Lithium-Sulphur Battery
Associate Professor Matthew Hill, Dr Mahdokht Shaibani and Professor Mainak Majumder with the lithium-sulphur battery design.

A team of scientists at Monash University in Australia developed a new lithium-sulphur battery, which promises cheaper, greener supercharging capabilities.

The research team indicated that the lithium-sulphur (Li-S) battery has enough power to run a smartphone for five days or enable an electric vehicle to drive more than 1,000km without needing to ‘refuel’.

Research team member Professor Mainak Majumder said this development was a breakthrough for Australian industry and could transform the way phones, cars, computers and solar grids are manufactured in the future.

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“Successful fabrication and implementation of Li-S batteries in cars and grids will capture a more significant part of the estimated $213 billion value chain of Australian lithium, and will revolutionise the Australian vehicle market and provide all Australians with a cleaner and more reliable energy market,” Professor Majumder said.

“Our research team has received more than $2.5 million in funding from government and international industry partners to trial this battery technology in cars and grids from this year, which we’re most excited about.”

Lithium-sulphur battery capturing the battery storage market

Inspired by unique bridging architecture first recorded in processing detergent powders in the 1970s, the team engineered a method that created bonds between particles to accommodate stress and deliver a level of stability not seen in any battery to date.

Attractive performance, along with lower manufacturing costs, abundant supply of material, ease of processing and reduced environmental footprint make this new battery design attractive for future real-world applications, according to Associate Professor Matthew Hill.

“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 Hill.

Battery storage is a key topic at the African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa conference. Click here to register to attend or for more information about the event.

Patent and prototype secures Li-S commercialisation

Dr Mahdokht Shaibani from Monash University’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering led the international research team that developed the ultra-high capacity Li-S battery that has better performance and less environmental impact than current lithium-ion products.

The researchers have an approved filed patent (PCT/AU 2019/051239) for their manufacturing process, and prototype cells have been successfully fabricated by German R&D partners Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology.

Some of the world’s largest manufacturers of lithium batteries in China and Europe have expressed interest in upscaling production, with further testing to take place in Australia in early 2020.

The study was published in Science Advances on Saturday, 4 January 2020 – the first research on Li-S batteries to feature in this prestigious international publication.

Using the same materials in standard lithium-ion batteries, researchers reconfigured the design of sulphur cathodes so they could accommodate higher stress loads without a drop in overall capacity or performance.

The research team comprises

Dr Mahdokht Shaibani, Dr Meysam Sharifzadeh Mirshekarloo, Dr M.C. Dilusha Cooray and Professor Mainak Majumder (Monash University); Dr Ruhani Singh, Dr Christopher Easton, Dr Anthony Hollenkamp (CSIRO) and Associate Professor Matthew Hill (CSIRO and Monash University); Nicolas Eshraghi (University of Liege); Dr Thomas Abendroth, Dr Susanne Dorfler, Dr Holger Althues and Professor Stefan Kaskel (Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology).

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