|Specific energy||500 W·h/kg demonstrated|
|Energy density||350 W·h/l|
|Charge/discharge efficiency||C/5 nominal|
|Nominal cell voltage||cell voltage varies nonlinearly in the range 2.5–1.7 during discharge; batteries often packaged for 3V|
The lithium–sulfur battery (Li–S battery) is a rechargeable battery, notable for its high energy density. By virtue of the low atomic weight of lithium and moderate weight of sulfur, Li–S batteries are relatively light; about the density of water. They were demonstrated on the longest and highest-altitude solar-powered airplane flight in August, 2008.
Lithium–sulfur batteries may succeed lithium-ion cells because of their higher energy density and reduced cost from the use of sulfur. Currently the best Li-S batteries offer energy densities on the order of 500 W·h/kg, significantly better than most lithium-ion batteries which are in the 150 to 200 range. Li-S batteries with up to 1,500 charge and discharge cycles have been demonstrated, yet are not commercially available (as of early 2014).
Chemical processes in the Li–S cell include lithium dissolution from the anode surface (and incorporation into alkali metal polysulfide salts) during discharge, and reverse lithium plating to the anode while charging. This contrasts with conventional lithium-ion cells, where the lithium ions are intercalated in the anode and cathodes. Each sulfur atom can host two lithium ions. Typically, lithium-ion batteries accommodate only 0.5–0.7 lithium ions per host atom. Consequently Li-S allows for a much higher lithium storage density. Polysulfides are reduced on the cathode surface in sequence while the cell is discharging:
8 → Li
8 → Li
6 → Li
4 → Li
2S → Li
2 → Li
3 → Li
4 → Li
6 → Li
8 → S
These reactions are analogous to those in the sodium–sulfur battery.
Most use a carbon/sulfur cathode and a lithium anode. Sulfur is very cheap, but lacks electroconductivity. Sulfur alone is 5×10−30 S cm−1 at 25 °C.[clarification needed] A carbon coating provides the missing electroconductivity. Carbon nanofibers provide an effective electron conduction path and structural integrity, at the disadvantage of higher cost.
One problem with the lithium–sulfur design is that when the sulfur in the cathode absorbs lithium, the Li2S has nearly double the volume of the original sulfur. This causes large mechanical stresses on cathode, which is a major cause of rapid degradation. This process reduces the contact between the carbon and the sulfur, and prevents the flow of lithium ions to the sulfur surface.
One of the primary shortfalls of most Li–S cells is unwanted reactions with the electrolytes. While S and Li
2S are relatively insoluble in most electrolytes, many intermediate polysulfides are not. Dissolving Li
n into electrolytes causes irreversible loss of active sulfur. Use of highly reactive lithium as negative electrode causes dissociation of most of the commonly used ether type electrolytes. Use of protective layer in the anode surface has been studied to improve cell safety, i.e. use of Teflon coating showed improvement in the electrolyte stability, LIPON, Li3N also exhibited promising performance.
Because of the high potential energy density and the nonlinear discharge and charging response of the cell, a microcontroller and other safety circuitry is sometimes used along with voltage regulators to manage cell operation and prevent rapid discharge.
|Anode||Cathode||Date||Source||Specific Capacity after cycling||Notes|
|Polyethylene glycol coated, pitted mesoporous carbon||17 May 2009||University of Waterloo||1,110 mAh/g after 20 cycles at a current rate of 168 mA g-1||Minimal degradation during charge cycling. To retain polysulfides in the cathode, the surface was functionalized to repel (hydrophobic) polysulfides. In a test using a glyme solvent, a traditional sulfur cathode lost 96% of its sulfur over 30 cycles, while the experimental cathode lost only 25%.|
|Silicon nanowire||Sulfur-coated, disordered carbon nanotubes||2011||Stanford University||730mAh/g after 150 cycles (at 0.5C)||An electrolyte additive boosted the faraday efficiency from 85% to over 99%.|
|Silicon nanowire/carbon||Sulfur-coated, disordered carbon nanotubes made from carbohydrates||2013||CGS||1300 mAh/g after 400 cycles (at 1C)||Microwave processing of materials and Laser-printing of electrodes.|
|Silicon carbon||Sulfur||2013||Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS]]||? after 1,400 cycles|
|Copolymerized sulfur||2013||University of Arizona||823 mAh/g at 100 cycles||Uses “inverse vulcanization” on mostly sulfur with a small amount of 1,3-diisopropenylbenzene (DIB) additive|
2-encapsulated sulfur nanoparticles
|2013||Stanford University||721 mAh/g at 1,000 cycles (0.5C)||shell protects the sulfur-lithium intermediate from electrolyte solvent. Each cathode particle is 800 nanometers in diameter. Faraday efficiency of 98.4%.|
|Sulfur||June 2013||Oak Ridge National Laboratory||1200 mA·h/g at 300 cycles at 60 °C (0.1C)
800 mA·h/g at 300 cycles at 60 °C (1C)
|Solid lithium polysulfidophosphate electrolyte. Half the voltage of typical LIBs. Remaining issues include low electrolyte ionic conductivity and brittleness in the ceramic structure.|
|Lithium||Sulfur-graphene oxide nanocomposite with styrene-butadiene-carboxymethyl cellulose copolymer binder||2013||Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory||700 mA·h/g at 1500 cycles (0.05C discharge)
400 mA·h/g at 1500 cycles (0.5C charge/ 1C discharge)
|Voltage between about 1.7 and 2.5 volts, depending on charge state. Lithium bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)imide) dissolved in a mixture of nmethyl-(n-butyl) pyrrolidinium bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)-imide (PYR14TFSI), 1,3-dioxolane (DOL), dimethoxyethane (DME) with 1 M lithium bis-(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide (LiTFSI), and lithium nitrate (LiNO
3). High porosity polypropylene separator. Specific energy is 500 Wh/kg (initial) and 250 Wh/kg at 1,500 cycles (C=1.0)
|Graphite-coated||Sulfur||February 2014||Pacific Northwest National Laboratory||400 cycles||Coating prevents polysulfides from destroying the anode.|
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