OXIS Energy And NASA Collaborate On Future Lithium Battery Technology
OXIS Energy (Oxford, England), a developer of lightweight and safe Lithium-Sulfur (Li-S) batteries, has joined NASA's unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) program to create next- generation energy storage systems that are much lighter and safer than today's Lithium-Ion cells.
OXIS Energy is collaborating with NASA scientists at the agency's
Ames Research Center (Pasadena, Calif.) to develop high specific energy
Lithium-Sulfur energy storage cells that are substantially lighter and safer
than other Lithium-based chemistries.
OXIS energy began developing its technology in 2004 and today holds
more than 100 patents with another 103 pending. The company's use of sulfur in
construction of the cathode along with a Lithium metal based anode is the basis
for an inherently safer and lightweight energy storage device. To establish and
validate its claims, OXIS Energy has demonstrated its batteries can be safely
used in extreme conditions (high temperature and extreme pressure) while also
surviving industry-standard tests that puncture or otherwise force a battery to
short circuit, a condition that typically causes a conventional Lithium-Ion
battery to catch fire or even explode.
Both OXIS Energy and NASA will draw on their expertise for applications
where weight is crucial including drones, balloons, advanced sensor networks, high
altitude aircraft and defence for both terrestrial and planetary missions. Both
organizations expect to benefit from this association "“ it will help NASA to
improve its understanding of the capabilities of Lithium Sulfur technology and
OXIS to develop pouch cells meeting NASA's long-term battery requirements.
Lightweight batteries that can operate safely and be recharged
hundreds or thousands of times while retaining high levels of energy storage
capacity and a nearly 100 percent discharge ability are key to reducing payload
weights for NASA and other space agencies. This same technology can be applied
to terrestrial applications including electric vehicles (EVs), smartphones,
civilian drones, and Internet of Things (IoT) sensor networks that typically
need low power levels that must be maintained for very long periods with little
to no recharging opportunities.
According to OXIS Energy, sulfur represents a natural cathode
partner for metallic lithium because, in contrast with conventional Lithium-ion
cells, the chemical processes in Lithium-Sulfur cells include dissolution from
the anode surface during discharge and reverse lithium plating of the anode
while charging. As a consequence, Li-S allows for a theoretical specific energy
in excess of 2700Wh/kg, which is nearly five times higher than that of Li-ion.
OXIS's next generation lithium technology platform offers the highest energy
density among lithium chemistry options now available or soon-to-be in
commercial production. OXIS Energy offers a limited selection of batteries for
sale designed to address specific applications through its manufacturing
partners; the company is expanding to develop prototype production lines for a
wider range of applications including EV batteries and home energy storage.
Huw Hampson Jones, CEO of OXIS said about the new effort with NASA,
"Oxis Energy is delighted to be working so closely with such a world class
partner. We know from our collaboration with European and Chinese space
agencies that for every 1kg of battery weight saved, it equates with a launch
cost saving in excess of (USD) $20,000. When Lithium-Ion batteries are weighing
in at several hundred kilos (for large systems), the savings of deploying OXIS
Lithium-Sulfur would amount to several million dollars for the space agencies.
The benefit of NASA evaluating OXIS Lithium Sulfur cell technology is extremely
important in providing empirical data as to where else in aviation and defence
this technology may be applied."
The OXIS Energy/NASA collaboration is one aspect of the US space
agency's ongoing programs to support the development of research, defence, and
related unmanned aerial systems (UAS) as well as unmanned traffic management
(UTM) for a wide variety of commercial and governmental applications.