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Lithium-Sulfur: New chemistry to power the EV industry

11 April 2013

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Ahead of the 7th Global EV Battery Tech: Cost Reduction Initiative 2013, on the 24th-25th April in London, Dr. Mark Crittenden, of OXIS Energy, shared his thoughts on the latest developments with Electric Vehicle battery technology and information on Lithium-Sulfur, a new electrochemistry concept that improves upon the Lithium-ion batteries that are currently used in EV's.
Why did you get involved with the EV battery tech cost reduction initiative this year?

For us, it’s a good opportunity to meet prospective customers for collaborations and to give a perspective about the new technology that we have, and is ready to implement into the EV industry.

What do you see as the major challenges facing the EV battery industry today?

A constant challenge for the EV industry is the range of the vehicle, which fundamentally comes down to ‘what is the capacity of the battery?’ With Lithium-Sulfur, we believe 400 Wh/kg is achievable in the next 5 years – so for the same battery weight, the range is much better: we expect 400-500 miles will be achieved on one battery charge.

With a conventional EV, one third of the system weight can be the battery cooling. But with Lithium-Sulfur, we don’t think we need that level of cooling, so the weight will be a lot less. Therefore, you could have more batteries for this saved weight or have a lighter vehicle altogether. Either way, the range is better than Lithium-Ion. 

Being in constant discussion with car manufacturers, we understand that there needs to be a fairly conservative pace of development, so five years is a realistic time-scale for new technology like this to be brought to the major car market. That’s why we are also working with smaller manufacturers, such as Induct, who can implement the technology sooner.

Aside from technology developments, what do you think needs addressing in EV batteries?

As always, safety is a challenge, particularly in light of the recent bad press for Lithium-Ion batteries, so from our point of view, this is a key area that needs addressing.

That’s why we are so excited by Lithium-Sulfur: it is inherently safe for EVs due to two aspects:
  • As soon as the cell is constructed, the Lithium and Sulfur react to form a protective lithium sulfide layer over the lithium – this “passivation” layer protects the lithium from abuse.
  • We use a non-flammable electrolyte with a high “flash point” in the cells providing a greater level of resilience at higher temperatures.
We have put our cells through a barrage of abuse tests such as overcharging and short-circuiting, not to mention bullet penetration tests.

Read the rest of the interview.



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