Graphene sponge helps lithium sulphur batteries reach new potential

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An illustration of the Chalmers design for a lithium sulfur battery. The highly porous quality of the graphene aerogel allows for high enough soaking of sulfur to make the catholyte concept worthwhile. Credit: Yen Strandqvist/Chalmers University of Technology

To meet the demands of an electric future, new battery technologies will be essential. One option is lithium sulphur batteries, which offer a theoretical energy density more than five times that of lithium ion batteries. Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, recently unveiled a promising breakthrough for this type of battery, using a catholyte with the help of a graphene sponge.

The researchers’ novel idea is a porous, sponge-like aerogel made of reduced graphene oxide that acts as a free-standing electrode in the battery cell and allows for better and higher utilisation of sulphur.

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PolyPlus Developing Waterproof Lithium-Air Batteries

PolyPlus Developing Waterproof Lithium-Air Batteries

A prototype battery made by PolyPlus uses lithium metal as the anode and salt water as the cathode to power an LED. 

A company based in Berkeley, CA, is developing lightweight, high-energy batteries that can use the surrounding air as a cathode. PolyPlus is partnering with a manufacturing firm to develop single-use lithium metal-air batteries for the government, and it expects these batteries to be on the market within a few years. The company also has rechargeable lithium metal-air batteries in the early stages of development that could eventually power electric vehicles that can go for longer in between charges.

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Batteries Built By Viruses

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Power From an Unlikely Source

Researchers have genetically engineered biological viruses to form the anode and cathode of a battery. MIT researcher Angela Belcher and her colleagues manipulated the genes of a harmless virus so that the bug coats itself in tiny iron phosphate particles and connects to highly-conductive carbon nanotubes. From Science News…

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Cheaper And More Reliable Lithium-Ion Batteries

Cheaper And More Reliable Lithium-Ion Batteries

Lithium-ion cells that use polymer electrolytes can be affordably packaged in compact, flexible pouches  

A new incarnation of lithium-ion batteries based on solid polymers is in the works. Berkeley, CA-based startup Seeo, Inc. says its lithium-ion cells will be safer, longer-lasting, lighter, and cheaper than current batteries. Seeo’s batteries use thin films of polymer as the electrolyte and high-energy-density, light-weight electrodes. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is now making and testing cells designed by the University of California, Berkeley spinoff.

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Nanoball Batteries Could Recharge Electric Cars In Minutes

Nanoball Batteries Could Recharge Electric Cars In Minutes

 A sample of the new battery material.

Researchers at MIT have designed a new battery that can recharge devices about 100 times faster than conventional lithium ion batteries. The design could lead to electric car batteries that charge in 5 minutes (compared with 8 hours in today’s electric cars) and cell phone batteries that charge in just 10 seconds.

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