Simply by adding sugar, researchers from the Monash Energy Institute have created a longer-lasting, lighter, more sustainable rival to the lithium-ion batteries that are essential for aviation, electric vehicles and submarines.
The Monash team, assisted by CSIRO, report in today's edition of Nature Communications that using a glucose-based additive on the positive electrode they have managed to stabilise lithium-sulfur battery technology, long touted as the basis for the next generation of batteries.
"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. It could also enable innovation in delivery and agricultural drones where light weight is paramount," says lead author Professor Mainak Majumder, from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Associate Director of the Monash Energy Institute.
In theory, lithium-sulfur batteries could store two to five times more energy than lithium-ion batteries of the same weight. The problem has been that, in use the electrodes deteriorated rapidly, and the batteries broke down. There were two reasons for this -- the positive sulfur electrode suffered from substantial expansion and contraction weakening it and making it inaccessible to lithium, and the negative lithium electrode became contaminated by sulfur compounds.
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