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New Technology By Australian Scientists Improves Batteries

Monash University researchers have made a major breakthrough on the path to decarbonising economies, with new technology that will improve the lifespan and efficiency of lithium-sulfur batteries.

Originally commercialised in the ’90s, and currently used to power electric vehicles, phones and other electronic devices, lithium-ion batteries need large amounts of minerals like nickel, cobalt and manganese, which are in increasingly short supply.

The answer to this is seen as lithium-sulfur batteries, as sulfur is a cheap waste material in abundant supply. Unfortunately, this technology hasn’t been able to save the day yet because scientists have long had troubles with slow charging and discharging rates.

But the Monash Uni researchers believe they have fixed that, developing a battery interlayer that allows for very fast charging, as well as an improvement in the life and performance of the batteries.

Matthew Hill, professor and deputy head of chemical and biological engineering at Monash University, says, “The world is trying to electrify and store renewable energy. Lithium-sulfur batteries can be produced at half the cost of lithium-ion ones, so this gives us a low-cost and recyclable alternative.

“The storing of renewables is sensitive to costs. But as they come down households would be mad not to store the energy produced from solar panels.”

It’s said lithium-sulfur batteries can store as much as double to five times as much energy by weight as current gen lithium-ion batteries.

Monash has patented this new technology and are working on ways to deliver it to the market.

With sulfur abundant in Australia, Professor Hill adds, “This is another step towards cheaper, cleaner and higher-performing batteries that could be made within Australia.”

The team hope to obtain the funding needed to prove the tech works with larger batteries, which could then be commercialised within five years.

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