Monash Energy Institute scientists have managed to stabilize lithium-sulfur battery technology with – yes, you read that correct – sugar!
According to the Monash team who were assisted by CSIRO, using a glucose-based additive on the positive electrode proved worthwhile in creating their longer-lasting, lighter, more sustainable rival to the lithium-ion batteries that we find in almost everything from aviation to electric vehicles to submarines.
“In less than a decade, this technology could lead to vehicles including electric buses and trucks that can travel from Melbourne to Sydney without recharging,” says lead author and professor Mainak Majumder.
“It could also enable innovation in delivery and agricultural drones where light weight is paramount.”
Just last year the Monash team demonstrated that they could open the structure of the sulfur electrode to accommodate expansion and make it more accessible to lithium.
Now they have gone one step further by stabilising the sulfur, preventing it from moving and blanketing the lithium electrode, by incorporating sugar into the web-like architecture of the electrode.
Tests show that the team’s cell prototypes possess a charge-discharge life of at least 1000 cycles, while still holding far more capacity than equivalent lithium-ion batteries.
“So each charge lasts longer, extending the battery’s life,” says first author and PhD student Yingyi Huang. “And manufacturing the batteries doesn’t require exotic, toxic, and expensive materials.”
Second author Dr Mahdokht Shaibani adds that while many of the challenges on the cathode side of the battery has been solved by their team, there is still need for further innovation into the protection of the lithium metal anode to enable large-scale uptake of this promising technology – innovations which she says might be ‘right around the corner’.
The new ‘sugary’ process was developed by the Monash team with significant contribution from Dr Matthew Hill’s research group in CSIRO Manufacturing.
Image and content: Monash Energy Institute/Monash University