In this presentation, the design of new electrolyte systems which enable high CE of lithium metal plating/stripping and high stability in the sulfur environment will be discussed. Tailoring of electrolyte properties for the lithium negative electrode has proven to be a successful strategy for improving the capacity retention and cycle life of Li-S full cells. This also enables lower electrolyte/sulfur mass ratios to be used and a lower excess of lithium metal; ultimately increasing the energy density of the system.
A new class of electrolytes based on a high concentration of selected lithium salts in pure diethylene glycol dimethyl ether (diglyme) solvent provides a CE for lithium plating/stripping of greater than 99% for over 200 cycles and greater than 95% for over 500 cycles (Figure 1). In contrast, lithium metal cycles for less than 40 cycles at high CE in the standard 1 M LiTFSI + 2wt% LiNO3 in DOL:DME electrolyte.
To realize the benefits of sulfur cathodes over intercalation cathodes currently using in Li-ion cells, high loading (high capacity) cathodes need to be used. In Figure 2a, a Cu||Li cell is cycled with the new diglyme-based electrolyte to a capacity of 6 mAh/cm2 at a current density of 0.6 mA/cm2 (C/10). Even at this high capacity, lithium is cycling with >99% CE. Lithium symmetrical cells were also cycled at a current density of 0.5 mA/cm2 to 5 mAh/cm2 (Figure 2b). In this case, the increase in polarization was used a metric to determine the practical cycle life of Li metal in the different electrolytes. No polarization is observed for the diglyme-based electrolyte after 2200 hours in the Li||Li cell.
The inexpensive sulfur cathode paired with a low excess of lithium metal and the low-cost salt/solvent system may accelerate the applications of high energy density Li-S batteries in both electrical vehicles and large-scale grid energy storage markets.
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