Boosting The Next Generation Of Batteries

New year, new batteries! Researchers from Hong Kong have proposed a novel design for lithium-sulfur batteries that significantly improves their performance.

AsianScientist (Jan. 4, 2021) – Having won its inventors the 2019 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, lithium-ion batteries heralded a revolution in wireless technology. Now, a team of researchers from Hong Kong have come up with a novel design for a lithium-sulfur (Li-S) battery with the potential to succeed today’s lithium-ion batteries. Their study was published in Nature Nanotechnology.

From smartphones, drones and electric vehicles, devices powered by Li-ion batteries have become ubiquitous in modern life. However, Li-S batteries have been proposed as cheaper, greener and yet, more powerful, alternatives to Li-ion batteries.

After all, Li-S batteries can potentially offer an energy density of over 500 Wh/kg—significantly better than the Li-ion batteries’ limit of 300 Wh/kg. This higher energy density means that the 400 km driving range of a Li-ion powered electric vehicle can be doubled if powered instead by Li-S batteries.

Despite the promise of Li-S batteries, one key issue has so far prevented their commercialization on an industrial scale: the polysulfide shuttle effect. In typical Li-S batteries, sulfur ions or sulfides progressively leak from the cathode and corrode lithium—resulting in short life cycles.

To address this issue, an international research team led by Professor Zhao Tianshou from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology proposed a novel cathode design with the potential to achieve even better Li-S battery performance.

The team’s design involves a porous material that encapsulates sulfur nanoparticles, with numerous binding sites embedded within. These sites effectively immobilize and absorb the sulfide ions that leak from the cathode, eliminating the shuttle effect and corrosion of lithium. In doing so, the new design delivered an increased energy density beyond 300 Wh/kg, with an efficiency of over 95 percent for 80 cycles.

“Our novel electrode design concept and the associated breakthrough in performance represent a big step towards the practical use of a next-generation battery that is even more powerful and longer-lasting than today’s lithium-ion batteries,” concluded Zhao.

The article can be found at: Zhao et al. (2020) A High-energy and Long-cycling Lithium–sulfur Pouch Cell via a Macroporous Catalytic Cathode With Double-end Binding Sites.


Source: Hong Kong University of Science and Technology; Photo: Shutterstock.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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