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Old chemistry gives jolt to modern batteries

Manganese dioxide stops lithium-sulfur strategy from dissolving

5:13pm, February 15, 2015

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Some very old chemistry may provide a new trick for making better batteries.

Scientists have developed a strategy that makes sulfur-based batteries much more efficient by exploiting chemical reactions discovered in the 1800s. The research, described February 14 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, brings scientists closer to developing cheap, long-lasting batteries to power cars and computers or store energy for the electricity grid.

Lithium-sulfur batteries are a promising alternative to lithium-ion batteries, the rechargeable batteries used in cell phones, laptops and other consumer electronic devices. Sulfur is lightweight, plentiful and cheap, and lithium-sulfur batteries should be able to store much more energy than the lithium-ion variety. But sulfur-based batteries die quickly because sulfur used as a cathode tends to dissolve into the electrolyte solution that the ions move through as the

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