Partnership to develop next-gen sodium–sulfur batteries

BASF Australia Ltd

Tuesday, 19 November, 2019

Partnership to develop next-gen sodium–sulfur batteries

Japanese ceramics manufacturer NGK INSULATORS and BASF New Business, a wholly owned subsidiary of German chemical company BASF, have entered into a joint development agreement (JDA) to develop the next generation of sodium‒sulfur (NaS) batteries.

NGK’s NaS battery is claimed to be the world’s first commercialised megawatt-class battery which has the capacity to store large amounts of electricity for hours, with features that are said to include larger capacity, higher energy density and longer life compared to other battery technologies. These features are beneficial for stationary applications — in contrast to lithium-ion batteries, for example, which are more suited to delivering high power over shorter periods.

NaS battery systems support the increasing integration of fluctuating renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, into the grid. They also enable deferral of transmission upgrade, because the electricity does not have to be transmitted immediately after being produced but can be discharged on demand. Furthermore, NAS batteries are used for the stabilisation of electricity supply and emergency power supply for industrial customers and micro/off grids. Through these applications, NaS batteries help to reduce energy costs and environmental load.

BASF and NGK already announced a sales partnership agreement for sodium‒sulfur batteries back in June and are now seeking to develop the next generation of such batteries by making use of BASF’s extensive chemistry expertise and NGK’s expertise in battery design and manufacturing. The project should allow the companies to expand the performance range of NaS batteries and thus open up new markets.

“Thanks to its unique properties, sodium‒sulfur technology is ideally suited for the steadily growing market for long-duration energy storage,” said Dr Frank Prechtl, Director Business Build-Up E-Power-Management at BASF New Business. With our envisioned technical advancements, we want to significantly broaden the application spectrum for these batteries.”

“As we move towards the next generation of sodium–sulfur batteries, the interplay between the chemical processes taking place at battery cell level and the battery modules as a whole system becomes more and more crucial,” added Tatsumi Ichioka, General Manager of the NAS battery division at NGK. “BASF’s chemical expertise and our know-how in the design and production of battery modules and systems complement each other perfectly here.”

Image caption: Tatsumi Ichioka from NGK INSULATORS and Dr Frank Prechtl from BASF New Business.

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