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Formulating energy density for designing practical lithium–sulfur batteries

Abstract

The lithium–sulfur (Li–S) battery is one of the most promising battery systems due to its high theoretical energy density and low cost. Despite impressive progress in its development, there has been a lack of comprehensive analyses of key performance parameters affecting the energy density of Li–S batteries. Here, we analyse the potential causes of energy loss during battery operations. We identify two key descriptors (Rweight and Renergy) that represent the mass- and energy-level compromise of the full-cell energy density, respectively. A formulation for energy density calculations is proposed based on critical parameters, including sulfur mass loading, sulfur mass ratio, electrolyte/sulfur ratio and negative-to-positive electrode material ratio. The current progress of Ah-level Li–S batteries is also summarized and analysed. Finally, future research directions, targets and prospects for designing practical high-performance Li–S batteries are proposed.

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Fig. 1: Formulation of energy density and effects from key parameters.
Fig. 2: Representative Ah-level Li–S battery pouch cells with key design parameters.

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Acknowledgements

The perspective was supported by the Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Office of Vehicle Technologies of the US Department of Energy under Battery Materials Research (BMR) Program and the Battery500 Consortium.

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Correspondence to Yi Cui.

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Competing interests

Y.C. is the founder and a board director of Amprius Inc., which develops Si anodes. He owns shares in Amprius. G.Z. and H.C. declare no competing interests.

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Zhou, G., Chen, H. & Cui, Y. Formulating energy density for designing practical lithium–sulfur batteries. Nat Energy 7, 312–319 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41560-022-01001-0

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