I-Corps: Batteries Enabled by Novel Nanostructured Scaffold Electrodes
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The broader impact/commercial potential of this I-Corps project is to have advanced lithium-sulfur batteries enable increased range of electric vehicles with lower cost. One of the most challenging problems in electric vehicles is the short driving distance and relatively high cost, which have been mainly caused by the performance of the current Li-ion batteries. These batteries are good for small electronics such as cell phones and computers, but their energy densities and prices do not meet the current demand required for large scale systems. The proposed battery technology can achieve an energy density five times higher than those of the current Li-ion batteries as well as lower the manufacturing cost. This I-Corps project will further develop a process technology that enables sponge-like three-dimensional carbon nanotube bulk materials while maintaining the properties of individual nanomaterials. With this novel scalable synthesis method, the junctions/contacts between carbon nanotubes are seamlessly connected by covalent bonding, ensuring excellent electron transport across the junctions/contacts. Typical methods for commercial carbon nanotubes result in powdery materials which necessitates additional manufacturing processes to make practical bulk materials. In comparison to the conventional methods for making battery electrodes, the novel manufacturing method used in this project results in electrically conducting scaffold electrodes with large surface areas, eliminating inactive binders and conductive additives in batteries, which allows for remarkably increasing the energy density of lithium-sulfur batteries.