Technology 2 min read

Scientists Develop an Incombustible Lithium-ion Battery

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

A team of scientists from Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory has developed an incombustible lithium-ion battery.

Aside from being incapable of catching fire, the new cell can also withstand a wide range of extreme conditions. These include submersion, cutting, and even simulated ballistic impact.

Current Li-ion batteries are already great.

Compared with tons of alternatives, they offer an improved discharge, charge efficiency, and longer life-span. So, it’s not surprising that we use it to power all our devices, from our smartphones to electric vehicles.

However, there’s just one major downside.

Since the current lithium-ion batteries are built from flammable and combustible materials, they are susceptible to catastrophic fire and explosions. What’s more, most of the explosions occur without warning.

In 2016, tons of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 batteries spontaneously caught fire across the world. More recently, the FAA announced that it was banning specific models of the Apple MacBook Pro from flights due to a similar spontaneous combustion issue.

We depend on these batteries to power our everyday electronics. As such, we must create a safer battery.

Senior research scientist and principal investigator at APL, Konstantinos Gerasopoulos said:

“Li-ion batteries are already a constant presence in our daily lives, from our phones to our cars, and continuing to improve their safety is paramount to further advancing energy storage technology.”

That was what Gerasopoulos and his team did.

Developing an Incombustible Lithium-ion Battery

In their paper published in the journal Chemical Communications, the APL team described their latest discovery. It was a new class of “water-in-salt” or “water-in-bisalt” electrolyte – WiB and WiBS, respectively – that reduces water activity when incorporated in a polymer matrix.

But that’s not all.

In addition to elevating the battery’s energy capabilities and life cycle, WiB or WiBS also removes the flammable, toxic, and highly reactive solvent that’s present in the current Li-ion cells. According to the researcher, it’s a safe and powerful alternative.

Gerasopoulos noted:

“We are excited about where we are today. Our recent paper shows improved usability and performance of water-based flexible polymer Li-ion batteries that can be built and operated in the open air.”

Despite the impressive benchmark, the APL team still intends to refine the technology further. They’re currently working on improving the safety and performance with the goal of prototyping within a year.

Read More: New Thermal Battery Could be an Energy Game Changer

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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