Lithium batteries ‘sailing ahead’, sodium batteries usher in an explosive point


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Just as lithium batteries were revolutionary in their time, sodium batteries are equally groundbreaking now.

Since CATL (Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited) unveiled sodium batteries, the industry has witnessed an unstoppable wave of investments in this technology. On one hand, new players in the sodium battery field have emerged, backed by massive financing. On the other hand, established giants in the lithium battery industry are racing to seize opportunities, and even previously unrelated internet giants are joining the race.Since Xiaomi announced its foray into the automotive industry, its interest in batteries has been growing day by day.

Recently, JiaNa Energy Technology (JiaNa) announced the completion of its Pre-A+ round of financing, with continued investment from existing shareholder Shunwei Capital. According to the equity structure diagram on Tianyancha, the institutional entity of Shunwei Capital is Beijing Shunwei Capital Investment Consulting Co., Ltd., with Xiaomi Group Chairman Lei Jun as its legal representative.As a seasoned and influential angel investor, Lei Jun has always had a keen eye for opportunities. According to Battery China’s report, JiaNa Energy Technology is currently focused on developing polyanionic-type cathode materials suitable for energy storage needs, as well as biomass-derived hard carbon anode materials. The company’s third-generation high-end customized hard carbon anode material has a specific capacity of approximately 400mAh/g. JiaNa Energy launched a production line with a capacity of a thousand tons in July this year and plans to establish a production line with a capacity of tens of thousands of tons by the end of 2023. In addition to Xiaomi, the technology and retail giant Meituan has also entered the field.In June of this year, SuperSodium New Energy completed its Series A financing with an investment amount exceeding hundreds of millions of yuan.

At the same time, the company announced the formal establishment of the “SuperMe China” Sodium Battery Alliance. The term “Super” refers to SuperSodium New Energy, while “Me” refers to Meituan. In August last year, SuperSodium New Energy completed its Pre-A financing round with exclusive investment from Meituan. According to Battery China, Beijing Kuxun Technology, a subsidiary of Meituan, holds 10% of the shares of SuperSodium New Energy. Currently, SuperSodium New Energy has a high-performance zero-carbon intelligent production line project for sodium-ion battery materials in Huzhou, including a 2,000-ton per year cathode material production line, a ton-scale Prussian blue pilot line, and a 20,000-ton per year electrolyte production line. It is worth noting that Meituan has also made a strategic investment in Xinwanda, one of the leading battery manufacturers. According to Xinwanda, their sodium-ion batteries are expected to enter mass production in the third quarter of 2024, with an energy density of 160Wh/kg, meeting the market demand for A00-grade, A0-grade, A-grade, and other new energy vehicles. Furthermore, in December of last year, Meituan participated in the financing of Wuhan TianNa, acquiring a 9.99% equity stake. Recently, Wuhan TianNa announced plans to invest approximately 1.5 billion yuan to build a 100,000-ton sodium battery energy storage-type hard carbon anode production line in Fuyang, Anhui. In February of this year, Wuhan TianNa also planned to invest approximately 750 million yuan to build a 50,000-ton per year sodium-ion battery power-type hard carbon anode production line.

01 Lithium battery companies are competing to invest in the emerging sodium-ion battery sector

In addition to the companies recognized by Xiaomi and Meituan, there have been over 20 companies that have secured financing this year in the sodium-ion battery sector. These companies include Zhongkehai Sodium, Pangu Sodium Xiang, Zhongna Energy, Hua Sodium New Materials, Sodium Innovation Energy, Ying Sodium New Energy, Lepu Sodium Electricity, Baishi Grid, Weifang Energy, Cube New Energy, Soft Sodium Science, Zhongna Era, Hao Sodium New Energy, Tan Shen Technology, Guoke Carbon Beauty, Rongna New Energy, Qina New Energy, Sodium Yi New Energy, and Hanshu Technology. Behind the financing of these sodium battery companies, heavyweight players in the lithium battery industry have frequently appeared. Paineng Technology, Xingyuan Materials, Xiongtao Power, Xinzhoubang, Zijian Electronics, Meilian New Materials… The lineup is quite impressive. In June alone this year, multiple sodium battery companies secured financing. For example, energy storage battery leader Paine Technology increased its investment in Zhongna Energy. After the capital increase, Paine Technology will hold a 1.9231% equity stake in Zhongna Energy. Just a month ago, Zhongna Energy established the largest domestic sodium battery project in Guangde, Anhui. The project has a total investment of 10 billion yuan and plans to build a production base with an annual output of 20 GWh of energy storage batteries and 10 GWh of energy storage systems. One of the most popular companies in this field is Pangu Sodium Xiang. In its recent angel round financing of tens of millions of RMB, the investors included Xingyuan Materials, Xiongtao Power, Xinzhoubang, GEM, and other well-known companies in the lithium battery industry.

