Australian Battery Technology Shows Promise for Grid, EV Performance
Kyle Maxey posted on January 13, 2020 |
A new Li-S battery configuration unifies manufacturing ease with high performance EVs.

Australian researchers at the University of Monash have announced a breakthrough in battery production and efficiency that could dramatically transform energy storage.

According to a statement released by the university, engineers in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering are on the verge of commercializing an ultra-high capacity Li-S battery that displays better performance than other storage methods and is simpler to manufacture than previous battery systems.

Critical to achieving the joint goals of higher performance and ease of manufacture was the Monash team’s use of existing battery designs. While the material composition of the team’s Li-S battery is the same as everyday Li-ion batteries, the researchers applied an observation made in the 1970s to the sulfur cathodes embedded in the Li-S systems.

Some 40-odd years ago, while processing detergent powders, chemists recorded a unique process where a dry mixture of binder particles would begin constructing bridges between disparate particles to create a larger binder whole when introduced to water. These bridges would quickly condense the binder material into a smaller volume and restrict the flow of water further into the binder body.

The Monash team leveraged the understanding of this “bridging” phenomenon to reconfigure the chemical bonds between the sulfur cathodes in their battery so that they would accommodate greater energetic stress without losing capacity or performance.

“This approach not only favors high performance metrics and long cycle life, but is also simple and extremely low cost to manufacture,” said Monash’s Professor Mathew Hill.

Currently, battery manufacturers in China and Europe, both home to some of the world’s largest battery manufacturing operations, have expressed interest in upscaling the Monash operation.

As for the environmental impact of the new battery technology, Hill highlights the new battery’s production method: “[U]sing water-based processes… can lead to significant reductions in environmentally hazardous waste".

Not to mention, higher performance batteries could lead to better energy storage and further incentive to invest in wind and solar energy generation, both considered green but intermittent energy solutions.

If upscaling production of the Monash Li-S battery is successful, researchers predict that the storage system could find its way into applications that are far reaching, but for many, the most exciting revelation of this technology might be its potential to vastly extend electric vehicle range. In that regard the Monash team believes its batteries could make it possible to drive 1,000km without the need to top up.

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