Washington: A University of Arizona-led research team has discovered a simple process for making a new lightweight plastic from the inexpensive and abundant element sulfur.
The new chemical process can transform waste sulfur into a lightweight plastic that may improve batteries for electric cars, the researchers said.
The new plastic has other potential uses, including optical uses.
The team has successfully used the new plastic to make lithium-sulfur batteries.
Next-generation lithium-sulfur, or Li-S, batteries will be better for electric and hybrid cars and for military uses because they are more efficient, lighter and cheaper than those currently used, lead researcher Jeffrey Pyun said, a UA associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry.
The new plastic has great promise as something that can be produced easily and inexpensively on an industrial scale, he said.
The team`s discovery could provide a new use for the sulfur left over when oil and natural gas are refined into cleaner-burning fuels.
The researchers have filed an international patent for their new chemical process and for the new polymeric electrode materials for Li-S batteries.
Detail of their research will appear online in Nature Chemistry .