New lithium/sulfur battery doubles energy density of lithium-ion


December 1, 2013

Batteries. We buy them at the store, use them up, and throw them away without much thought. In reality, however, batteries are remarkably complex electrochemical devices that are continually evolving. The latest example of this comes from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where researchers have invented an advanced lithium/sulfur (Li/S) cell that offers a unique combination of energy storage, power, recharge speed, and survivability.

Lithium/sulfur rechargeable batteries offer a remarkably large capacity for energy storage, mainly because two electrons are produced each time a molecule is processed through the battery's chemistry. Full article here: LiS Battery

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Comment by Thomas J Coyle III on December 4, 2013 at 8:36am

If this technology gets into production, we can be looking at double the flight time for the same size battery.


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Comment by Greg Dronsky on December 4, 2013 at 9:07am

I have seen some news about it a few weeks ago. This would be a big step into the safety of drones, which is the biggest obstacle for commercial use. Can't wait, and hope it will make our lives better.

Comment by Jethro Hazelhurst on December 4, 2013 at 11:32am

When the Li/S cells were operated at very large power output (C=6.0, meaning that a cell would charge or discharge in 10 minutes) even after 150 cycles the specific energy of the cell was larger than that of a fresh and pampered Li-ion cell.


Comment by Gary McCray on December 4, 2013 at 11:50am

Hi Tom,

Unfortunately this is a technology which seems to work best at very low charge discharge rates, which while suitable and useful for a lot of things it does not represent as big a breakthrough for our high charge discharge rate applications.

The great performance and double that of Lithium Ion capacity is arrived at with a charge discharge rate of 0.05C

With a charge discharge rate of even 1C overall battery energy capacity is reduced by 40 to 50 percent and at over the next 1000 cycles drops to less than half of that.

And we typically use a 10 or 20C (or more) discharge rate which these batteries are not designed to operate at at all.

Although these batteries are very likely to become useful for a lot of low charge discharge rate applications, they are unlikely to be of much use to us.

And if as the article states they see them being useful for applications in cars they have a LOT of breakthroughs that are required before they have any chance at all because cars have the same rate issue we have.

Comment by Alexsey Novik on December 4, 2013 at 11:57am

If you look to the history of this technology, you will find out this chronology:

2010 - Li/S battery FIVE times more capacity over Li-Ion

2011 - Li/S battery FOUR times more capacity

2012 - Li/S battery THREE times more!

2013 - Li/S oh yeah TWICE :D

Li-Air looks more promising:

Comment by Morli on December 4, 2013 at 8:25pm

If not for us,  it still may be break through for other applications.Even we might have some low discharge applications. Not every thing we use needs high discharge IMO.

Comment by Gary McCray on December 4, 2013 at 9:06pm

I agree Morli, There are certainly uses for this battery technology and from what they have said it seems to be considerably less expensive than current lithium technology.

But for multicopter use as a primary power source it is unlikely to be of use because even at the 1C level it loses too much capacity and that is pretty close to the lowest possible even for endurance copters currently using Li Ion.

And for LI Sulfur to provide effectively more energy capacity thna LI Ion, the current draw needs to be 10 to 20 times less than that.

Possibly for long endurance ultra high efficiency fixed wings it could be leveraged as a power source.

My guess is it will be well suited to reduced power emergency backup for grid tied photo-voltaic systems.

Comment by Martin on December 4, 2013 at 11:44pm

Every year there's a bunch of news that scientits have invented a new type of battery with better energy density. Where are those bateries?

Comment by mP1 on December 5, 2013 at 12:41am

There was some item about some form of carbon nanotubes battery being the new super conductor, with instant charge times, and capacities 100x or 1000x more than typical batteries and of course with minimal weight. Havent heard  about them since.

Comment by Graham Dyer on December 5, 2013 at 8:22am

Any new battery tech will first go into smartphones, then tablets then laptop PC's then cars/bikes and maybe about 3-5 years later us hobby flyers might get them... sad.

So watch out for the new tech in your new smartphone, that's where it'll be.


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