Sunday, July 23, 2023

Accidental discovery possibly leading to a breakthrough in the lithium batttery technology

The last week has been full of surprises. The most recent surprise came yesterday. The popular article published in Big Think (see this) tells about an accidental discovery, which could revolutionize battery technology. The so-called gamma-sulphur is a phase of sulphur, which stops the degradation of lithium-sulphur batteries so that they could give electric vehicles a range of thousands of kilometers.

It is good to start from the problems of lithium batteries.

  1. Also other materials, such as cobalt are needed in lithium batteries but their mining is very environmentally very damaging. There are also humanitarian problems: the working conditions are bad and even child labor is used.
  2. Lithium batteries quickly lose their capacity and charging times are long. Lithium batteries also suffer degradation.
  3. The energy density is low so that the lithium batteries tend to be very heavy, which limits their commercial use in electric planes and ships.
  4. Damaged cells can spontaneously catch on fire.
Lithium-sulphur batteries might provide a cure of all these problems but there is a new very serious problem. Polysulfides Li-S-...-S-Li are formed in the dielectric between the Li and sulphur containing capacitor platers and this reduces the number of charge cycles by one half from about 2000 cycles.

The completely unexpected discovery was as follows.

  1. Somehow the presence of gamma-sulphur as a phase of sulphur, unstable at room temperature but stabilized in presence of Li, prevents the formation of polysulphides Li-S-...S-Li. Gamma-S crystals are produced by dropping hot sulphur to water at temperatures above 95 degrees Celsius. They are smooth elastic and resemble rubber.
  2. What in their structure does prevent the formation of sequences L-S-....-S-Li sequences apart from Li-S-Li? Could the presence of gamma-S crystals prevent the formation of S-S bonds or are they formed but split very rapidly? Why is gamma-S stabilized in the presence of Li?
  3. One thing to notice is the chemical analogy with water: H↔Li and O↔S. Could this help? What prevents the formation of H-O-...-O-H sequences in water and one has only H-O-H? Could this be a good question?
Let us try to answer these questions.
  1. The first thing to notice is that gamma-S is not stable at room temperature. Somehow the presence of Li must stabilize it. The gamma-S crystals should grow by addition of S to compensate for the spontaneous decay occurring at room temperature. This could give rise to flow equilibrium.
  2. Could it be that the presence of gamma-S crystals competes with the formation of Li-S-...S-Li sequences. Could S prefer to join to a gamma-S crystal rather than to add to the sequences of S:s in Li-S-...S-Li? The formation of sequences would stop at Li2-S. This does not yet explain the stability of gamma-S at room temperature: differs from that in the absence of Li only in that Li competes with gamma-S crystal for S atoms. The mechanism must be more delicate.
  3. Li-S....-S-Li polysulphides must be produced at a considerable rate but they provide the S:s for the crystal growth of new gamma-S. Li atoms are like servants carrying the food S at plate to gamma-S, which eats it. There is a flow equilibrium and the total amount of Li-S...-S-Li stays very small although Li-S....-S-Li is produced with a high rate!
I have not yet said anything about TGD and quantum but in the presence of gamma-S Li2-S is a chemical analog of water.
  1. Water is the dominating element of living systems. Here formation of H-O-O-...-H is of course not a problem. The magnetic body of the water gives water its very special properties and makes it very special at physiological temperatures at which Pollack effect in presence of say IR radiation and gel phase gives rise to the formation of negatively charged exclusion zones by driving protons to dark protons at magnetic flux tubes.

    Capacitors involve both negatively and positively charged plates. Pollack effect is crucial in the TGD view of living matter and generates negatively charged entities such as cell and DNA double strand. Living systems involve a lot of dielectrics and the cell membrane is an analog of a battery.

  2. Could the counterpart of the Pollack effect be involved with lithium-sulphur batteries? Could Li+ ions take the role of protons. Could they become dark lithium ions at the magnetic flux tubes and flow to the negative plate along them.

    In Pollack effect for Lithium the counterpart of exclusion zone with an effective stochiomery H1.5O and negative charge would be negatively charged Li1.5O so that every fourth Li+ would go the the magnetic flux tube and end up to the opposite electrode or its magnetic body. It would create the same voltage along the space-time sheet associated with the electrolyte as along possibly still existing flux tubes connecting it to the negatively charged electrode. This phase could be essential for the stability of the battery.

  3. In fact, years ago I realized that electrolysis is not actually understood in standard chemistry! The mystery is ionization which requires large energies measured in electron volts. The electric voltage between the batteries is low and generates extremely weak electric fields so that it should have no effects in the atomic length scales.

    I have discussed this problem in an article about "cold fusion".

  4. "Cold fusion" (for the recent situation see this) is an anomaly, whose existence very many colleagues still find difficult to accept. "Cold fusion" also involves dielectric plates and the proposed TGD based model (see this, this and this) involves dark proton currents at magnetic flux tubes.

    "Cold fusion", or more precisely dark fusion, can be initiated at rather low temperatures and involves the formation of dark proton sequencies at monopole flux tubes. Dark nuclei are essentially scaled variants of nuclei but much smaller binding energy and can be generated in Pollack effect, which plays a key role in the TGD inspired quantum biology. Dark nuclei can spontaneously decay to ordinary nuclei and also protons can transform to neutrons. This liberates essentially all nuclear binding energy.

    This mechanism would generate protostars in which there is no ordinary fusion yet. The temperature increases because essentially nuclear binding energy is liberated when the dark nuclei transform to ordinary nuclei and eventually ordinary fusion is ignited. It is quite possible that all nuclei heavier than Fe are generated in this way outside stellar cores rather than in super nova explosions. Also many anomalous abundances of lighter nuclei could be understood.

See the article A revolution in lithium-sulphur battery technology? or the chapter TGD and condensed matter.

For a summary of earlier postings see Latest progress in TGD.

For the lists of articles (most of them published in journals founded by Huping Hu) and books about TGD see this.

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