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UK cobalt-free solid-state battery technology claims major cost efficiencies

Highlights

$50/kWh for cobalt-free technology

Targets grid storage applications, EVs

'Cheaper materials, inherently safe'

London — UK government-funded tests have concluded successfully on a solid-state battery system that is cobalt-free and costs under half that of comparable lithium-ion technology, project participants told S&P Global Platts Feb. 24.

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LiNa Energy and ion Ventures have been trialing the solid-state sodium battery technology in South East England, supported by GBP1 million of funding from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. They put the cost of the new platform at $50/kWh versus $120/kWh for lithium-ion technology at gigafactory scale.

"The LiNa design also allows for the replacement of nickel with iron for a modest performance drop, which was also modeled and brought the cost down to $35/kWh," the companies said.

"The battery chemistry is inherently safe thus making it highly attractive to a range of different sectors, including the grid storage sector targeted by ion Ventures."

The system, known as the LiNa Platform, reengineers commercially proven sodium-nickel chloride (NaNiCl) chemistry. Tests were conducted offsite in a real-world location hosted by ion Ventures, with the platform demonstrating capability to charge and discharge in line with expectations.

"At present, lithium-ion technology is the dominant chemistry for battery storage systems, but the LiNa Platform has potential to disrupt incumbent lithium-ion batteries in grid storage markets, and passenger and commercial electric vehicles (EVs)," the companies said.

The platform was on a trajectory to supersede incumbent lithium-ion technology on all key performance indicators, including volumetric and gravimetric energy densities, they said.

"We hope to take a leading role in deploying new battery technology, such as the LiNa Platform, into the grid storage market to aid the renewable energy transition," said ion Ventures cofounder Dan Taylor.

The UK has around 1.1 GW of battery storage capacity in operation, up from 700 MW in December 2019, RenewableUK said Feb. 5.

A further 600 MW are in construction, 8.3 GW fully consented and 1.6 GW in the planning system, the association had said.