New lithium-sulphur battery is cheaper, greener, and faster

The new lithium-sulphur batteries promote fast lithium transfer, improving the performance and lifetime of the batteries.

Researchers at Monash University have created a new lithium-sulphur battery interlayer that improves the performance and lifetime of batteries while promoting fast lithium transfer.

With the increasing swap of fossil fuel power for emissions-free electrification, lithium batteries are becoming a vital storage tool in facilitating energy transition. They are the main choice of power for household devices like mobile phones, laptops, and electric vehicles to industries such as aviation and marine technology.

The lithium battery interlayer sits in the middle of the battery and keeps the electrodes apart, helping lithium get from one side of the battery to the other faster, Australian Research Council Future fellow professor Matthew Hill said.

“The new interlayer overcomes the slower charge and discharge rates of previous generation lithium-sulphur batteries,” Hill said.

Lithium-sulphur batteries offer higher energy density and reduced costs, compared to the previous generation of lithium-ion batteries. They can store two to five times as much energy by weight than generation batteries, delivering high capacity and longer life.

The interlayer stops polysulfides, a chemical that forms inside this type of battery, from moving across the battery. Polysulfides interfere with the anode and shorten the battery life, which caused previous batteries to deteriorate rapidly and break down, PhD candidate Ehsan Ghasemiestabanati said.

“It means the battery can be charged and discharged as many as 2,000 times without failing,” Ghasemiestabanati said.

Lithium-sulphur batteries do not rely on metals like cobalt, nickel, and manganese – critical minerals which are found in lithium-ion batteries and are dwindling in supply globally.

Sulphur has abundant supply in Australia and is considered a waste or by-product.

“These batteries are not dependent on minerals that are going to lack supply as the electrification revolution proceeds,” Hill said. “This is another step towards cheaper, cleaner and higher-performing batteries that could be made within Australia.”