Sumitomo Rubber advances high-precision measuring of sulphur compounds
5 Sep 2022
Technology to help accelerate development of high performance tires
Tokyo – Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI) has announced the development of what it describes as the “world’s first” technology capable of measuring the structure and chemical state of matter at the nanoscale.
In a joint research with the international centre for synchrotron radiation innovation smart at Tohoku University and Riken research institute, the Japanese manufacturer said it developed “tender x-ray nanoscope technology” which helps it visualise sulphur compounds used in lithium-sulphur batteries.
The study, carried out at Japan’s SPring-8 synchrotron radiation facility in Hyogo, provides “greater detail than ever before”, said Sumitomo Rubber in a 5 Sept statement.
The technology produces a “coherent x-ray diffracttion image”, which is achieved by irradiating sulphur compounds with a coherent tender x-ray beam.
Phase retrieval calculations are then used to generate “x-ray absorption image” and “x-ray phase image.”
The process is then repeated at varying x-ray energies, explained SRI.
The visualisation of the chemical state of the sulphur compounds is achieved through the combination of around 30 of such images.
“We believe that practical applications of this technology will bring about new improvements in battery performance,” said the company.
In addition, by applying the technology to tire research, Sumitomo Rubber expects to advance the development of even higher performance tires in the future.
Sumitomo Rubber said it has long been actively engaged in research involving sulphur, a major raw material in tires that has a significant influence on performance as well as performance longevity of tires.
The company began the joint research on lithium-sulphur batteries in 2011 with the aim to apply its knowledge from tire research to the new field.
According to Sumitomo Rubber, lithium-sulphur batteries have an expected theoretical capacity that is six to seven times greater than conventional lithium-ion batteries. They are also lighter and safer to use.
However, the commercialisation of lithium-sulphur batteries has been hindered by their poor cycle life.
Improving cycle life, Sumitomo Rubber explained, will require "extremely high-precision measurements" of sulphur compounds.
“So, our research group set about developing the world’s first 'tender x-ray nanoscope' utilising SPring-8,” said SRI.
Moving forward, Sumitomo Rubber is planning to utilise the 3GeV-class synchrotron radiation facility “NanoTerasu”, which is scheduled to go online in 2024, for measurements of lithium-sulphur batteries under charge-discharge cycling.
“We also look forward to applying this technology in our tire research activities, including deeper analysis of the crosslink structure of the chemical bonds between rubber and sulphur,” it added.
The rubber-sulphur advancement, SRI said, will help the company enhance performance sustainability in smart tires.