At the CATL (300750) annual shareholder meeting held on May 21, Chairman Zeng Yuqun revealed that the company's sodium-ion battery is mature and will be released around July this year. The battery network learned that in June 2020, CATL established the "21st Century Innovation Laboratory". The laboratory's short- and medium-term research directions also include the development of next-generation batteries such as sodium-ion batteries.
As soon as the news that CATL will release sodium-ion batteries, it has triggered a new round of attention in the industry for sodium-ion batteries, and the stock market is also moving: as of the close on the 24th, China Salt Chemical, Shengyang, Huayang, and Shandong Zhanggu’s daily limit. Share prices of China Great Wall, Xinwangda, CATL and Nanfeng Chemical rose.
What is a sodium ion battery? Public information shows that sodium ion batteries are secondary batteries that use sodium ions as charge carriers. They were first proposed in the 1970s, but their development has been relatively slow for a long time. Studies have shown that as of 2020, there are only more than 20 companies in the world dedicated to the research and development of sodium-ion batteries such as Zhongke Hai Na, Sodium Innovative Energy, Star Sodium, Chaowei Group, Faradion of the United Kingdom, Tiamat of France, and Natron Energy of the United States. Home.
The main advantages of sodium ion batteries are extremely rich reserves (the abundance in the crust is more than 1,000 times that of lithium), high safety (thermal runaway temperature is higher than that of lithium batteries), low cost (theoretically), high conversion efficiency, and fast charging and many more. And because the manufacturing process is similar to that of lithium ion batteries, most of the existing lithium battery equipment is compatible with the production of sodium ion batteries. However, sodium ion batteries also have obvious defects such as low energy density, poor rate performance, and slower industrialization process.
Agency predicts mixed prospects
Regarding the future development prospects of sodium-ion batteries, the predictions of major institutions are also mixed.
Guotai Junan Securities stated that 70% of my country's lithium resources need to be imported, and sodium-ion batteries are the support and guarantee for lithium-ion batteries. The main scenarios for the development of sodium-ion batteries are base stations, electric bicycles and other fields that do not require high energy density. In the future, they are expected to have the advantages of low cost and good safety, which are a good supplement to the ternary high nickel technology route.
Huajin Securities believes that sodium-ion batteries are still in the early stages of industrialization, and they are expected to replace some low-energy-density power lithium battery markets and energy storage markets after industrialization. Sodium-ion batteries have an impact on the positive and negative electrodes, electrolyte, and copper current collector of lithium batteries, and have a small impact on the separator: 1. The most influential is the lithium resource. The low energy density cathode material achieves no lithiation, but it cannot replace it. The demand for lithium, nickel, cobalt and manganese still exists. 2. The negative electrode material changes from graphite to hard carbon and other materials. 3. The electrolyte system is newly added with propylene carbonate (PC), and the electrolyte is replaced with NaClO4, NaPF6, etc. 4. The porosity of the diaphragm may be adjusted, but it will not affect the current diaphragm system. 5. The current collector copper foil of the negative electrode is completely replaced by aluminum foil.
Northeast Securities believes that the energy density of sodium-ion batteries (generally less than 120Wh/kg) is significantly lower than that of lithium iron phosphate batteries (160Wh/kg) and ternary batteries, which match the demand for new energy vehicle batteries. There is no substitute for lithium batteries. The possibility of becoming a mainstream technology in the power field. The current actual production cost of sodium ion batteries does not have a significant advantage. Although the use of relatively cheap metals can reduce the cost of raw materials, low energy density means more auxiliary materials and manufacturing costs.
Northeast Securities also stated that, from the current point of view, the substitution of sodium-ion batteries for lithium batteries is actually very weak. Considering that sodium reserves are more abundant than lithium, attention should be paid to the strategic significance of sodium-ion batteries as a technical reserve and ensuring energy security, but its commercial value should not be overestimated.
Huaan Securities also stated that the organic sodium-ion battery system is significantly different from the current lithium-ion system, except for the diaphragm and electrolyte solvent; the raw material advantage of sodium-ion batteries compared with lithium-ion batteries is mainly to replace lithium salts with Sodium salt, and the copper foil is replaced with aluminum foil; but the low energy density and cycle performance of sodium ion batteries correspond to more auxiliary material consumption and higher electricity cost. In addition to the scale factor, the road to cost reduction of sodium-ion batteries is still facing numerous obstacles.
Many domestic companies have entered the market
In addition to the Ningde era, many domestic companies have already set foot in the field of sodium ion batteries and their materials.
