Australian scientists announced breakthrough with room-temperature sodium-sulfur batteries

Researchers from the University of Wollongong (UOW) have manufactured a nanomaterial that acts as a superior cathode for room-temperature sodium-sulfur batteries, making them a more attractive option for large-scale energy storage. According to the scientists, »a room-temperature sodium-sulfur battery with high energy density and long cycling life would provide a low-cost and competitive technology for large-scale stationary storage, thus promoting the shift towards renewable energy.«
However, room-temperature sodium-sulfur batteries currently suffer from rapid capacity fading and low reversible capacity. The researchers overcame this problem by creating a nanomaterial – nickel sulphide nanocrystals implanted in nitrogen-doped porous carbon nanotubes – which exhibited excellent performance when used as cathodes.
Chief investigators Yunxiao Wang and Associate Professor Shulei Chou, from UOW’s Institute for Superconducting and Electronic Materials, said their research group had been working on room-temperature sodium-sulfur batteries since 2016. The research team experimented with a number of different materials before their breakthrough. According to the scientists, »the new nanomaterial not only delivers superior performance, but is also suited to large-scale production and therefore commercialisation.«
The next step, Professor Chou said, was to scale up production of the material. »All our previous papers, including this one, were focused on how to find an efficient host for lab-scale research. The next step for our group is to bring sodium-sulfur batteries from lab-scale to industry-scale, and make a real application for this battery system.«
The research was funded by grants from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, the Innovative Group of Guangdong Province, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, and the Australian Research Council.
»Nickel sulfide nanocrystals on nitrogen-doped porous carbon nanotubes with high-efficiency electrocatalysis for room-temperature sodium-sulfur batteries« by Zichao Yan, Jin Xiao, Weihong Lai, Li Wang, Florian Gebert, Yunxiao Wang, Qinfen Gu, Hui Liu, Shu-Lei Chou, Huakun Liu and Shi-Xue Dou is published in »Nature Communications«.

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