Researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and University of Victoria (UVic) are working to develop electric vehicle batteries with twice the capacity of existing technology.
The project, led by the new Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) research partnership, is investigating the benefits of repurposing tellerium, an industrial by-product, into solid state lithium-sulphur batteries.
Project principal investigator and UBC Okanagan assistant professor, Jian Liu says tellerium’s properties could enable greater energy storage and faster charging and discharging than conventional lithium-ion EV batteries. This ultimately means extended EV range and convenience for drivers.
“People have been looking into sulphur batteries for many years, but it is challenging to commercialize because sulphur doesn’t transport electrons at all. We are looking for a way to balance electronic conductivity with energy density as a way to make lithium-sulphur batteries viable,” Liu said.
There is still a lot of work to be done, as there are still significant limitations with using tellerium. This includes the element’s tendency to expand and contract but the researchers believe that problem can be overcome by creating a stable compound within the battery.
PICS Associate Director Bentley Allan says, if technologically successful, this project will accelerate transportation electrification and the shift to decarbonized energy.
“Extending the range and safety of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) would help accelerate adoption rates around the world, and support progress towards a sustainable circular economy through raw material recycling,” he says. “In addition, the kind of industry partnerships at the heart of this project are essential to building green industry here in British Columbia.”
The Tellurium Boosted Li-S Batteries for Zero-Emission Vehicles is a $180,000, three-year PICS project. The project is funded by the Government of British Columbia’s CleanBC Go Electric program.