Earlier this week, the automotive press was aflutter with news of the release of the first ever mass-produced sodium-ion powered EV — the Yiwei hatchback by China’s JAC Motors.
Sodium-ion batteries, which contain absolutely zero lithium, promise better cold weather performance at a lower cost.
The cost savings come primarily from sodium’s greater abundance and accessibility. And according to some analysts, will help propel EV adoption rates among the less monied consumer base.
So the big question is: Will this spell an end to our global obsession with lithium metal?
The answer, for a multitude of reasons, is no.
First and foremost, sodium cells fail in the one arena that most concerns potential buyers — range.
The Yiwei hatchback will have a range of about 150 miles, compared with 300 miles or higher for today’s typical lithium-motivated EVs, and 500-600 miles for today’s longest-ranged li-ion powered cars.
Not So Fast With Your Sodium
Though sodium-ion battery packs boast recharge rates as low as 15 minutes to 80% capacity, that decreased time at the plug-in station translates into proportionately fewer miles spent on the road.
Sodium’s cost advantages are noticeable with price per kWh being between ⅓ and ⅔ that of lithium-ion, but the chances that this makes a huge difference to the buyer is highly questionable as there are plenty of affordable li-ion powered EVs on the market as it is.
Where as once the EV was only accessible to the well-to-do, today there are excellent models available for under $30K, namely the Chevy Bolt and Nissan Leaf — both of which have ranges approaching twice that of JAC’s sodium-powered hatchback.
But the overarching truth here is that even if sodium evolves into the cost-saving, efficient-operating power source that its proponents hope, successfully competing with the industry benchmark presents challenges which simple practicality cannot always overcome.
The consumer world, time and time again, has chosen and then stuck with impractical solutions.
We chose and stuck with gasoline over diesel, despite diesel fuel being safer and more energy dense, and diesel engines being simpler and longer lasting.
We chose and stuck with VHS over betamax despite beta beating VHS to market and allowing for higher resolution.
We chose and stuck with wood-based paper despite hemp being superior on a number of fronts, including cost and quality.
We’ve done this repeatedly for political reasons, and plain, simple laziness.
With the lithium industry being as established and accepted as it is, it will likely be years if not decades before it’s truly ousted from the top spot.
Indeed, lithium’s biggest foe isn’t a new battery technology, but lithium’s own scarcity. We love, crave and demand it so much that today’s global reserves are already losing the battle of abundance… So much so, in fact, that modern industry is scrambling to figure out new and better ways to produce more of it.
One such method for extracting lithium has the potential for ending the scarcity problem once and for all — and for a reason that’s easy to understand even to the most uninformed layman.
Lithium From Oil?
This method, which is now being tested by a small Canadian technology company, will allow for any oil and gas producing property to diversify into lithium production in just a matter of months.
You read that correctly. They’ve figured out a way to make lithium from the byproduct of fossil fuel production.
At a point in history where lithium is inching towards capturing the energy storage throne, it should come as no surprise that the companies which made trillions off our collective oil addiction are now scrambling to find a place in the post-carbon economy of tomorrow.
This new method is a complete departure from traditional lithium production.
There is no exploration, there is no mining, there is no multi-year lag time between discovery and production.
An energy company looking to diversify into lithium production simply hooks this extraction technology into their existing infrastructure, and salable lithium is ready to ship in a matter of weeks.
The company behind this all is, as I already mentioned, a technology company, because technology is what they’ve developed and technology is what they’ll be selling.
It’s small, young, and completely focused on the singular goal of revolutionizing lithium production.
Its creators themselves came from the petrochemical industry, which makes perfect sense, and gives this firm a unique place within a market that will play a crucial role in the energy sector for at least the next few decades.
Want to learn more about the science and the investment opportunity this presents?
Click here. Fortune favors the bold, Alex Koyfman His flagship service, Microcap Insider, provides market-beating insights into some of the fastest moving, highest profit-potential companies available for public trading on the U.S. and Canadian exchanges. With more than 5 years of track record to back it up, Microcap Insider is the choice for the growth-minded investor. Alex contributes his thoughts and insights regularly to Energy and Capital. To learn more about Alex, click here.
Fortune favors the bold,
His flagship service, Microcap Insider, provides market-beating insights into some of the fastest moving, highest profit-potential companies available for public trading on the U.S. and Canadian exchanges. With more than 5 years of track record to back it up, Microcap Insider is the choice for the growth-minded investor. Alex contributes his thoughts and insights regularly to Energy and Capital. To learn more about Alex, click here.