Thursday, January 27, 2022

"Why sodium is Mukesh Ambani’s big battery bet in EV race"

It seemed as though every week in 2021 there was a major story about Ambani or Adani.

They are both very wealthy,  Mukesh Ambani at around a $90 billion net worth has been the richest person in India for years and Gautam Adani at $75 billion is #2 on the leaderboard.

We've had more posts on Adani because his interests are closer to those of the blog, commodities, ports, power generation etc. but Mr. Ambani's billion-dollar home has garnered three different posts all on its own. Some links on both gents below.

From India's Economic Times, January 25:

From smartphones to Tesla Inc. cars, lithium-ion batteries are everywhere. But when Asia’s richest man went shopping in England with 100 million pounds ($136 million), he came back with humble sodium.

Sodium-ion is not a bad choice for Mukesh Ambani to kick off his power-storage gigafactory. For one thing, the earth’s crust has 300 times more sodium than lithium. For another, the global adoption rate of electric vehicles is currently so high that not just lithium, but high-grade nickel, cobalt and practically everything else that goes into an EV battery, is getting scarce. BloombergNEF is predicting a five-fold jump in the hunger for metals used to make lithium-ion cells by 2030. For the first time in many years, battery packs may get more expensive in 2022.

Ambani’s flagship Reliance Industries Ltd. is in the middle of an ambitious $76 billion clean-energy push. So, it makes sense for him to back a technology that’s as cheap as traditional lead-acid batteries, and requires ingredients that are easy to source. His price-sensitive customers in India and other emerging markets won’t mind having sodium ions running around between the anode and the cathode, as long as they don’t have to forgo too much of lithium’s performance in the bargain.

But will they? When it comes to energy density — the amount of electrical power that can be stored per unit of weight — Ambani is hoping the gap with lithium-ion will narrow, and that his money will play a role in bridging it. He’s not just putting down 100 million pounds for Sheffield- and Oxford-based Faradion Ltd.; he is plowing an additional 25 million pounds to accelerate commercial roll-out by the company which employs 16 people full time and holds 31 patents. The technology will be used in Reliance’s battery gigafactory in Jamnagar, Gujarat.

“If lithium is the only mainstream play, there simply isn’t enough of it — cobalt is even rarer,” says Ashwin Kumaraswamy, a venture capitalist at the U.K-based Mercia asset management Plc and a co-founder of Faradion. “In sodium, we’ve barely scratched the surface.” The startup, which has been working exclusively on sodium-ion for a decade, claims to be already delivering 160-170 watt-hours per kilogram commercially, and expects to hit 200 watt-hours a kilo soon. That’s more or less the density offered by the lithium-iron-phosphate cells in Tesla’s made-in-China Model 3 Standard Range....


Previously on sodium batteries:



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