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Nanomaterials Keep Pushing Lithium-Sulfur Battery Capabilities for EVs

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have developed a nanomaterial powder that can be added to the cathode of lithium-sulfur batteries to capture problematic polysulfides that usually cause them to fail after a few charges.

The nanomaterial powder is a metal organic framework (MOF) in which metal ions are coordinated with rigid organic molecules to form a porous material that can be one-, two-, or three-dimensional. The research paper was published in the journal Nano Letters.

“Lithium-sulfur batteries have the potential to power tomorrow’s electric vehicles, but they need to last longer after each charge and be able to be repeatedly recharged,” said materials chemist Jie Xiao at PNNL in a press release. “Our metal organic framework may offer a new way to make that happen.”

Recent nanomaterial research in batteries has been turning away from both lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries and their anodes to alternative lithium-sulfur batteries and their cathodes. The reason for this is that lithium-sulfur batteries can hold as much as four times more energy per mass than lithium-ion batteries, making possible the kind of driving ranges for all-electric vehicles (EVs) that Li-ion batteries have failed to deliver thus far.
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