Researchers at Monash University have developed a new lithium-sulphur battery design that reduces the amount of lithium required in a single battery.
Lithium-sulphur (Li-S) batteries are an emerging energy storage technology that use metallic lithium and sulphur to deliver more energy per gram than lithium-ion batteries.
The new design outlined by PhD student Declan McNamara, Professor Matthew Hill, and Professor Mainak Majumder of Monash Engineering with Dr Makhdokht Shaibani of RMIT University, includes a nanoporous polymer-coated lithium foil anode.
The researchers say applying the nanoporous polymer directly onto the lithium foil anode means the battery uses less lithium, has more energy per unit volume, lasts longer and will be half the price of lithium-ion batteries.
McNamara says the thin polymer coating on lithium significantly improved the number of times the battery could be cycled.
“The polymer contains tiny holes less than a nanometre in size – one billionth of a metre – which allow lithium ions to move freely while blocking other chemicals that would attack the lithium. The coating also acts as a scaffold for lithium, and helps it charge and discharge repeatedly.
The new design does not require nickel or cobalt, removing the need for minerals that have a significant environmental and social cost.
Professor Majumder says these developments are promising steps towards more widespread adoption of Li-S batteries and other lithium metal-based energy storage systems.
“Li-metal protection technologies will become crucial in our quest towards energy dense and sustainable batteries of the future,” he says.
Professor Hill says the technology could make an immediate impact.
"The market for electric vehicles, drones and electronic devices is on a steep growth pattern and this research is commercially ready for manufacturing to support that growth.
“Producing more economical and environmentally sensitive battery options in Australia would be a great use of this technology, and we look forward to working with commercial partners to develop and manufacture this technology."