LiSTAR – The lithium-sulfur technology accelerator
To deliver fundamental changes in battery performance in the medium to long term, industry must look to chemistries beyond Li-ion. Of these, lithium-sulfur (Li-S) represents one of the most promising and mature technologies available.
Compared with conventional Li-ion batteries, Li-S cells store more energy per unit weight and can operate in a wider operating temperature range. They may also offer safety and cost improvements. Yet the widespread use of Li-S faces major hurdles that stem from sulfur’s insulating nature, migration of discharge products leading to the loss of active material, and degradation of the metallic lithium anode. Scientists and engineers need to know more about how the system performs and degrades in order to overcome current limitations in the power density and lifespan of Li-S cells that could unlock their use.
LiSTAR is designed to address these challenges. The consortium is generating new knowledge, materials and engineering solutions, thanks to its dual focus on fundamental research at material and cell level, and an improved approach to system engineering. The project is addressing four key areas of research: cathodes; electrolytes; modelling platforms; and device engineering. In doing so, the consortium is seeking to enable rapid improvements in Li-S technologies, with the aim of securing the UK as the global hub for the research, development and deployment of this emergent technology.
- Enhance the sulfur loading and substantially increase the thickness of electrodes, making battery subcomponents that are significantly more representative of real-world requirements in a number of sectors.
- Improve safety via implementation of non-flammable electrolytes.
- Demonstrate new electrode and electrolyte approaches in a technologically relevant cell.
- Demonstrate a battery management system to maximise performance.
- Develop bespoke advanced cell monitoring and diagnostic techniques from the outset of the chemistry’s commercialisation.
Metrics of success for the project include advancing all areas of Li-S technology to demonstrate cells which:
- Contain electrodes with more active material so they store enough energy to be commercially viable.
- Can be discharged fast enough to remove all energy in one hour, and therefore provide sufficient power for the intended aeronautic and heavy vehicle applications.
- Resist degradation when cycled.
- Have no other features that would plausibly prevent it being mass-manufactured at a cost competitive with that of existing Li-ion batteries.
The LiSTAR consortium will also seek to make substantial contributions to the scientific literature and act as a catalyst in developing a cross-UK Li-S manufacturing industry by bringing together the leading interested academic and industrial partners.
In January 2023, OXLiD was awarded a Faraday Battery Challenge Round 5 project to accelerate the development, scale-up and commercialisation of quasi-solid-state lithium-sulfur (Li-S) batteries. The project builds on significant progress made by the Faraday Institution LiSTAR project and commercialisation team, and involves project partners at the University of Nottingham, University College London, William Blythe, WAE, Exawatt, Emerson and Renwick, and Infineum UK.
1 October 2019 – 30 September 2023
Professor Paul Shearing
University College London
Dr James Robinson
University College London
University College London (Lead)
Imperial College London
University of Birmingham
University of Cambridge
University of Nottingham
University of Oxford
University of Southampton
University of Surrey
Research Organisations, Facilities and Institutes
National Physical Laboratory (NPL)
+ 4 Industry Partners
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