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The UK company OXIS Energy has thrown down the energy storage gauntlet, challenging the Tesla Powerwall battery with its new lithium-sulfur battery.


Yet Another Energy Storage Company Takes On Tesla

The UK company OXIS Energy has thrown down the energy storage gauntlet, challenging the Tesla Powerwall battery with its new lithium-sulfur battery.

OXIS Energy certainly isn’t letting any grass grow under its feet. In June, the UK energy storage innovator announced that it will be ready next year to market its super efficient lithium-sulfur battery, and barely a month later, the company has just launched a partnership with Anesco, a leading commercial and home energy storage installer.

Li-S energy storage OXIS

Powerwall Who?

Yes, that’s lithium-sulfur, and OXIS aims to leverage the low, low cost of sulfur to undercut the market for lithium-ion batteries.

Here’s the explainer from the company:

Sulfur represents a natural cathode partner for metallic Li and, in contrast with conventional lithium-ion cells, the chemicals processes include dissolution from the anode surface during discharge and reverse lithium plating to the anode while charging. As a consequence, Lithium-Sulfur allows for a theoretical specific energy in excess of 2700Wh/kg, which is nearly 5 times higher than that of Li-ion.

The announcement earlier this month set a price goal of $250 per kilowatt-hour by 2020. That compares favorably with current Li-ion (lithium-ion) batteries such as the Tesla Powerwall. According to OXIS, typically, Li-ion batteries cost in the $400 to $500 per kilowatt-hour range. Though, Tesla’s Powerpack is supposedly at $250/kWh (according to Elon Musk), while its Powerwall is closer to the typical Li-ion battery cost range. Though, $/kWh of capacity isn’t everything. Click that link above for much more context and math on that.


Lithium-Sulfur On The March

For a hint at what’s to come, OXIS is forecasting that its energy storage technology will achieve 400 watt-hours per kilogram in 2016. That’s based on the company hitting a mark of 300 Wh/kg last year, which represented a 12-fold increase in cell capacity over the company’s previous best effort 18 months earlier.

When OXIS let out word of that record, it was looking to achieve an energy density of 500 Wh/kg by the end of 2018, on top of the 400 Wh/kg predicted for next year.

The Anesco partnership provides OXIS with a strong market partner in the stationary energy storage installation sector, and OXIS CEO Huw Hampson-Jones is not shy about comparing the hookup with to Tesla:

Storage systems using lithium ion technology, such as the much publicised Tesla Powerwall, are limited by a technology that only achieves small incremental improvements each year. Such manufactures will want to improve performance, safety and cost of their products, so we expect that they will also switch to OXIS’s technology in the next few years.

So, there’s that. The company is also looking beyond the stationary energy storage market to electric vehicles, including autonomous vehicles like this one:

autonomous EV with Li-S battery

Li-S In The USA

Over here across the pond, Li-S technology is also getting closer to the mass market. A couple of years ago, our sister site Gas2 noted the potential for Li-S energy storage to sneak past Li-ion, and just this May, researchers at Stanford University announced a new “designer carbon” approach that combines bio-activated carbon with Li-S technology for enhanced energy storage.

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Images (screenshots) via OXIS Energy.

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Written By

Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.


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