Nanomaterial shows the way to a cheaper, lighter electric car battery

A Canadian research team has moved a step closer to developing a cheaper, lighter and more powerful electric car battery.

Chemistry Professor Linda Nazar and her research team at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, have discovered a material that helps overcome one of the major obstacles to building an efficient lithium-sulfur battery – its short life. Their breakthrough has been published in Nature Communications.

Sulfur is abundant, cheap and relatively light, but sulfur cathode batteries have unfortunately only lasted for a few cycles. Nazar and her team have found that nanosheets of manganese dioxide may hold the key to building a longer-lasting lithium-sulfur battery.

They discovered that the oxygenated surfaces of a manganese dioxide nanosheet chemically recycles the sulfides. The result is a cathode that can recharge for more than 2000 cycles and has a high performance.

The surface reaction is similar to one discovered in 1854 during a golden age of German sulfur chemistry,  known as Wackenroder’s Solution.

“Very few researchers study or even teach sulfur chemistry any more,” said Nazar. “It’s ironic we had to look so far back in the literature to understand something that may so radically change our future.”

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