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The price of car batteries is falling and will fall even more
Companies that produce sodium-based batteries are entering the race, and hydrogen is at stake - Lithium is no longer without competition, the technology that is cheaper and more practical will win because the value of the battery now makes up a third of the price of an electric car
The automotive industry is already moving in the direction of battery-powered vehicles. There are more and more of them on the streets, the states are subsidizing them - although the technology is not optimal yet and it is not very profitable.
Since Tesla made a model with lithium-ion batteries in 2008, the number of electric cars has increased by eight million.
The problem is that the price of batteries makes up a third of the total price of electric cars, so reducing the cost of their production is a determining condition for them to become competitive with conventional cars.
The prices of almost all raw materials in the automotive industry are rising, batteries are the most expensive part of electric cars, but the prices of lithium-ion batteries have started to fall.
According to the consulting agency Bloomberg, the price of a kilowatt hour of battery in smartphones and other devices is currently 132 dollars, 6 percent lower than the price in 2020 and 89 percent lower than the price in 2010. Experts are currently mentioning the price of batteries for electric cars of 118 dollars per kilowatt hour.
It is certain that the production of batteries will continue to develop. Currently, the average cost for one kilowatt-hour of energy from a lithium-ion battery is $ 130. The goal is 100 dollars, and then electric cars could compete with conventional ones. Battery manufacturers could achieve this goal in the next few years.
Demand for batteries will grow, and their price will be lower and lower, they concluded in the Economist newspaper.
Electric mobility currently depends on lithium, cobalt and copper batteries. But, once again, it has paid off - it pays to invest in research and new technologies.
Sodium as an alternative to lithium in batteries is not new, but the idea was ignored - because there was no technology to eliminate the shortcomings of this metal.
The two alkali metals lithium and sodium are chemically very similar. Sodium does not have the energy density of lithium and is heavier, but sodium is available everywhere and is cheap. The sodium-ion battery has a similar principle of operation as the lithium-ion battery - but it does not need cobalt and copper. However, compared to lithium ions, sodium ions have a larger volume and higher requirements in terms of structural stability and kinetic properties of the material.
The Chinese company KATL, which supplies batteries to Tesla, Daimler, Volkswagen and other electric car manufacturers, presented the first generation of its sodium battery this summer. Such a battery will be cheaper, less flammable, will have a longer lifespan and will be more resistant to low temperatures than lithium-ion - and lithium-ferro-phosphate batteries.
Experts say that sodium-ion batteries can be charged only 1,500 times, compared to two to four times with lithium variants. The company offered a transitional solution - a system for the combined use of lithium and sodium batteries, but also pointed out that it is researching further and expects top results.
According to the Chinese media, it is expected that sodium-ion batteries in the trial phase will cost around 65 euros per kilowatt-hour, and in serial production, the price should be halved. KATL plans to start mass delivery of these batteries - in 2023.
This company has been cooperating with partners in Germany since 2014 and has started building a battery factory in Thuringia.
Other competing firms are working on similar projects. The British company AMTE Power recently announced the production of sodium-based batteries under the license of the British battery manufacturer "Faradion".
Another major battery manufacturer is GAC announced the promotion of an electric car with graphene batteries, which with a charge of eight minutes allow autonomy of movement up to 800 kilometers.
However, there is another electrical solution that is gaining more and more popularity, and it works with hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Cars that use this technology are also powered by electric motors. Instead of charging the battery with electricity through a plug, these models require a hydrogen charging station, very similar to what we have today with gasoline and diesel. While battery-powered vehicles take at least an hour to charge, depending on the type of battery and charger, fuel cell-powered cars are virtually charged like conventional vehicles in terms of time required. The batteries used by these models are much smaller, and therefore lighter. So the future also offers hydrogen as an energy source to power vehicles, and it should offer a better alternative than battery-powered cars,
When visiting the Tesla car factory under construction in Germany, Elon Musk, when asked whether the future of the car is hydrogen or electric, said - it is definitely electric! Hydrogen, he argues, is a waste of time.
It is certain that in the future we will see more and more models of renowned manufacturers powered by hydrogen, whatever Elon Musk thinks about it. This is claimed by the scientific teams that are developing these projects.
Development in the field of more accessible and safer alternative batteries on naturally occurring elements such as sodium, magnesium, aluminum, calcium and zinc, but also some that we do not have in mind now, is necessary to reach a better, longer-term and cost-effective solution.
So, the big world dilemma and the race over which raw material is a better basis for making batteries, which and what kind of drive - is still going on. The option that is cheaper and more convenient to use will win.