A Solid Sulfur Cathode for Aqueous Batteries

Science  20 Aug 1993:
Vol. 261, Issue 5124, pp. 1029-1032
DOI: 10.1126/science.261.5124.1029


Because of its high resistivity and subsequent low electroactivity, sulfur is not normally considered a room-temperature battery cathode. An elemental sulfur cathode has been made with a measured capacity of over 900 ampere·hours per kilogram, more than 90 percent of the theoretical storage capacity of solid sulfur at room temperature, accessed by means of a lightweight, highly conductive, aqueous polysulfide interface through the electrocatalyzed reaction S + H2O + 2e- → HS- + OH-. This solid sulfur cathode was first used in a battery with an aluminum anode for an overall discharge reaction 2Al + 3S + 3OH- + 3H2O → 2Al(OH)3 + 3HS-, giving a cell potential of 1.3 volts. The theoretical specific energy of the aluminum-sulfur battery (based on potassium salts) is 910 watt·hours per kilogram with an experimental specific energy of up to 220 watt·hours per kilogram.