Where to go for the practical lean electrolyte lithium-sulfur battery? Comparison and prospect of highly soluble electrolyte and microly soluble electrolyte

On June 3, 2022, the team of Professor Li Yanguang of Soochow University held a meeting at Nano Research Energy ( a review paper titled “Towards practical lean-electrolyte Li–S batteries: Highly solvating electrolytes or sparingly solvating electrolytes?”

Lithium-sulfur batteries theoretically have an energy density much higher than commercial lithium-ion batteries (2600 Wh kg-1) and are considered to be the next generation of high-specific energy batteries with high prospects. Although lithium-sulfur batteries have made great progress in their development over the past decade or so, their actual energy density (<400 Wh kg-1) is still far from meeting the needs of practical applications (> 500 Wh kg-1). In the future, the realization of high specific energy lithium-sulfur batteries requires further increasing the sulfur load and reducing the amount of electrolyte (that is, using a low liquid-sulfur ratio). At present, it has been found that highly soluble electrolytes (HSEs) and micro-soluble electrolytes (SSEs) have opposite properties for the dissolution of polysulfides, which can effectively reduce the liquid-sulfur use ratio of lithium-sulfur batteries, thereby improving the overall energy density of batteries. HSEs are capable of dissolving polysulfides in large quantities, so the solid-liquid-solid (dissolve-precipitate) conversion mechanism of lithium-sulfur batteries can be achieved by using less electrolyte to solvent the polysulfides. SSEs change the reaction path of sulfur from a dissolution-precipitation mechanism to a near-solid-solid conversion mechanism, so it does not depend on the amount of electrolyte used. In recent years, HSEs and SSEs have made some progress in the application of lithium-sulfur batteries with lean electrolytes, but they also face many challenges in practical applications. Although HSEs and SSEs have their own advantages in lithium-sulfur batteries with depleted electrolytes, it is still unclear which electrolyte is more conducive to the practical development of lithium-sulfur batteries.

In view of this problem, the authors first elaborated the electrochemical reaction mechanism of highly soluble electrolytes (HSEs) and microly soluble electrolytes (SSEs) in lean electrolyte lithium-sulfur batteries, and then compared the advantages and disadvantages of HSEs and SSEs, and systematically summarized the challenges and coping strategies of HSEs and SSEs for lithium-sulfur batteries with lean electrolytes. Finally, based on the different conversion mechanisms of HSEs and SSEs in lithium-sulfur batteries with lean electrolytes, the authors prospect the development of future HSEs and SSEs from the aspects of reasonable design, reaction mechanism, stability of lithium metal anode and utility lithium-sulfur battery design of sulfur positive electrodes.

Figure 1: Challenges and strategies for high-solubility electrolytes (HSEs) and low-solubility electrolytes (SSEs) for lithium-sulfur batteries with lean electrolytes.

Related paper information:

Hualin Ye, Yanguang Li. Towards practical lean-electrolyte Li–S batteries: Highly solvating electrolytes or sparingly solvating electrolytes? Nano Res. Energy 2022, 1: e9120012.

Professor Yanguang Li received his B.S. in Chemistry from Fudan University in July 2005, his Ph.D. degree from the Department of Chemistry at Ohio State University in July 2010 (Supervisor: Prof. Yiying Wu), his postdoctoral research in the Department of Chemistry at Stanford University from July 2010 to June 2013 (co-supervisor: Prof. Hongjie Dai), and his career at the Institute of Functional Nano and Soft Matter (FUNSOM) of Soochow University in September 2013. The main research directions include: electrocatalysis, photocatalysis, and new chemical batteries. So far, he has published more than 150 academic papers, with a total of more than 38,000 citations, and has been continuously selected into Clarivate’s list of “Global Highly Cited Scholars” from 2017 to 2021.

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As a sister journal of Nano Research, Nano Research Energy (ISSN: 2791-0091; e-ISSN: 2790-8119; Official website: was launched in March 2022 and is co-edited by Professor Qu Liangti of Tsinghua University and Professor Chunyi Zhi of the City University of Hong Kong. Nano Research Energy is an international multidisciplinary, all-English open access journal, focusing on the cutting-edge research and application of nanomaterials and nanoscience technology in new energy-related fields, benchmarking against the top international energy journals, and committed to publishing high-level original research and review papers. Submissions are welcome, and APC fees will be waived until 2023. Please contact for submissions.

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