Table of Contents
Lithium sulfur (Li-S) is recognized as the likely future alternative to lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries followed by other chemistries such as lithium air (Li-air) and zinc air (Zn-air).
Automakers will continue using Li-ion batteries in electric vehicles (EVs) for at least a decade as alternative technologies are still in the development phase; indications are not apparent of any new technology adoption in the mid term (next 5–7 years).
Advanced Li-ion technology, Li-air, Li-S, and Zn-air batteries are expected to be the most promising alternatives to the existing batteries in terms of energy density, safety, cost, and life cycle.
Zn-air technology is likely to be the most cost-effective solution due to the wide availability of materials; however, Li-S is expected to be the safest alternative technology.
Volkswagen has announced plans to work on Li-air batteries in EVs that are likely to be tested in the VW electric Golf. IBM’s Li-air battery work in partnership with Toyota is called the IBM Battery x project; however, a number of challenges have to be addressed.
All the battery manufacturers are working on battery recycle programs, adopting different methods such as smelting to recover valuable metals and various other physical and chemical processes to recover battery-grade materials.
Future Battery Chemistries
Li-S and Zn-air are likely to be adopted as future battery types in the next 5–8 years along with advancements in Li-ion technology.
Li-ion batteries are made of lightweight lithium and carbon and can store up to x Wh/kg. With these features, Li-ion batteries demonstrate greater stability and safety than other battery applications in hybrids and EVs.
Li-air batteries consist of lithium anode and oxygen as the cathode. Li-air batteries have a theoretical energy density of approximately x Wh/Kg. These batteries react with oxygen making them light and compact.
Li-S batteries consist of 2 electrodes, a lithium metal anode and a sulfur carbon cathode. Li-S batteries determine high energy density along with low cost and have over 5 times more energy density as compared to Li-ion batteries.
Zn-air batteries also have a very high theoretical energy density of up to x Wh/Kg and use materials that are cheap and abundant. The anode is zinc, and the cathode is simply oxygen. This battery can be easily recycled.
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