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New Lithium Sulfur Battery is Cheaper, Lacks Titanium

MX Phase nanolayers (c) Drexel University
MX Phase nanolayers (c) Drexel University

I don’t think that being bulletproof, and having nothing to lose, is a characteristic desired of batteries. But a revolutionary new material will soon make Lithium Sulfur batteries more reliable because titanium is removed from the base material.

One of the limiting factors for the widespread adoption of electric vehicles are the batteries. Don’t get me wrong, Lithium ion batteries are great and all, but wouldn’t it be better if we can reduce their weight, increase their energy density, and even reduce their cost?

Researchers from Drexel have brought us closer to that. So, I guess it’s time to take out the fine china and celebrate. Rather, the more accurate term is it’s time to take something out of the ceramic that’s similar to that used for our fine china.

The ceramic we’re referring to belongs to a special class called MAX phased ceramics, in this case one made out of Ti2SC. These ceramics form very thin layers of material, so thin that they’re referred to as nanolaminates. What happens is that an atom thick layer of metal forms above another atom thick layer of material A that is interspersed with element X. Hence, the resulting sandwich is called a MAX phase and in our case the M is Titanium, the A is Carbon and the X is Sulfur.

Now if Sia is Titanium, then it’s gonna be eased out of this material so that what we have left is the Sulfur and Carbon nano layer. I don’t know if Sia’s singing did the trick but the team from Drexel led by Meng-Qiang Zhao were able to do so.

The question is, what now? The remaining Sulfur Carbon nano layers can now become the cathodes of Lithium-Sulfur batteries. This will help resolve some of the issues with current generation Lithium Sulfur batteries that have a tendency to degrade fast. The cathodes currently used apparently interact with the sulfur in the battery electrolyte, not only degrading chemically but physically as well.

While there are still issues to address with regards to the Lithium sulfur battery degradation, this is a significant step towards the direction to make these lighter, more energy dense, and cheaper batteries available soon.

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