Researchers Claim Carbon Cloth Collector Improves Sulfur Utilization of Batteries

These batteries could be used in smaller electric vehicles


Researchers at Monash University, Deakin University, and the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IITB)-Monash Research Academy, have claimed that that using a carbon cloth collector can improve the sulfur utilization of batteries, which would make them more efficient.

Carbon cloth is a conducting textile, which is an excellent current collector as well as has high surface area support.

Scientists and engineers have been focusing on finding a more sustainable way of making lithium batteries, which relies on scarce resources and is challenging to produce on a large-scale at affordable prices. The researchers say that the carbon cloth is key to this development. By activating it in a simple process, it becomes a catalytic agent in the discharge process of the sulfur electrode, leading to a higher overall voltage and extended life.

“Batteries of the future are necessary because in various significant market areas they form a vital part of the transition away from fossil fuels,” said the study’s author Professor Douglas MacFarlane, from the Monash University School of Chemistry.

He also explained that the integration of renewables into the grid is hampered by the variability of the supply. Hence, battery storage either at home or in the wind or solar project is necessary. However, he pointed out that currently, it is an expensive component of the system.

The research is part of a longer-term collaboration between Monash, Deakin, and the ITTB funded through an Australia India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF) project aimed at developing affordable high-performance batteries.

Professor Maria Forsyth, from Deakin University, said that the most immediate application of these batteries in India could be in local transportation applications, for example, in the auto-rickshaws that are extensively used in Asia as well as other smaller electric vehicles (EVs). “In Australia, we could see such batteries powering EVs, and they could also be used for home battery storage,” she said.

“The study describes the outstanding performance for a high-energy-density room-temperature sodium-sulfur (RT Na-S) battery, with the discovery that simple chemical activation of a carbon cloth current collector (which researchers fill with a sulfur-based liquid electrolyte) could allow a Na-S battery to operate at near its theoretical voltage and deliver an energy density of just under 1kWh/kg of sulfur,” the release stated.

It further stated that the appeal of the Na-S battery is that the raw materials, sodium salts, and sulfur are inexpensive. The battery operates at room temperature and can be charged and discharged at reasonable rates.

Recently, Mercom had reported that researchers at the Washington State University and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory had announced that they had created a sodium-ion battery that can be made with widely and cheaply available materials.

Japanese researchers earlier said that they had developed a new electrode material and claimed that it would make lithium batteries cheaper, more stable, and capable of holding more charge for longer periods.