Herein, we propose a new strategy on rational design of high-loading cathodes under lean operation for Li-S batteries by spatial homogeneity control. An activated carbon fiber cloth (ACFC) has been selected as both a sulphur-hosting material and the current collector. ACFC possesses a high micropore volume (ca. 0.8 cc/g) with a narrow pore distribution (< 2 nm), high surface area (ca. 1800 m2/g) but with the absence of mesopores which is common in conventional carbon matrices. The microporous nature of the ACFC allows sulfur to be confined, yet the macro-surface area (< 10 m2/g; excluding micropores) is low, which potentially allows high utilization electrolytes (i.e. complete wetting at low E/S ratios). An adsorptive impregnation method was developed successfully and achieved the theoretical sulphur loading (i.e. 100 % occupation of micropores) based on the empirical relationship. Preliminary cycling experiments indicate there is an optimum sulphur pore-loading range (5-7 mg cm-2) for this method if penetration of electrolytes, volumetric expansion upon lithiation, and escape of resultant LiPS from micropores into bulk electrolytes are taken into account. After sulphur loading, the effective sulphur to carbon (excluding the average weight contribution from Al current collector) weight ratio is approximate 58:42. The cell with sulphur loading of 5.4 mg cm-2 exhibits the best cycling retention, compared to cells with lower sulphur loading and the cell with comparable sulphur loading using melt-infusion method. After 16 cycles, the cell can deliver a favorable areal capacity of 5.2 mAh cm-2 with the E/S ratio of 7.3 along with decreasing nucleation barrier for the first liquid-solid discharge reaction. These results suggest encapsulation of most liquid LiPS in the micropores can be achieved under lean electrolyte condition using an optimum sulphur loading and a hybrid cycling protocol, which also shed light on approaches of delivering high areal capacities (6 mAh cm-2) in a lean electrolyte (E/S < 3). Others factors that affect the cell cycling performance will be discussed in terms of E/S ratios, different kinds of ACFC, temperature and cycling parameters.
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