Sugar coating opens a path to low cost lithium sulfur batteries

Offering the potential to:

  • Drive an electric vehicle from Melbourne to Sydney on a single charge
  • Create lightweight batteries for drones and submarines
  • Unlock new avenues in aviation and maritime industries
  • Produce batteries in Australia with Australian lithium, without using cobalt and rare earth minerals.
Melbourne to Sydney on one charge: the new lithium-sulfur battery technology could store two to five times more energy. The Monash Energy Institute team (L-R): Mahdokht Shaibani, Mainak Majumder, Matthew Hill, Yingyi Huang.
Credit: Monash Energy Institute

Simply by adding sugar, researchers from the Monash Energy Institute have created a longer-lasting, lighter, more sustainable rival to the lithium-ion batteries that are essential for aviation, electric vehicles and submarines.

The Monash team, assisted by CSIRO, report in today’s edition of Nature Communications that using a glucose-based additive on the positive electrode they have managed to stabilise lithium-sulfur battery technology, long touted as the basis for the next generation of batteries.

“In less than a decade, this technology could lead to vehicles including electric buses and trucks that can travel from Melbourne to Sydney without recharging. It could also enable innovation in delivery and agricultural drones where light weight is paramount,” says lead author Professor Mainak Majumder, from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Associate Director of the Monash Energy Institute.

In theory, lithium-sulfur batteries could store two to five times more energy than lithium-ion batteries of the same weight. The problem has been that, in use the electrodes deteriorated rapidly, and the batteries broke down. There were two reasons for this – the positive sulfur electrode suffered from substantial expansion and contraction weakening it and making it inaccessible to lithium, and the negative lithium electrode became contaminated by sulfur compounds.

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Galaxies pump out contaminated exhausts

Research reveals how star-making pollutes the cosmos

Animation available, astronomers available in Australia and UK for interview

Galaxies pollute the environment they exist in, researchers have found.

A team of astronomers led by Alex Cameron and Deanne Fisher from the ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D) used a new imaging system on at the WM Keck Observatory in Hawaii to confirm that what flows into a galaxy is a lot cleaner than what flows out.

The research is published today in The Astrophysical Journal.

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New type of massive explosion explains mystery star

‘Magneto-rotational hypernova’ soon after the Big Bang fuelled high levels of uranium, zinc in ancient stellar oddity

A massive explosion from a previously unknown source – 10 times more energetic than a supernova – could be the answer to a 13-billion-year-old Milky Way mystery.

Astronomers led by David Yong, Gary Da Costa and Chiaki Kobayashi from Australia’s ARC Centre of Excellence in All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D) based at the Australian National University (ANU) have potentially discovered the first evidence of the destruction of a collapsed rapidly spinning star – a phenomenon they describe as a “magneto-rotational hypernova”.

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Where does it hurt, Rover?

Adelaide invention revolutionises veterinary x-rays

Your best friend can’t tell you where it hurts but now, thanks to an invention by Adelaide company Micro-X, vets have a better tool to diagnose your pet’s health problems.

The Micro-X Rover, a mobile x-ray machine was first designed for the Australian military as an ultra-mobile battlefield-ready x-ray machine delivering the full spectrum of imaging solutions.

It has now been adapted to be used by vets, using custom software tailored for small animal exams by Micro-X’s US partner Varex Imaging Corporation.

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Bend it like Einstein: Astronomers turn galaxies into magnifiers

New technique helps NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope

Astronomers have turned a cluster of galaxies into a gargantuan magnifying lens, using it to study another galaxy, 10.7 billion light years away, in unprecedented detail.

Taking advantage of a phenomenon known as “gravitational lensing”, the team of scientists, led by NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre scientist Dr Soniya Sharma, identified star forming regions in the distant and ancient galaxy.

The research was funded by Australia’s ARC Centre of Excellence in All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D), and will be of direct benefit to NASA’s next orbiting observer.

Without the use of the massive magnifying effect, the galaxy, dubbed cswa128, would be a tiny blur to even the most powerful telescopes on Earth. With it, the astronomers can see stars being formed just three billion years after the Big Bang.

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Milky Way not unusual, astronomers find

Detailed cross-section of another galaxy reveals surprising similarities to our home

The first detailed cross-section of a galaxy broadly similar to the Milky Way, published today, reveals that our galaxy evolved gradually, instead of being the result of a violent mash-up. The finding throws the origin story of our home into doubt.

The galaxy, dubbed UGC 10738, turns out to have distinct ‘thick’ and ‘thin’ discs similar to those of the Milky Way. This suggests, contrary to previous theories, that such structures are not the result of a rare long-ago collision with a smaller galaxy. They appear to be the product of more peaceful change.

And that is a game-changer. It means that our spiral galaxy home isn’t the product of a freak accident. Instead, it is typical.

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More than 60 years to achieve gender equity?

Modelling shows urgent need to revamp hiring and working conditions for astronomers

It will take until at least 2080 before women make up just one-third of Australia’s professional astronomers, an analysis published today in the journal Nature Astronomy reveals.

“Astronomers have been leaders in gender equity initiatives, but our programs are not working fast enough,” says Professor Lisa Kewley, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for All-Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D).

Professor Lisa Kewley.
Credit: ASTRO 3D

Kewley is also an ARC Laureate Fellow at the Australian National University’s Research School for Astronomy and Astrophysics. She developed workforce forward modelling that can predict the fraction of women at all levels in astronomy from 2021 to 2060, given different initiatives in hiring or retention. The models show that Australia’s university leadership need to adopt 50:50 or affirmative action hiring and introduce exit surveys and retention initiatives.

“With these initiatives we can reach one-third women in 11 years, growing to 50 per cent in 25,” she said.

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Can a brain scanner fit into an ambulance?

Innovative Adelaide-based manufacturer Micro-X has received funding to develop a game-changing portable brain scanner from the Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund.

The scanner will be small enough to be placed in ambulances or Royal Flying Doctor Service aircraft and will give more Australians rapid access to treatment in the crucial first “golden hour” after a stroke.

It is expected to revolutionise stroke care particularly for rural and remote Australians who are twice as likely as city stroke survivors to be left with a serious, lifelong disability.

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At cosmic noon, puffy galaxies make stars for longer

Galaxies with extended disks maintain productivity, research reveals

Massive galaxies with extra-large extended “puffy” disks produced stars for longer than their more compact cousins, new modelling reveals.

In a paper published in the Astrophysical Journal, researchers led by Dr Anshu Gupta and Associate Professor Kim-Vy Tran from Australia’s ARC Centre of Excellence in All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D), show that the sheer size of a galaxy influences when it stops making new stars. 

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The secrets of 3000 galaxies laid bare

Completion of Australian-led astronomy project sheds light on the evolution of the Universe

The complex mechanics determining how galaxies spin, grow, cluster and die have been revealed following the release of all the data gathered during a massive seven-year Australian-led astronomy research project.

The scientists observed 13 galaxies at a time, building to a total of 3068, using a custom-built instrument called the Sydney-AAO Multi-Object Integral-Field Spectrograph (SAMI), connected to the 4-metre Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT) at Siding Spring Observatory in New South Wales. The telescope is operated by the Australian National University.

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