While lithum ions are the electrode of choice for making rechargeable batteries at the moment, a team of scientists believe they've developed a better alternative using lithium-sulfur.
Dr Mahdokht Shaibani of Monash University, the lead author of the study, told New Atlas that they faced major hurdles in coming up with a battery design that would last very long without failing; this is because the storage capacity of the sulfur electrode is so large that it can't deal with the stress and breaks apart. The stress distorts the components and damages the polymer binder that holds the materials together, which rapidly deteriorates the battery, so Shaibani and his team got to work coming up with a new binding process that allowed for extra space between the carbon matrix and sulfur particles as the battery expands during charging.
"I created a web-like network where only a minimum amount of binder is in place between the neighboring particles, leaving increased space for accommodating the changes in the structure and the resultant stress", explained Shaibani.
Publishing their results in Science Advances, the team's new battery has shown very promising results, showing a charging and discharging efficiency of over 99%: "To the best of our knowledge this is unprecedented for such high capacity electrodes", Shaibani said.
It could have huge implications for all devices with a rechargeable battery, and could power a smartphone for five days or allow an electric car to drive over 1,000km on a single charge... imagine how much range that would give your e-bike battery!
A patent has been filed and it's set to be trialled more through the year; while the researchers say it's also simple and cheap to manufacture using water-based processes, so it also ticks the eco-friendly box and reduces hazardous waste.
There's something of an arms race going on when it comes to developing new tech that could lead to bigger range and smaller batteries; recently Bosch announced they are developing microchips made out of a material called silicon carbide (SiC), that the electronics giant describe as "an extraordinary material that will set the pace in power electronics". SiC has existed for quite some time, but this might be the first time they will be applied to e-bike systems.