Lithium-Sulfur battery technology may be more powerful and less expensive than lithium-ion [Li-ion], but also suffers from a greatly reduced lifespan.
Battery technology is one of the leading drivers of price of electric vehicles. Bigger batteries give better range, but add thousands of dollars to the cost of the vehicle. On the other hand, smaller batteries may be cheaper, but have a short range. The balance between cost and range is a difficult one to achieve, which is why battery technology is so important. Li-ion batteries are the best balance of range and longevity, nearly ubiquitous in the electric vehicle market.
Lithium-sulfur battery technology holds more energy than li-ion, over 500Wh/kg compared to just 116Wh/kg in the industry-leading Tesla Model S. The only problem is that the lithium-sulfur battery can only be charged a couple hundred times. Metallic lithium anodes grow into the electrolyte, diminishing their performance with each cycle, and in worst-case-scenarios even contact the cathode to cause a short circuit. A recent development by scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS in Dresden, Germany, could increase that lifespan by seven times.
The new anode developed in Dresden is made of silicon-carbon instead of metallic lithium, which doesn’t change as much when cycling. Current lithium-sulfur battery technology would give an equivalent Tesla Model S 85kWh a lifespan of just 60,000mi, which isn’t much. The improved anode material developed in Dresden could give an equivalent Tesla Model S 85kWh better than 400,000mi lifespan.