Revolutionary solid state rechargeable aluminium-sulfur battery project starts

November 22, 2017 // By Nick Flaherty
A €3m project has started developing a new type of rechargeable solid state battery that could revolutionise the industry.

The Sulfur-Aluminium Battery with Advanced Polymeric Gel Electrolytes (SALBAGE) project could produce a solid state battery with an energy density over five times that of today’s lithium ion cells without the dendrites that cause short-circuits and fires. This would also avoid shortages in lithium and cobalt that are predicted in the current supply chain.

The project, which started this week, is led by Spanish battery developer Albufera Energy Storage in Madrid with Scionix in the UK and research at the UK universities of Leicester and Southampton as well as the technical universities of Graz and Denmark.

The aim is to develop near-solid electrolytes based on polymerizable ionic liquids with high conductivity. At the same time, the aluminium negative electrode will be combined with a sulfur positive electrode including the first use of redox mediators to boost the performance. All three techniques have been shown to work, but not been combined until now.

“We have this crazy idea of batteries based on aluminium and sulfur that, if we are successful, will have a great impact on society,” said Juan Maria Garcia Lastra, senior researcher at TU Denmark.

The new battery is expected to have a high energy density of 1000Wh/kg and low price at 60% of today’s Li-ion technology. The battery will be flexible and shapeable for applications such as electric cars and trucks, aircraft and IT. In comparison, lead batteries have an energy density of 40 Wh/kg, and Li-ion batteries have 160 Wh/kg.

“This is a very exciting project and source of the funding is very prestigious because of the competitive nature of the scheme. Success rates have varied between only 2% and 4%,” said Professor Karl Ryder, from Leicester University’s Department of Chemistry. “We have been working towards this for a while now with projects in metal ion chemistry (plating and polishing) in new and novel types of ionic liquid electrolytes.  The Leicester group is well known in the academic community