A cost and resource analysis of sodium-ion batteries

Abstract

Sodium-ion batteries have been identified as appealing alternatives to lithium-ion batteries because they are made from raw materials that are less expensive, more abundant and less toxic. However, the frequently discussed cost advantage of sodium-ion batteries has, so far, not been examined in detail. In this Perspective, we use the Battery Performance and Cost (BatPaC) model to undertake a cost analysis of the materials for sodium-ion and lithium-ion cells, as well as complete batteries, and determine the effect of exchanging lithium with sodium, as well as the effect of replacing the material used for the anode current collector foil, on the cost. Moreover, we compare the calculated production costs of exemplary sodium-ion and lithium-ion batteries and highlight the most relevant parameters for optimization. Finally, the major raw materials for lithium-ion cathodes are examined in terms of potential supply risks because supply issues may lead to increased costs. Through the use of a scenario-based supply and demand analysis, the risks to the supply of lithium and cobalt are assessed, and implications for battery research are discussed. Overall, we provide a broad and interdisciplinary perspective on modern batteries and future directions for this field, with a focus on sodium-ion batteries.

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Figure 1: Cost comparison of model sodium-ion and lithium-ion batteries.
Figure 2: Production scale and mining interdependencies of elements for battery materials.
Figure 3: Average active materials mixtures for reference devices.
Figure 4: Battery size and element requirements for reference devices.
Figure 5: Estimated number of devices and related energy demand for 2016–2050.
Figure 6: Supply risk for lithium and cobalt.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank L. Grande for fruitful discussions and acknowledge the financial support of the Helmholtz Association. J. Riegert and K. Peters are acknowledged for their help with preparing the manuscript text and figures before submission.

Author information

C.V. researched the data and conducted the calculations. C.V. and D.B. wrote the manuscript. All authors contributed to the discussion of the results and implications and commented on the manuscript at all stages. S.P. edited the manuscript before submission.

Correspondence to Daniel Buchholz or Stefano Passerini.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Vaalma, C., Buchholz, D., Weil, M. et al. A cost and resource analysis of sodium-ion batteries. Nat Rev Mater 3, 18013 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/natrevmats.2018.13

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