Towards the promising next generation of battery technology
The demand for batteries is rising faster than ever. However, today, their production still requires the use of rare and critical raw materials. In an era where the shift to sustainable energy solutions is so desperately needed, we have to make every effort to overcome these barriers. This is where the project FUGELS - Functionally Graded Electrodes for long-life Lithium-sulfur batteries - steps in. FUGELS will work on a next-generation and promising technology, lithium sulfur batteries (LSB), helping to accelerate their penetration into the battery market. The need for such a new battery technology is triggered by the capacity limitation, sustainability concerns, and high cycle-cost of storage with the state-of-the-art (SOA) lithium-ion batteries (LIBs).
How are lithium sulfur batteries a sustainable energy solution?
LSBs are potentially lighter and more affordable options than any other battery on the market: They can be less than half the weight of lithium-ion batteries, while storing the same amount of energy. “Additionally, as sulfur (< US$ 0.2/kg) is at least 2 orders of magnitude cheaper than metals like cobalt and nickel used in NMC cathodes, LSBs are expected to be less expensive than their lithium-ion battery counterparts.
Higher capacities and lower cycle costs open opportunities for residential and stationary storage, heavy-duty transport, and new applications such as drones, e-bikes, unmanned vehicles, and aerospace. Moreover, global reserves of sulfur are almost limitless (i.e., 600 billion tons).
However, the technology still faces several hurdles. A major challenge for LSBs is their rapid ageing, which currently limits their lifespan and their wide introduction into the battery market. The available capacity now fades away in less than hundreds of cycles. FUGELS aims to increase the specific energy and lifetime of LSBs by developing new sulfur and lithium electrode architectures. To do so, a synergy between a variety of coating and deposition methods such as wet chemical solution, atmospheric plasma technology, electrodeposition, atomic layer deposition, and slurry-based coating is set forth.
The project brings together the expertise of different partners in various techniques. The project will last 4 years and will be conducted in close interaction with several Flemish companies. FUGELS is one of the 2 projects that will start this year within the new battery program of SIM. The consortium consists of researchers from UHasselt, UGent, UAntwerpen, VITO, IMEC and IMOMEC. FUGELS benefits from an advanced battery lab infrastructure in EnergyVille2.