With it, Teslas are going to cut prices again

In Verne's pen, the Nautilus is a submarine that never has "anxiety".

▲ Model of the Nautilus submarine. Picture from: FIGURE COMPLEX

By refining the sodium in seawater and mixing it with mercury, it can be used to make a battery for the Nautilus to travel and provide daily electricity for the crew without stopping.

Similar to the "submarine" and "rocket" in Verne's novels entering reality, the "sodium" on the Nautilus also appears in the current or near future "chemical batteries".

30% lower cost, 80% charge in 15 minutes, sodium ion battery is coming

Some people are discussing that the chemical system of the battery is already difficult to innovate, and only some improvements can be made in the physical structure.

We believe that the world of electrochemistry is like an energy cube, where the unknown is far greater than the known, and we are tirelessly exploring its mysteries.

▲Zeng Yuqun, founder and chairman of Ningde Times. Picture from: Ningde Times

The first-generation sodium ion battery released by the Ningde era is an exploration of the electrochemical "energy cube" by Dr. Zeng Yuqun and the Ningde era.

Sodium-ion batteries were actually proposed as early as 19, but they were still in the research stage until the first generation of sodium-ion batteries was announced in the Ningde era.

The main factors hindering sodium-ion batteries from entering production and mass production are energy density and service life.

The energy densities of sodium ion batteries announced by the domestic Zhongke Hai Na and Sodium Innovative Energy are respectively 135Wh/kg and 120Wh/kg, while the energy density of Faradion in the United Kingdom reaches 140Wh/kg.

In terms of service life, the cycles of sodium ion batteries of the above three companies are greater than 2000, greater than 1000, and 1000, respectively.

For comparison, the average energy density of lithium iron phosphate batteries is 180Wh/kg, and the number of cycles is more than 6000 times. The ternary lithium battery is close to 300Wh/kg and 3000 times.

The first-generation sodium-ion battery announced by CATL has an energy density of 160Wh/kg, which is the "highest level in the world." In addition, the energy density of next-generation sodium-ion batteries will exceed 200Wh/kg.

This data has exceeded the current level of some lithium iron phosphate batteries.

In terms of lifespan, CATL revealed in an interview that the number of cycles has exceeded 3,000, which has surpassed the industry average.

In other dimensions, the first-generation sodium-ion battery also has certain advantages.

Due to the rich content of sodium in the earth's crust and distribution in the world, sodium ion compounds are easy to obtain. Compared with lithium, the price is stable and low, and sodium ion batteries can be reduced by 30%.

In addition, sodium-ion batteries have better temperature resistance, with a discharge efficiency of more than 90% at minus 20°C, and the air conditioner can finally be used boldly in winter.

The first-generation sodium-ion battery can be charged 80% of the power in 15 minutes, and it has fast charging capability.

Industrially, the new electrolyte system developed by CATL for sodium-ion batteries is compatible with the current lithium-ion battery technology and equipment, and has the potential for mass production.

Compared with lithium, sodium ion is more stable, and its safety has surpassed the safety requirements of the strong national power battery standard.

In summary, the first-generation sodium-ion battery announced by CATL is already comparable to lithium iron phosphate in the six dimensions of energy density, safety, cost, service life, temperature resistance, and energy replenishment speed, and is beginning to approach The performance of lithium batteries.

After the mass production of sodium-ion batteries, Tesla and Weilai will continue to cut prices?

Just before the publication, the Tesla Model 3 standard battery life dropped 15,000 yuan, and the subsidy later reached 235,900 yuan.

If lower-cost sodium-ion batteries are used, theoretically Tesla, Xiaopeng or Weilai may also drop to lower prices.

But before imagining that the price of electric cars can be reduced to the price of cabbage, the premise of mass production and commercial use of sodium-ion batteries must be attached.

Although the first generation of sodium-ion batteries can already be comparable in product strength to lithium iron phosphate batteries, and the related production lines will also be compatible with current lithium-ion batteries, CATL stated that the relevant supply chain construction will not be until 2023.

This means that the Ningde era's sodium-ion batteries will reach large-scale commercial and mass-market launches, and it will take at least two years. By then, the direct mass production of a new generation of sodium-ion batteries with an energy density of 200Wh/kg will not be ruled out.

Even so, there is still a big gap between the energy density of sodium-ion batteries and ternary and quaternary lithium batteries.

