Sulphur and recycled Kevlar could boost the batteries of future electric cars

By ETX Studio | 25 January 2022

DETROIT: Scientists at the University of Michigan have succeeded in creating a new type of membrane from recycled Kevlar that could facilitate the development of lithium-sulphur batteries.

These batteries could prove to be up to five times more efficient than the models currently used by the automotive industry.

This new type of battery membrane has enabled the development of a lithium-sulphur battery capable of operating for more than a thousand cycles, without loss of performance.

As a side note, the recycled Kevlar used in this work is similar to that used in bulletproof vests.

Scientists have already established several years ago that lithium-sulphur batteries could serve as alternatives to lithium-ion models, but at that point it was still too early to determine the real potential of such technologies.

This new development could change all that, as it gives them a lifespan never before achieved. This membrane is also resistant to extreme temperatures. It is generally considered that 1,000 charge cycles correspond to about 10 years of use.

Researchers have shown that the use of a network of aramid nanofibres, recycled from Kevlar, can considerably increase the life expectancy of a lithium-sulphur battery, without any expense for its capacity, resilience or, most importantly, its safety.

In absolute terms, this technology also works on lithium-ion batteries, but the goal here was to promote the development of lithium-sulphur batteries, which are much more efficient, at least on paper.

In addition to their higher capacity, lithium-sulphur batteries have an advantage in terms of sustainability because sulphur is much more abundant than the cobalt used in lithium-ion electrodes.

This work was published in Nature Communication, and the discovery has been patented. It should be commercialised soon.