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DOE Backs Lithium-Sulfur Batteries

A battery that could store three times more energy than lithium-ion batteries gets funded.
November 13, 2009

One of the most exciting battery chemistries for electric vehicles is lithium-sulfur–it has the potential to store three times more energy than the lithium-ion batteries currently used in electric cars. Historically, however, it’s had a number of problems. Early prototypes could only be recharged a few times, the lithium metal used in one of the electrodes caused short circuits and can react violently with water, creating a safety concern, and the carbon that makes the sulfur electrode conductive takes up too much space, decreasing storage capacity.

Earlier this year we reported on several advances geared toward addressing these problems, and noted that these advances had caught the eye of the chemical giant BASF, which is now working to bring lithium-sulfur batteries to market. But challenges remain, including bringing down costs. Now the Department of Energy has also taken an interest in the technology. This week Sion Power Cooperation (which is working with BASF) announced that it has received a three-year, $800,000 DOE grant to further develop the lithium-sulfur batteries for electric vehicles.

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