Swedish battery-maker Northvolt wants to produce sodium-ion batteries in Europe

BYD has announced the production of 30 GWh of sodium batteries with a new gigafactory, and the European response was not slow to arrive. The response came from Northvolt, the Swedish battery manufacturer and currently the only one in Europe, which announced the development of its first sodium-ion product to reduce dependence on scarce raw materials and lay the foundation for the company’s next generation of electric car batteries.

Northvolt was founded by Peter Carlsson, the current CEO, who is also working on Italvolt in Italy. He also had a third project, Britishvolt, in the UK, but it never took off.

Sodium batteries discharge more slowly and have a lower environmental impact

The sodium-ion battery cell has a “best-in-class” energy density of over 160 Wh/kg and was made without the use of lithium, nickel, cobalt, or graphite, as stated in the company’s official press release. And although the first sodium-ion cells are primarily designed for energy storage, future generations may be able to offer higher energy density for electric mobility.

According to Carlsson, sodium-ion technology provides the performance needed to enable energy storage with a longer duration than alternative battery chemistries at a lower cost. This means lower costs for electric cars, especially compact ones.

Image: Northvolt

Northvolt’s new product, based on a hard carbon anode and a high-sodium Prussian white cathode, is more cost-effective and sustainable than conventional batteries made with nickel, manganese, cobalt, or iron phosphate, according to the company. With better safety at high temperatures, Northvolt sees it as particularly attractive for energy storage in markets such as India, the Middle East, and Africa.

As the only major homegrown battery maker in Europe, the company is expanding electric vehicle battery production in Sweden and has plans to build factories not only in Italy but also in Germany and Canada. So far, it has raised over $9 billion in equity and debt, supported by orders of over $55 billion from automotive clients, including BMW, Volvo, Polestar, and the Volkswagen Group.

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