▲ Jinjiang 100MWh-class energy storage power station. Picture from: Ningde Times

In the next few years, the main application areas of sodium-ion batteries will not be the power batteries for electric vehicles such as Tesla, but will be for energy storage, mechanical work tools and two-wheel (small and low-endurance) electric vehicles.

In other words, the challenge of sodium-ion batteries is not ternary lithium batteries, semi-solid batteries, but plans to replace traditional lead-acid batteries and challenge lithium iron phosphate batteries.

When sodium-ion batteries are introduced to the market, they may complement the application scenarios of lithium batteries, each meeting the application needs of different market segments.

Of course, these are estimates based on the status quo in the industry, not a fixed number.

At the same time when CATL announced the first generation of sodium-ion batteries, it also developed an AB battery solution for the shortcomings of insufficient sodium-ion energy density, in which sodium-ion batteries and lithium-ion batteries were mixed and shared in one battery pack.

After such a battery pack is connected in series and parallel, it can make up for the insufficient energy density of the sodium ion battery and give play to the advantages of low temperature, stability and high power of sodium ion.

This kind of "integrated" power battery pack is very likely to be used in some manufacturers' entry-level models to continue to lower the price of electric vehicles or continue to reduce prices.

Is it the "energy cube" or "the cube building"?

"The world of electrochemistry is an energy cube with many unknowns." But it is also more like a cube building. The current battery industry is also like a Lake walking into the cube building, lost in it, and has never found an exit.

▲ Tesla 2170 lithium-ion battery.

From the 1996 Nobel Prize winner John Goodenough (John Goodenough) discovered that lithium iron phosphate can be used as a cathode material for lithium-ion batteries, to the commercialization of lithium-ion batteries out of laboratories, the changes in lithium-ion battery technology are more quantitative.

Tesla's 4680 new battery released in September last year is more about improving battery power in battery design. The new battery adopts a non-electrode solution, which will increase the energy density and reduce the cost, and is expected to be mass-produced.

However, last month, Musk cancelled the Model S Plaid+ with 4680 new batteries and a battery life of more than 800km, and said on Twitter that "because Plaid is good enough, Plaid+ is not needed."

But Tesla badly needs the mass production of 4680 batteries to enhance its technological advantages. Musk said that 4680 batteries will be mass produced next year and will be used in the Model Y produced in Texas.

The reality is that Tesla's Texas factory is still under construction, and the 4680 battery is still in the trial and testing phase. Even Reuters said that it is not yet clear about the specific time for mass production of the 4680 battery and fulfilling the ambitious goals Musk said on the battery day.

In January this year, Weilai also launched a "solid-state battery" with an energy density of 360Wh/kg along with the new model ET7, which is expected to be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Equipped with this "solid-state battery" battery pack, ET7 NEDC will have a cruising range of more than 1000km.

But in fact, the battery that Weilai calls "solid state" still has electrolyte and separator. Strictly speaking, this is not a real solid state battery.

Whether it’s Tesla’s 4680 battery, what Weilai calls “solid-state batteries,” BYD’s “blade” batteries, and Ningde’s sodium-ion batteries, they are all innovations and improvements in physical materials and structures, not subversion. The qualitative change of sex.

As for batteries that can bring "qualitative change", "solid-state batteries" are one direction, but until now, no battery manufacturer has given a feasible solution. It is more like Tesla, listing a point in time, LG’s new The general manager of Energy's Asia marketing revealed that "striving to achieve mass production of all solid-state batteries by 2026", but mass production is not the same as commercial use, so the timing is not clear.

Before finding the exit of the "Cube Building" of chemical batteries, solving anxiety can only be achieved by taking the risk of increasing the charging power and reducing the recharge time as much as possible.

If the flow rate of a fuel dispenser is 30L/min as the standard, it is not rigorous to calculate that the refueling power of a gasoline car is about 1700kW, while the peak charging power of the Tesla V3 super charging pile is about 250kW. The difference is obvious at a glance, let alone Talk about the gap in the number of gas stations and charging stations.

▲ Wuling Hongguang miniEV.

But what if a lower cost is added before these comparisons? Perhaps this is a direction that electric vehicles currently want to popularize and increase competitiveness.

The sodium-ion batteries released by CATL may not be as good as lithium batteries in terms of energy density and lifespan. However, after commercialization, the lower cost obviously allows many electric vehicle manufacturers to play more freely in terms of price.

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