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High-Performance, Low-Cost Lithium-Sulfur Batteries

Vorbeck Materials
ARPA-E Award: 
Jessup, MD
Project Term: 
03/06/2013 to 06/05/2015
Project Status: 
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
Most of today's electric vehicles (EVs) are powered by lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries--the same kind of batteries used in cell phones and laptop computers. Currently, Li-Ion batteries enable a driving range typically limited to 100 miles on a single charge and account for nearly 65% of the total cost of EVs. To compete in the market with gasoline-based vehicles, EVs must cost less and drive farther. An EV that is cost-competitive with gasoline would require a battery with twice the energy storage capacity of today's state-of-the-art Li-Ion battery at 30% of the cost.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
Vorbeck Materials is developing a low-cost, fast-charging storage battery for hybrid vehicles. The battery cells are based on lithium-sulfur (Li-S) chemistries, which have a greater energy density compared to today's Li-Ion batteries. Vorbeck's approach involves developing a Li-S battery with radically different design for both cathode and anode. The technology has the potential to capture more energy, increasing the efficiency of hybrid vehicles by up to 20% while reducing cost and greenhouse gas emissions.
Potential Impact: 
If successful, Vorbeck's Li-S battery would increase the efficiency of medium-duty hybrid vehicles by 20% and address the combined challenges of energy density, recharge rate, stability, cycle life, and cost.
Increased use of EVs would decrease U.S. dependence on foreign oil--the transportation sector is the dominant source of this dependence.
Greater use of EVs would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, 28% of which come from the transportation sector.
The ability to make higher performance batteries at a lower cost will give U.S. battery manufactures a significant and enduring advantage over their foreign competitors.
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Ping Liu
Project Contact: 
Dr. John Lettow
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Princeton University
Individual Consultant - Edward McCullough
Release Date: