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Long-life lithium sulfide batteries

Scientists from the US and China have identified a polymer that makes lithium sulfide batteries last longer.

Amongst batteries in-use today, lithium ion ones produce more energy per unit mass than most others. However, electric vehicles demand even higher energy batteries with longer charge intervals.

Lithium sulfide batteries can hold much more energy than present-day lithium ion batteries but are limited by their short battery life. This is due to an irregular dispersion of lithium in their electrode slurry, as well as soluble polysulfides being lost when they dissolve in the electrolyte.

Initial numerical modelling followed by lab tests lead Yi Cui at Stanford University and his co-workers to discover that polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) can be used to hold a battery’s lithium sulfide and polysulfides during cycling. The PVP allows lithium ions to spread out more smoothly throughout the cathode, preventing the formation of large particles and minimising the loss of polysulfides. What results is a battery with a much longer lifespan – even after 500 cycles, the decay in the battery’s capacity was found to be extremely small.
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