Sodium-Ion Batteries are making a lot of noise in the renewable energy storage space. Compared to Lithium, Sodium is cheap and abundant. If we want to store mass amounts of energy from solar and wind, Sodium-Ion batteries could be a great economic and environmental choice.
With energy companies racing to develop energy storage, one can only assume that there will be a break through technology. Imagine, a new technology that could dominate the energy storage market, leaving sub-par technologies in its wake and creating an exciting new phase in renewable energy storage.
Lithium-Ion batteries could be involved in some way, shape or form, with this break through technology. Lithium-Ion batteries are making huge advancements; Tesla, Enphase and Samsung are all charging full steam ahead with research and development. With Lithium-Ion batteries now on the scene, will Sodium-Ion Batteries ever stand a chance?
Not only is sodium accessible and abundant, making up over 2.6 percent of the earth's crust, sodium can be stored and shipped safely without fire risk. Another big advantage is that the sodium-ion battery cells can be completely discharged, where as Lithium-ion batteries can only go to 70% depth of discharge - therefore you can use more of the Sodium-Ion battery.
The other good news about Sodium-Ion batteries is that they are now available in New Zealand. Aquion Energy, based in Pittsburgh, are manufacturing the battery cells that are being distributed by Taspac throughout New Zealand.
Image above: Aquion, S-Line Battery Stack
The Aquion batters are 85% efficient and will run 3,000 cycles before degrading to 80% of their rated capacity. The cost of these batteries are around the same prices as lead acid batteries (the most commonly used type of batteries for off-grid solar power systems), they are expected to last twice as long than lead acid batteries.
One of many high-profile investors in Aquion Energy, Bill Gates, is investing $35 million into the company for research and development.
Aquion batteries are the first batteries to ever receive Cradle to Cradle Bronze status by the C2CC organisation. The materials used are a lot kinder to the environment. Materials include salt water electrolyte, carbon composite anode, manganese oxide cathode, and synthetic cotton separator.
The newly built 10 Star Eco Home in Papamoa has 2x Aquion S-Line battery cells at 2.2kW each being 4.4kW of useable storage.
The batteries are slow to charge and slow to discharge, a bit of a draw back. Therefore, if you have a small battery bank for storing your homes excess solar power (night use), then it will be able to run appliances like your TV and LED during the evening hours. But heavy duty appliances like an oven might still be drawing a proportion of the power needed from the grid.
With the backing of large investments groups and with clear advantages, this technology should be a great contender for Lithium-Ion batteries in the renewable energy storage space.