Lithium sulfur battery cell prototype boosts performance

Lithium sulfur battery cell prototype boosts performance

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Prototype cells of a new lithium sulfur battery design have been developed in Germany.

The technology, developed by Monash University in Australia, will see further testing in cars and solar grids later this year.

The team at Monash say the lithium sulphur (LiS) battery design could be four times more efficient than today’s lithium ion cells, powering a smartphone fro five days or giving an electric vehicle a range of over 1000km. The researchers have filed a patent (PCT/AU 2019/051239) for their manufacturing process, and prototype cells have been successfully fabricated by German R&D partners Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology who were also part of the research team.

Lithium sulfur battery technology has been in development for many years, driven by companies such as OXIS Energy and research in the US (see links below). These high-capacity sulfur cathode have a capacity of 1670 mA·hour g−1 but struggle with the change in volume during charging and discharging, and this limits how many times the cells can be used. The team at Monash used a binder between neighboring particles in the sulfur cathode, leaving increased space for material expansion and ion diffusion. These expansion-tolerant electrodes with loadings up to 15 mg cm−2 gave high gravimetric (>1200 mA·hour g−1) and areal (19 mA·hour cm−2) capacities and allows the cells to be stable for more than 200 cycles with Coulombic efficiency above 99 percent.

“Successful fabrication and implementation of LiS batteries in cars and grids will capture a more significant part of the estimated $213 billion value chain of Australian lithium, and will revolutionise the Australian vehicle market and provide all Australians with a cleaner and more reliable energy market,” said Professor Mainak Majumder from Monash University’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

“Our research team has received more than AU$2.5m in funding from government and international industry partners to trial this battery technology in cars and grids from this year, which we’re most excited about,” he added.

Using the same materials in standard lithium-ion batteries, researchers changed the design of sulphur cathodes so they could accommodate higher stress loads without reducing the overall capacity or performance.“This approach not only favours high performance metrics and long cycle life, but is also simple and extremely low-cost to manufacture, using water-based processes, and can lead to significant reductions in environmentally hazardous waste,” said Matthew Hill, associate professor at Monash.

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