University of Texas at Austin
The next generation of space suits, landers, rovers, and spacecraft will require secondary batteries capable of storing larger amounts of energy. As missions venture further and further out from the sun, these batteries will also need to be capable of withstanding increasingly colder temperatures. Lithium-sulfur batteries have been proposed as a successor to traditional lithium-ion batteries due to their high theoretical capacity and energy density. This large energy density could be incredibly beneficial in launches to space from Earth, where minimizing payload mass is essential. However, these batteries will need to be capable of performing in low temperature environments before their use is adopted on space missions to the outer solar system.
I propose to research and develop the low temperature performance of lithium-sulfur batteries. I aim to perform this project in three phases. First, I will perform a component by component study on commonly used Li-S battery materials, where I examine the kinetics of the lithium-metal anode, carbon-sulfur composite cathode, and electrolyte (dimethyl ether and 1,3-dioxolane) at low temperatures. I intend to substantiate these studies with surface and morphology studies via the assistance of scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, and other related techniques. I will then use the information collected in these studies to evaluate, optimize, and develop novel electrode and electrolyte components for low temperatures. I would be interested in developing entirely new protected lithium-metal or alloy anodes, novel sulfur cathode architectures fabricated with electronically and ionically conductive species, and optimized electrolyte compositions for low temperatures.
The final step of this project is to construct laboratory scale battery cells that have large capacity, high coulombic efficiency, and long cycle life at temperatures in the range of -60⁰ C to 0⁰ C. This project addresses the Energy Storage section of the Power and Energy Storage technology roadmap (TA03). The following tab elements are specifically addressed: TA03.2.1.3, as well as TA03.2.1.1 and TA03.2.1.2.