CATL first-gen sodium-ion battery — CATL

CATL’s New Battery Will Cause An EV Revolution

Tesla should be very worried.

Will Lockett
Predict
Published in
4 min readNov 11, 2022

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Battery technology is the key to winning the EV race. If you can make a battery that is super cheap, light, able to charge incredibly quickly, and has a tiny impact on the environment, then you can easily build an industry-leading EV years ahead of the competition. This is precisely what Tesla is trying to do with its 4680 battery. But CATL, one of Tesla’s own suppliers, is about to blow the 4680 out of the water with its groundbreaking sodium-ion battery. So, should Musk be worried?

Before we dive into CATL’s new battery, we first need to understand what sodium-ion batteries are. You see, most modern batteries in our EVs, laptops, and phones use lithium-ion battery chemistry. We use this chemistry because it offers fantastic energy density and rapid charging. This is why modern EVs can carry enough batteries to drive more than 300 miles and can fully charge in under an hour. However, lithium-ion batteries aren’t perfect. They pose a significant fire risk, have a short life cycle, struggle under thermal stress, have a considerable environmental impact, and cost a bomb to manufacture!

Many companies, including Tesla, are trying to develop lithium-ion batteries that mitigate these weaknesses. But sodium-ion is an alternative battery chemistry that seems to solve all of these issues.

Sodium-ion batteries use much more widely available materials that are easier to mine and refine, making them significantly cheaper. But it isn’t just cost that makes sodium-ion batteries amazing. They are also much safer, last far longer, charge way quicker, and have a miniscule environmental impact. Annoyingly, sodium-ion batteries also have a very low energy density, making it impossible to build practical EVs with them — at least until recently.

CATL has solved sodium-ion batteries’ energy density problem. Last year, they unveiled their first-generation sodium-ion battery, and its specifications are incredible.

It has an energy density of 160 Wh/kg, and CATL has a patent to raise this to 200 Wh/kg. This means they are only slightly heavier than lithium-ion batteries, which sit at about 220 Wh/kg, making a sodium-ion-powered EV possible. The battery itself can be charged from 0% to 80%

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Will Lockett
Predict

Independent journalist covering global politics, climate change and technology. Get articles early at www.planetearthandbeyond.co