Sulfur-Containing Films for Rechargeable Batteries
A new method makes it possible to directly polymerize elemental sulfur with divinyl monomers. This method, which is called inverse vulcanization, was discovered by scientists at the University of Hamburg, the USA and South Korea in a joint research project.
Elemental sulfur is produced in large quantities as a waste product during refining of petroleum, for instance. The newly developed process now makes it possible to incorporate this sulfur into a processable copolymer.
The copolymers have properties similar to those of elemental sulfur and can thus be used as cathode material in lithium-sulfur rechargeable batteries. This plastic has already been used successfully to manufacturer Li-S batteries with a specific capacity of over 800 mAh/g. These systems have a considerably higher specific capacity than lithium ion rechargeable batteries, for instance. As a result, considerably lighter, more efficient and more economical rechargeable batteries might be available in the future – for use in electric vehicles, for instance.
According to the information provided, the plastic can be manufactured on an industrial scale easily and cost-effectively. In addition, a microstructured film with a high sulfur content can be produced from the material by means of lithographic methods. Besides its use in rechargeable batteries, additional possible applications for the sulfur-containing polymers are being investigated actively. Based on current knowledge, the sulfur-containing polymers can be processed on machinery typically used for thermoplastics. The temperatures and residence times that must be observed will now be investigated in further experiments.