Sulfur-ion Batteries to be Cheaper, More Energy Dense

Sulfur Batteries

A new type of battery that both lithium and sulfur ions is currently being developed at the DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and it promises to outwit, outplay, and outlast the best batteries currently on the market, for a fraction of the cost. How big of a boost does sulfur give “conventional” lithium-ions? The lab’s researchers are reporting that their sulfur ion batteries have approximately four times the energy density of the lithium-ion batteries currently found in electric cars like the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S.

The best part of all this is the cost-cutting. “Sulfur is practically free,” noted Chengdu Liang, the scientist who led the ORNL research team. “Not only does sulfur store much more energy than the transition metal compounds used in lithium-ion battery cathodes, but a lithium-sulfur device could help recycle a waste product into a useful technology. Our battery design has real potential to reduce cost … compared with existing lithium-ion technologies,” Mr. Liang concluded.

Although the technology is still in the demonstration stage, the team believes that the research can be quickly scaled for commercial applications. A patent on the design – which uses a solid electrolyte material (as opposed to the liquid electrolytes used in conventional batteries) as well as a new cathode and lithium anode for an energy-dense, all-solid battery – is currently pending.

Would a Chevy Spark with a 300-400 miles of range that costs under $20K be a winner? If Liang is right, we might soon find out!


Source | Photos: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, via Ecoseed.

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.