Lithium-sulfur battery could see fivefold increase in e-bike battery life

A team of scientists have created a lithium-sulfur battery – which they claim could offer five times more energy than a lithium-ion battery.

The researchers say the battery could power a smartphone for five continuous days or enable an electric vehicle to drive more than 1,000 kilometres without recharging.

The new battery relies on a traditional binding agent that is processed in a way to form bridging bonds between the carbon matrix and sulfur particles, that allow for extra space as the battery expands during charging.

“I created a web-like network where only a minimum amount of binder is in place between the neighbouring particles, leaving increased space for accommodating the changes in the structure and the resultant stress,” Monash University’s Dr Mahdokht Shaibani, the study’s lead author, told New Atlas.

The results were published in Science Advances, where the team said: “Lithium-sulfur batteries can displace lithium-ion by delivering higher specific energy. Presently, however, the superior energy performance fades rapidly when the sulfur electrode is loaded to the required levels — five to ten mg cm−2 —  due to substantial volume change of lithiation/delithiation and the resultant stresses.

“Inspired by the classical approaches in particle agglomeration theories, we found an approach that places minimum amounts of a high-modulus binder between neighbouring particles, leaving increased space for material expansion and ion diffusion.

“These expansion-tolerant electrodes with loadings up to 15 mg cm−2 yield high gravimetric (>1200 mA·hour g−1) and areal (19 mA·hour cm−2) capacities. The cells are stable for more than 200 cycles, unprecedented in such thick cathodes, with Coulombic efficiency above 99%.”

The researchers have now filed a patent for the technology.

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