Sulfur crystals

Oh man, there's another one of these studies on electric vehicle batteries that sounds too good to be true. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers are working on a breakthrough in lithium sulfur EV battery technology that could increase energy density to four times that of current lithium cells. The demonstrable discharge/charge cycle is estimated to last through 1,500 cycles, which means that a car using this tech could theoretically go something like 450,000 miles without requiring a new battery. Unless something else changes in a dramatic fashion, a future lithium sulfur battery would easily outlast the car. Better yet, sulfur is very cheap and so the cost of a battery capable of going about 300 miles on a charge could finally become affordable to a lot more consumers.

You knew there was a rub, right?

Here's the rub (you knew there was a rub, right?). The research is still in the early test phase, and the team has only just created bench-top button cells. They think it will take five years to scale up the technology to make automotive cells, and several more years after that to reach a level where commercial production is possible. But there's more: the researchers need to understand the influence of high and low temperatures on the chemistry. All of this could take even longer than expected, which is something we're familiar with in the future-battery world. Researchers have been on the cusp of increasing lithium sulfur capacity fourfold for a few years now, for example, but it has yet to happen.