02 Breakthrough progress in sodium-ion battery-powered vehicles

The intensive financing projects for sodium batteries mentioned above clearly indicate that the era of sodium batteries is truly emerging. According to Zhejiang Securities, it is estimated that China’s sodium battery demand will reach a total of 88 GWh in 2025 and 378 GWh in 2030. In fact, 2023 has already become the year of mass production for sodium-ion batteries, and the adoption in vehicles is rapidly accelerating. According to CATL’s plans, the basic industrial chain for sodium batteries will be established in 2023. When the first generation of sodium batteries was released in 2021, the energy density of the individual battery cell had already reached 160 Wh/kg. The next generation of sodium batteries by CATL is expected to surpass 200 Wh/kg, approaching the energy density of lithium iron phosphate batteries.

In June of this year, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology approved the use of sodium-ion batteries in electric vehicles. It was disclosed that Chery’s Ice Cream sodium battery pack was provided by CATL. Additionally, the Jiangling Yichis EV model, as announced by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, is equipped with sodium batteries from Funeng Technology. Earlier this year, Funeng Technology received a “EV3 Sodium Battery Designation Letter” from Jiangling Group. Jiangling Group will procure sodium-ion battery packs from Funeng Technology and requires them to initiate mass production by June 30th of this year. Earlier, the industry’s first sodium-ion battery prototype vehicle, jointly developed by Sihao New Energy and Zhongkehai Sodium, was unveiled at the beginning of the year. The Sihao EX10 Hua Xianzi-A00 class short-range vehicle used in this test was equipped with sodium-ion battery packs that applied cellular battery technology for the first time, with a cell energy density of 140 Wh/kg. On the day before the debut of Sihao’s “Hua Xianzi,” Duofuduo Technology announced that they had already conducted vehicle testing with their sodium battery products installed in customer vehicles. It is known that Duofuduo Technology’s subsidiary, Jiaozuo New Energy, currently has a production capacity of 1 GWh/year for sodium batteries, and its subsidiary, Guangxi Ningfu New Energy, has planned a sodium battery production capacity of 5 GWh/year. Additionally, according to their plan, Duofuduo Technology will also establish a 1 GWh/year sodium battery production line in 2023. It is worth noting that according to media reports, BYD’s sodium-ion batteries are expected to enter mass production and be installed in vehicles in the second half of this year. The vehicle model that will be equipped with these batteries is speculated to be the A00 class model, the Seagull. This new car will be the first to adopt a hybrid configuration of sodium-ion and lithium iron phosphate batteries. The car is expected to have a selling price of 60,000 RMB, a range of 300 km, and a price advantage of nearly 20,000 RMB compared to lithium-ion battery models. Additionally, Chuan Yi Technology stated that they anticipate actual shipments of their sodium batteries to reach 2-3 GWh in 2023. Penghui Energy revealed that they are planning to introduce sodium-ion battery mass-produced products with a cycle life of 6,000 cycles, aiming for production in 2023. It is reported that Penghui has developed a vanadium phosphate sodium battery with an energy density exceeding 160 Wh/kg, and its performance will be close to that of lithium iron phosphate batteries.

03 After a thousand sails have passed

Compared to lithium batteries, sodium batteries have several advantages such as improved safety, a wider operating temperature range, higher rate capability, and most notably, significant cost advantages. Industry estimates suggest that even with lithium carbonate prices at 150,000 RMB/ton, sodium battery materials could potentially be 30%-40% cheaper than lithium battery materials. In terms of resource reserves, sodium resources on Earth are hundreds of times more abundant than lithium resources. Data shows that sodium ranks sixth among the elements globally, and sodium resources are widely distributed around the world with abundant reserves. Sodium reserves in the Earth’s crust account for 2.64%, which is 423 times higher than lithium resources, and sodium extraction techniques are relatively simple. For a long time, the industry has been eagerly seeking batteries with lower costs and excellent performance. While lithium batteries have inherent advantages in performance, they ultimately fall behind sodium batteries in terms of theoretical costs. However, due to the current small market size and inadequate supporting industries such as materials and equipment, sodium batteries do not yet have a cost competitive advantage in the short term. But dreams will eventually become reality. In terms of cost, despite the various technological pathways such as lithium iron phosphate, ternary, lithium manganese iron phosphate, and lithium titanate, sodium batteries will ultimately usher in their own dawn amid the fierce competition.

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