New battery design will one day help take electric cars on longer drives

Last Updated: Friday, January 10, 2014 - 15:31

Washington: Researchers have developed a new design for lithium-sulfur batteries that has been shown to significantly extend the technology`s lifespan, bringing it closer to commercial use.

A "hybrid" anode developed at the Department of Energy`s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory could quadruple the life of lithium-sulfur batteries.

" Lithium-sulfur batteries could one day help us take electric cars on longer drives and store renewable wind energy more cheaply, but some technical challenges have to be overcome first," PNNL Laboratory Fellow Jun Liu , who is the paper`s corresponding author, said.

Today`s electric vehicles are commonly powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which are also being used to store renewable energy. But the chemistry of lithium-ion batteries limits how much energy they can store.

One promising solution is the lithium-sulfur battery, which can hold as much as four times more energy per mass than lithium-ion batteries. This would enable electric vehicles to drive longer on a single charge and help store more renewable energy.

The down side of lithium-sulfur batteries, however, is they have a much shorter lifespan because they can`t be charged as many times as lithium-ion batteries.

The lithium-sulfur battery`s main obstacles are unwanted side reactions that cut the battery`s life short.

Most lithium-sulfur battery research to date has centered on stopping sulfur leakage from the cathode. But PNNL researchers determined stopping that leakage can be particularly challenging.

Besides, recent research has shown a battery with a dissolved cathode can still work. So the team focused on the battery `s other side by adding a protective shield to the anode.

The study is published in journal Nature Communications.


First Published: Friday, January 10, 2014 - 15:31

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