Researchers Develop New Method to Build Lithium-Sulfur Battery from Paper Biomass

Paper Bio Mass
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Researchers developed a method to build lithium-sulfur battery from paper-biomass, according to a study on April 2, 2018.

This study, which discusses about the development of lithium-sulfur batteries from cheap and abundant paper biomass was conducted by researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. These batteries will be useful to power data centers and will be a cheaper energy-storage option for microgrids and the conventional electric grid. The main objective of this study is to develop materials that are low-cost and sustainable for lithium-sulfur batteries.

There are two electrodes for a rechargeable battery, a positive and a negative electrode. In between the two electrodes, liquid electrolyte required for the chemical reaction to produce electric current is present. In a lithium-sulfur battery, the cathode is composed of a sulfur-carbon matrix and a lithium metal oxide is used for the anode. Sulfur is nonconductive, however, when integrated with carbon at high temperatures, it becomes highly conductive. However, the challenge still remains, as sulfur will dissolve into the electrolyte deteriorating the electrodes.

Trevor Simmons, a Rensselaer research scientist said, “Our method provides a simple way to create an optimal sulfur-based cathode from a single raw material.” Researchers at Rensselaer collaborated with Finch Paper in Glens Falls, which provided the lignosulfonate to develop this new method. The ‘brown liquor’ is dried and heated to around 700 degrees Celsius in a quartz tube furnace. The high heat removes most of the sulfur gas, however, some of the sulfur is retained as polysulfides. Until the required amount of sulfur gets trapped in the carbon matrix, the process of heating continues. The material is then ground up and mixed with an inert polymer binder to form a cathode coating on aluminum foil.

Researchers were successful in creating a prototype of lithium-sulfur battery that can cycle about 200 times. Furthermore, to increase the discharge rate and cycle life of battery, they will be working on scaling up of the prototype.

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