Lithium sulphur triples battery life

June 11, 2009 | 14:00

Tags: #battery #battery-life #laptop-battery

Companies: #university-of-waterloo

Researchers are claiming a breakthrough in battery technology that could see your gadgets enjoying triple the battery life without gaining any weight.

According to an article over on GizMag, researchers at Canada's University of Waterloo have discovered a neat new version of the popular lithium ion battery technology which offers triple the energy density: lithium sulphur.

Featuring everyone's favourite technology panacea – carbon nanorods – the system works in a similar way to standard lithium ion batteries: energy is stored in one electrode and released via the second. Unlike standard lithium ion batteries, however, the material is paired with mesoporous carbon nanorods joined by sulphur – allowing the team to charge the device up to 84 percent of the theoretical maximum capacity of sulphur.

Another advantage of the new technology is in weight reduction: the new material is able to store 1,200 watt-hours per kilogramme, compared to just 500 watt-hours per kilogramme for standard lithium ion batteries. This offers a choice: batteries can stay the same weight and hold a great deal more charge, or can slim down dramatically while still offering the same battery life for your devices.

The technology isn't quite ready for the prime time yet, however: team lead Dr. Linda Nazar explains that “capacity fading” - the tendency for the battery to discharge despite not being subject to power draw from a device – needs to be “tackled more fully” before the technology is ready to be commercialised – along with ensuring that the negative electrode constructed from metallic lithium is safely protected.

It's also not know just how much the new technology is likely to cost: despite the raw materials for a lithium sulphur battery being cheaper than those used in lithium ion batteries, Dr. Nazar predicts “costs associated with processing, electrolyte, [and] fabrication” to possibly boost the final cost – at least until the technology hits the mass market.

Do you like the sound of a laptop battery capable of holding three times the charge of your current model, or does the thought of all that energy in such a small space give you the heebie-jeebies? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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