On May 24, Tinci Materials (002709) stated on the interactive platform that the electrolyte of sodium-ion battery is similar to that of lithium-ion battery. The difference is that the electrolyte is changed from lithium hexafluorophosphate to sodium hexafluorophosphate. Sodium hexafluorophosphate is not a new product. Has mass production technology, and products have passed customer approval.
On May 12th, Shandong Zhanggu (002598) said in response to investors’ questions that the company’s current Kashander technology is based on the material synthesis of the PPS system’s lithium-ion, sodium-ion, and zinc-ion solid functional membranes and the dry-process self- Support diaphragm manufacturing technology.
On April 22, Sinosalt Chemical (600328) disclosed in its 2020 annual report that the company's metal sodium production capacity was 65,000 tons, accounting for 40.5% of the global production capacity, and its scale and technological advantages were in the leading position in the industry. However, the main application areas of its sodium metal products are indigo powder and pharmaceutical intermediates.
On April 14, Huayang Co., Ltd. (600348) announced that the company plans to invest in the construction of a thousand-ton production project of sodium-ion battery cathode material and a thousand-ton production project of sodium-ion battery anode material through its subsidiary Xinyang Energy. The company has also stated that it will make use of the raw material advantages of anthracite to build a production line for anode and cathode materials for sodium ion batteries made from anthracite, and build the country's largest sodium ion battery production base.
On March 29, Shengyang shares (002580) said in answering investors’ questions that sodium-ion battery technology is one of the company’s continued focus on technology reserve research directions, and the company’s technical team has continued to pay attention to the development trend of sodium-ion battery technology. It is reported that Shengyang Co., Ltd. and academician workstations have jointly developed high-environmental protection and high-cycle sodium-ion batteries, which have passed the experimental stage.
On March 26, Zhongke Haina reported that the company has completed a billion-dollar A round of financing. The investor is Wutongshu Capital. This round of financing will be used to build a sodium-ion battery positive and negative material with an annual capacity of 2,000 tons. production line. Prior to this, Zhongke Haina has completed two rounds of financing. Investors include well-known investment institutions such as Guoke Jiahe, Zhongke Chuangxing and Wutongshu Capital.
Founded in 2017, the core technology of Hai Na is from the Clean Energy Laboratory of the Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences. The company has a number of core patents for sodium ion batteries, and has a complete material research and development platform, 100-ton sodium ion battery positive and negative electrodes Material pilot production line, MWh sodium ion battery pilot production line. At present, the product has been the first to start applications in the fields of low-speed vehicles, two-wheeled vehicles and 5G base stations.
On January 4, China Great Wall (000066) stated in response to investors’ questions that its subsidiaries are engaged in the R&D and production of lithium batteries and sodium ion batteries. The demonstration application of sodium ion batteries on electric bicycles shows practicality and industrialization. potential.
In addition to the above-mentioned companies, Battery Network noted that the companies that deploy sodium-ion batteries include Chaowei Group and Zhejiang Pharmaceutical.
In January 2017, Chaowei Group and General Electric Company of the United States signed a Durathon sodium salt battery project cooperation agreement, and jointly established Zhejiang Anli Energy Co., Ltd. to carry out the production, research and development and sales of sodium salt batteries. The project has a total investment of 105 million U.S. dollars and a planned total production capacity of 500MWh.
Zhejiang Pharmaceutical holds a 40% stake in Sodium Innovative Energy. Sodium Innovative Energy specializes in technological innovation and engineering of sodium-ion batteries, and has completed and put into production the world's first ton-grade sodium ferrite-based transition metal oxide cathode material pilot line. Founded in May 2018, Sodium Innovation Energy is committed to the innovative research and development of sodium ion batteries and industrial production research.
In addition, listed companies such as Xinwangda, Bozhong Precision, Dow Technology, Rongbai Technology, and Tianneng Co., Ltd. also regard sodium ion batteries and their key materials and equipment as one of the research directions of technical reserves. Some companies have related patent layouts. .
From the perspective of the industry, there are relatively few companies currently deployed in the sodium-ion battery field, and companies are involved in the sodium-ion battery field, with abundant resource reserves and low prices as the main driving force. It is expected that the large-scale mass production and commercial application of sodium-ion batteries will take time. In the next three to five years, compared with lithium batteries, the competitiveness will not be very obvious. However, with technological progress and the improvement of the industrial chain layout, sodium-ion batteries will be used in low-speed electric vehicles, home/industrial energy storage, 5G communication base stations, small power batteries, electric ships and other subdivisions in the future. Lead-acid batteries and lithium batteries are expected to have a certain amount of replacement space.