Researchers unveil new lithium-sulphur battery technology
Researchers at Melbourne, Australia’s Monash University have announced the development of what they claim is “the world’s most efficient lithium-sulphur battery”.
The battery technology is said to have the capacity to power a smartphone for five days straight or allow an electric vehicle to travel for a 1000km on a single charge.
The batteries have uses beyond consumer technology, however, particularly when it comes to ironing out the inconsistencies of forms of renewable energy, for instance storing solar energy for release during the night.
The international effort was led by Dr Mahdokht Shaibani of the university’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, with team members from the University of Liege in Belgium and Dresden, Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology.
The lithium-sulphur batteries operate in the same way as regular lithium-ion examples – lithium ions flow between electrodes producing power while not being chemically changed. Charging a battery involves those ions being returned to their starting positions for the process to begin anew. The research involved redesigning the sulphur cathode electrodes to handle higher loads while maintaining performance.
“Successful fabrication and implementation of Li-S batteries in cars and grids will capture a more significant part of the estimated $213 billion value chain of Australian lithium, and will revolutionise the Australian vehicle market and provide all Australians with a cleaner and more reliable energy market,” said researcher Professor Mainak Majumder.
“Our research team has received more than $2.5 million in funding from government and international industry partners to trial this battery technology in cars and grids from this year, which we’re most excited about.”
Commercialisation of the technology is expected, with interest in the patented manufacturing process coming from lithium battery manufacturers and prototype cells having been already constructed.
Associate Professor Matthew Hill said: “This approach not only favours high performance metrics and long cycle life, but is also simple and extremely low-cost to manufacture, using water-based processes, and can lead to significant reductions in environmentally hazardous waste.”
The news comes after last year’s awarding of the Nobel Prize for chemistry to three figures crucial to the development of lithium-ion battery technology.
Dark Wolf: accelerating security for USAF
As a small company whose biggest customers are the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community, Dark Wolf Solutions (Dark Wolf) is a triple-threat, specializing in Cybersecurity, Software and DevOps, and Management Solutions. Dark Wolf secures and tests cloud platforms, develops and deploys applications, and offers consultancy services performing system engineering, system integration, and mission support.
The break for Dark Wolf came when the Department of Defense decided to explore software factories. Rick Tossavainen, Dark Wolf’s CEO, thinks it was an inspired path for the DoD to take. “It was a really great decision,” he says, “Let’s pull our people together as part of this digital transformation and recreate what Silicon Valley startup firms typically have. Let’s get into commercial facilities where we have open windows and big whiteboards and just promote ideation and collaboration. And it creates this collaborative environment where people start creating things much more rapidly than before.”
It has been, Tossavainen says, “amazing to watch” and has energized the Federal Contracting Sector with an influx of new talent and improved working environments that foster creativity and innovative ways of approaching traditional problems.
“We originally started working with the US Air Force about three years ago. The problem was at the time you could develop all the software you wanted but you couldn’t get it into production – you had to go through the traditional assessment and authorization process. I talked to Lauren Knausenberger and she told me about Kessel Run and what eventually came out of this was the DoD’s first continuous ATO [Authority To Operate].”
The secret to Dark Wolf’s success – and its partnerships with USAF and Space Force – lies in a client-first attitude. “We’re not looking to maximise revenue,” Tossavainen explains. “We tell all of our employees, if you’re ever faced with an issue and you don’t know how to resolve it, and one solution is better for the customer and the second is better for Dark Wolf, you always do number one. We’ve just got to take care of our customers, and I look for other partners that want to do that. And let’s work together so that we can bring them the best answer we can.”
Rapid releases and constant evolution of software are common themes among USAF’s partners. Like many firms operating in the commercial and public sector spaces, Dark Wolf leads with a DevSecOps approach.
“Failure is tolerated,” says Tossavainen. “If it’s not going the right way in three months, let’s adjust. Let’s rapidly change course. And you can tell really quickly if something’s going to be successful or not, because they’re doing deployments multiple times a day – to the customer.”