Joint research team of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay and Shiv Nadar University have announced successful development of a technology for production of environment-friendly Lithium-Sulphur (Li-S) batteries three times more energy-efficient and cost-effective than Lithium-ion batteries commonly used at present.
Although Li-S batteries had been invented back in 1962 but were not available for commercial use until late 2014. Commercial non-viability was owed to low life cycle of these batteries because of Sulphur leakage which is present as cathodic material in these batteries. The Indian researchers have overcome this problem by using some organic material along with Sulphur to increase battery life cycle and make it more environment friendly.
New Lithium-Sulphur Battery Based On Green Chemistry Principles
Research team that developed the new Li-S battery stated that the technology is based on principles of green chemistry (reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances).
Green technology based new Li-S battery synthesizes a bio-based molecule, capable of commercial-scale production. This will also include a new type of cathode for Li-S batteries, which significantly increases the battery capacity.
The Battery will utilize by-products from the petroleum industry (Sulphur), agro-waste elements and copolymers such as Cardanol (a by-product of cashew nut processing) and Eugenol (Clove Oil) as cathodic materials.
Head of the research team Dr. Bimlesh Lochab, Associate Professor at Shiv Nadar University said “The research focuses on principles of green chemistry to find a solution that addresses requirements of industries and the environment, simultaneously. The capability of three times more energy density, coupled with being a significantly safer technology, holds the promise of accelerating the adoption of clean, battery-led energy across multiple domains”.
Environment Sustainability and Commercial Viability with The New Li-S Battery
Use of organic material and Sulphur from industrial waste in Green technology based batteries make it a very environment friendly alternative to present Li-ion batteries. Also, it will help in safe battery waste disposal which is one of the biggest side effects of electric based systems on environment.
Citing an example Dr. Bimlesh Lochab explained “An electric car with a 400 km range using conventional Lithium-ion batteries can now quadruple its range to 1600 km on a single charge with this technology, while being compact in size and much safer to use than traditional Lithium-ion batteries. To put this in perspective, it could mean driving from Delhi to Mumbai on a single charge and still being left with power“.
Dr. Lochab’s team has collaborated with Dr. Sagar Mitra, IIT Bombay’s Professor in the Department of Energy Science and Engineering, to develop a prototype of Li-S battery using this research.
Expressing his views Dr. Sagar Mitra of IIT Bombay said “The use of cardanol for Sulfur-based structures as an unconventional application to create cathode materials in this next generation Li-S battery technology has exhibited enhanced capacity retention (among the highest charge capacities reported) and longer battery life in a significantly smaller battery unit. The Sulfur for the battery is sourced from industrial waste and cardanol is sourced from bio-renewable feed-stock that is easily available, non-toxic and environmentally friendly“.
Although presently electric vehicles and drones market in India is still at a nascent stage, it is quickly picking up. Also other electronic products such as laptops, mobile phones, smart watches etc depend on Lithium-ion batteries. Once this technology finds its commercial viability it would be a game-changer for battery market in India and across the World.