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New lithium-sulphur battery offers five days of phone charge

Australian scientists may have cracked the problem of lithium-sulphur batteries

Researchers claim they have developed the world’s most efficient lithium-sulphur battery, capable of keeping a smartphone charged for five days while making less of an environmental impact than current lithium-ion batteries.

The team at Monash University in Australia say the battery can outperform market leading batteries by more than four times, and have an approved filed patent for commercialising the new technology in the future.

Testing of the battery in cars and solar grids is planned to take place in Australia in the coming year.

The team, funded by the Australian government and whose research is published in the journal Science Advances, isn’t the first to be interested in the capabilities of lithium-sulphur batteries; seen as an attractive alternative to lithium-ion due to their higher energy density.

Previous attempts to mass commercialise them have met with challenges, however, as the makeup of the lithium-sulphur battery tends to lead to a ‘leakage’ of material from the sulphur cathode, degrading the lithium anode and resulting in a shorter overall lifespan.

The new battery is designed in such a way as to leave more space for ion diffusion, which puts much less stress on the sulphur cathode. It’s a solution to maintaining the lithium-sulphur chemistry that “will revolutionise the Australian vehicle market and provide all Australians with a cleaner and more reliable energy market,” said lead researcher Professor Mainak Majumder in a statement.

While further testing is planned before bringing the battery to market, the low manufacturing costs and reduced environmental footprint of the process compared to current batteries is an appealing prospect.

“This approach not only favours high performance metrics and long cycle life, but is also simple and extremely low-cost to manufacture, using water-based processes, and can lead to significant reductions in environmentally hazardous waste, ” said associate professor Matthew Hill, who also worked on the team.

Image credit: Monash University

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