Standard Li-ion batteries
(Mirror Daily, United States) – After several “hoverboards” caught fire, as well as a number of electric cars, the scientific world has started wondering whether something could be done about the lithium ion batteries responsible. So, a team of researchers from Stanford designs lithium ion battery that doesn’t overheat.
Lithium ion batteries, despite currently being some of the most widely used batteries in the world, with hundreds of millions of them made every year, are still extremely unreliable.
The main problem with the things is that when they overheat, which they actually tend to do, they tend to catch fire.
Several cases of “hoverboards” – those self-balancing scooters – catching fire have been reported, so much so that airlines have forbidden on flights, and several universities have banned them from their campuses.
Other cases were reported of electric cars catching fire, and those cases are even worse, as the firefighters can risk putting the flames out normally, as they risk an explosion.
With all these problems, as well as with the climate change summit telling everyone to move to cleaner energy sources has prompted scientists to come up with alternative energy sources.
Several teams have come up with ideas like having the electrolyte in the battery be flame retardant, or making it solid instead of liquid, but the main problem with those ideas is that the battery becomes useless when overheated.
This is where the Stanford team comes in. After seeing the problems with the other batteries, the team thought to design a battery that would cool itself off when in risk of overheating, and then turn itself back on when ready.
So, the team used nanotechnology. They took a sensor made to monitor body temperature, made out of a plastic material, with very small nickel particles embedded in it, and with spikes attached to them.
The small particles of nickel were then put in a very thin sheet of elastic polyethylene, and then coated with a layer of graphene that was as thick as an atom.
The particles would have to touch in order to conduct electricity, but the polyethylene stretches as the device grows increasingly hotter, spreading out the particles, and stopping electricity from flowing through the battery.
When the battery’s temperature reduce enough, the plastic shrinks, allowing the particles to come back into contact.
Despite the very promising start, that’s all the design is so far – a start. There will have to be intense testing involved before the product becomes available for commercial use, but the researchers assure us that the batteries will be easily mass produced.
Image source: Wikimedia