-making to spend money on scaling up in North America,” Mr Carlsson mentioned.

“Establishing this trade requires plenty of capital and it additionally comes with fairly large start-up prices. North America with the IRA form of discovered an incentive method that actually helps that, and it has been fairly efficient when you see how a lot funding and exercise it has generated.”

Northvolt’s announcement comes in opposition to the backdrop of a rising geopolitical rivalry between the US and China within the pursuit of essential minerals.

“The uncertainty [regarding] the place the entire world goes is in fact creating very excessive uncooked supplies fluctuations, and that’s by no means good as a result of it prevents long run planning,” Mr Carlsson mentioned.

The growing “polarisation” of the world is prompting every area of the world to develop its personal EV provide chain and it will have “occurred anyway” as automotive makers comply with “just-in-time” manufacturing, the place stock ranges are stored as little as attainable to cut back prices, he mentioned.

In the meantime, international electrical automotive gross sales are set to surge by 35 per cent this yr, helped by authorities subsidies and the tightening of carbon dioxide emissions requirements, in response to the Worldwide Power Company.

Electrical automotive gross sales are projected to achieve 14 million in 2023 from 10 million final yr, the Paris-based company mentioned in its International Electrical Car Outlook in April.

Electrical autos will make up about half of the brand new automotive gross sales worldwide by 2035 because the push for net-zero carbon emissions accelerates, in response to Goldman Sachs Analysis.

Up to date: November 21, 2023, 5:00 AM


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