High-Performance, Low-Cost Lithium-Sulfur Batteries

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OPEN 2012
Jessup, Maryland
Project Term:
03/06/2013 - 06/05/2015

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
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Princeton University
Individual Consultant - Edward McCullough

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