This Lithium Ion Battery Won’t Explode in Flames

January 13, 2016

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Scientific American reported on a new study in Nature in which Stanford University researchers say they have created a new type of lithium-ion battery that won’t overheat. The battery is covered in a new composite material, and shuts down if things get too hot.

Stories of cell phones and electric vehicles bursting into flame are not common, but they are also not unheard of. Researchers are aiming to make the batteries safer.

As quoted in the publication:

So a team led by Stanford’s Yi Cui and Zhenan Bao developed a fast-acting thermoresponsive material and used it to coat Li-ion battery electrodes. The material is a composite that the team made from polyethylene and spiky nickel microparticles coated with graphene to enhance their electrochemical stability.

As fabricated, the material exhibits high electrical conductivity at room temperature. But within one second of reaching a critical transition temperature, the polymer swells, pushing the spiky particles apart. This change causes battery conductivity to plummet by seven to eight orders of magnitude, instantly switching off the device.

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