You shouldn’t be testing a battery by putting it on your tongue, but researchers from Monash are testing your discipline. They’ve added a spoonful of sugar to the batteries that could soon power electronics, electric vehicles, and even submarines.
The folks at the Monash Energy Institute, assisted by the CSIRO, have created a longer-lasting, lighter, more sustainable rival to lithium-ion batteries, simply by adding sugar. They say using a glucose-based additive on the positive electrode has allowed them to stabilise lithium-sulfur battery technology.
In theory, lithium-sulfur batteries could store two to five times more energy than lithium-ion batteries of the same weight. But the problem has been with the electrodes deteriorating rapidly, resulting in the batteries breaking down.
The Monash team demonstrated last year they could avoid this, and now adding sugar to the mix, they say they have stabilised the sulfur, preventing it from moving and blanketing the lithium electrode.
Impressively, test-cell prototypes constructed by the team have been shown to have a charge-discharge life of at least 1,000 cycles, while still holding far more capacity than equivalent lithium-ion batteries. This means each charge lasts longer, and the battery’s life is extended.
Manufacturing also doesn’t require exotic, toxic, and expensive materials, so that’s a plus.
Now, energy research and innovation company Enserv is jumping on board, hoping to develop and manufacture the batteries in Australia, promising given in 2019 Australia accounted for nearly 53% of global lithium production.
Enserv wants to use the tech to enter the growing market for electric vehicles and electronic devices.
“We plan to make the first lithium-sulfur batteries in Australia using Australian lithium within about five years,” Enserv Australia managing director Mark Gustowski revealed.