The rise in the popularity of electric bicycles cannot be understated, especially in places where congested roads or high gas prices make car ownership unaffordable for many. So while many automakers and technology companies are focusing on building big battery packs for electric vehicles, Britain’s Faradion went a different route, building an electric bicycle to prove its sodium-ion battery concept really works, reports Green Car Congress.
The use of sodium in batteries is nothing knew. The main advantage of a sodium-ion battery over a lithium-ion battery is reportedly the cost. Faradion says its battery design could be 30% per kWh cheaper than a comparable lithium-ion battery. Sodium-ion batteries are also safer in terms of thermal runaway scenarios (i.e. fires), and less environmentally caustic. Unfortunately, these batteries are also much larger for the same energy density, which is why many automakers have dismissed them.
Undeterred, Faradion has built a 480Wh battery pack for its first vehicle, an electric bicycle, hoping to demonstrate that sodium-ion batteries have a place at the table, though only 250Wh are needed for the e-bike itself. The sodium-ion battery was developed in conjunction with Williams Advanced Engineering of the Williams Formula One Team, and the famed racing outfit also provided the controller for the e-bike.
A proof of concept is one thing, though — powering a full-sized vehicle with a sodium-ion battery is something else entirely. While the 30% lower production price is attractive, Tesla’s Elon Musk thinks he can bring lithium-ion battery costs down to $100 a kWh without any major chemistry changes. Volkswagen is placing a bet on solid-state batteries in the meantime, and one can’t count out even far-out ideas like the aluminum-air battery pack.
It’s still anybody’s game.