Williams helps develop world’s first sodium-ion powered vehicle

May 20, 2015 // By Paul Buckley
Sheffield-based battery R&D business Faradion has demonstrated the world’s first sodium-ion powered vehicle.  The e-bike is a proof-of-concept, to show the capabilities of this new type of battery technology was unveiled at the headquarters of Williams Advanced Engineering.

The project to demonstrate Faradion’s sodium-ion battery technology, which was supported by Williams Advanced Engineering and the University of Oxford, has been part-funded by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency in organization's latest competition for 'disruptive technologies in low carbon vehicles'.

Although lithium-ion batteries are the predominant battery technology used in powering electric and hybrid vehicles, sodium-ion technology offers cost, safety and sustainability benefits.

The base materials required for sodium-ion batteries are more easily sourced than those needed for lithium-ion batteries, which are only found in a limited number of markets around the world.

Sodium-ion batteries are less expensive than their lithium-ion counterparts, offering savings of around 30 percent in terms of cost per kWh. As well as these benefits, sodium-ion batteries claim safety advantages because they can be transported in a totally discharged state. Lithium-ion batteries must be partially charged when they are transported, which has safety implications, especially for air freight.

The battery for the e-bike has a design energy of 418 Wh, 250 Wh of which has been used in the e-bike proof-of-concept. Faradion’s sodium-ion cells deliver a specific energy of more than 140 Wh/kg.