To deliver fundamental changes in battery performance in the medium to long term, industry must look to chemistries beyond Li-ion. Of these, lithium-sulfur (Li-S) represents one of the most attractive technologies available.
Compared with Li-ion batteries, Li-S cells store more energy per unit weight and can operate in a wider operating temperature range. They may also offer safety and cost improvements. Yet the widespread use of Li-S faces major hurdles, which stem from sulfur’s insulating nature, migration of discharge products leading to the loss of active material, and degradation of the metallic lithium anode. Scientists and engineers need to know more about how the system performs and degrades in order to overcome current limitations in the power density and lifespan of Li-S cells that could unlock their use.
LiSTAR is designed to address these challenges. The consortium will generate new knowledge, materials and engineering solutions, thanks to its dual focus on fundamental research at material and cell level, and an improved approach to system engineering. The project will address four key areas of research: cathodes; electrolytes; modelling platforms; and device engineering. In doing so, the LiSTAR consortium is seeking to enable rapid improvements in Li-S technologies, with the aim of securing the UK as the global hub for the research, development and deployment of this emergent technology.
Milestones (to September 2023):
In doing so the project aims to pave the way for a Li-S cell with significantly improved operating temperature window, power and energy densities, and cycle life.
LiSTAR will track the technical requirements for Li-S batteries in strategic markets with near term opportunities such as aerospace and military applications. The project anticipates that the first viable commercial products will be for niche markets, which will subsequently stimulate others (including automotive). The consortium’s industry partners (including a leading Li-S battery manufacturer, leaders in the battery chemicals supply chain and developers of battery management systems) will actively participate in the project. Alongside the research partners, they have the capability to fast-track research to higher technology readiness levels and efficiently provide proof-of-concept manufacture of the new developments.
List of partners:
Professor Paul Shearing, University College London
For further details see the project’s website.
Schematic illustrating Li-S challenges and LiSTAR’s technical approach for overcoming them.