A number of interesting things have occurred at the AAAS meeting in San Jose the last few days, here is one that caught my eye. As many readers know, I have an electric car (seen above), which runs on 12 volt Lead-acid batteries which are so heavy that most of the energy to the motor is used to move that heavy mass of lead around. Electric cars don’t make a lot of sense for an all-around car, but for in-city use, such as errands or delivery, they could be quite viable with better battery technology.
This newer Lithium-sulfur batteries show promise beyond the current favorite lithium-ion batteries due to their energy density and lighter weight:
The lithium–sulphur battery (Li–S battery) is a rechargeable battery, notable for its high energy density. By virtue of the low atomic weight of lithium and moderate weight of sulfur, Li–S batteries are relatively light; about the density of water. They were demonstrated on the longest and highest-altitude solar-powered airplane flight in August, 2008.
Lithium–sulfur batteries may succeed lithium-ion cells because of their higher energy density and reduced cost from the use of sulfur. Currently the best Li-S batteries offer energy densities on the order of 500 W·h/kg, significantly better than most lithium-ion batteries which are in the 150 to 200 range. Li-S batteries with up to 1,500 charge and discharge cycles have been demonstrated, yet are not commercially available (as of early 2014). (Wikipedia)
Let’s hope that they come to the market soon, not just for electric cars, but for many other applications that need high energy density and low weight.
Leading scholar presents advances in research of electric car batteries at AAAS
Lithium-sulphur batteries promise to extend the range of electric cars at least three times over current lithium ion cells and at much lower cost, making electric cars practical and potentially more appealing to a mass market. Linda Nazar, professor of chemistry from the Faculty of Science at the University of Waterloo, will present a perspective on the promise and reality of lithium-sulphur batteries at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting in San Jose, California. She will highlight recent innovations in nanomaterial strategies and new electrolytes that can help these future-generation energy storage systems realize their potential in emerging markets.
Professor Nazar and her research group are best known for reigniting interest in the lithium-sulphur battery by proving that such a battery, once considered impossible, could be a reality. Recently, her group resolved a major technical hurdle by developing the first high-performance sulphur cathode with the use of manganese dioxide nanosheets.
Nazar is Canada Research Chair in Solid State Energy Materials and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. She is a member of BASF’s Research Network on Electrochemistry and Batteries, and serves as a lead scientist on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint Center for Energy Storage Research.
New Materials and Approaches for Advanced Batteries (part of the Next-Generation Batteries for Mobile Devices and the Grid symposium