Scientists have discovered a new way to create high-output lithium ion batteries that do not boast a risk of fire, offering peace-of-mind as the world continues to make greater use of the technology.
Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) are found in nearly every new piece of mobile technology seen within the last several years. Smart phones, tablets, electric cars and even the massive 787 Boeing Dreamliner passenger planes make indispensable use of these batteries.
However, past events have warned us that these batteries do not come without risks. More than a year ago, five 787 Boeing Dreamliners all experienced electrical malfunction and even fires associated with their high-output LIBs. According to BBC News, this was such a threat to passenger safety that all 50 of the massive planes were temporarily grounded. The planes were only allowed to take flight once more when the compartment containing the battery was altered so that it could resist and contain flames. However, the risk of the batteries catching fire themselves remained unchanged.
Now, scientists report that they have finally determined how to make these batteries safer while maintaining their high efficiency.
According to a the American Chemical Society (ACS), experts have long known that the fire risk associated with LIBs could be reduced if the liquid electrolytes that help carry ions between the battery's electrodes were made solid instead. However, past research has shown that solid-state LIBs are not as efficient at holding a charge and providing high output, especially at room-temperature.
Now, researchers have developed a new family of solid polymer electrolytes that can efficiently conduct lithium ions at room temperature. These batteries are the first of their kind to have both high output and high life-span despite their solid state - potentially making them ideal for the modern market.
An ACS press release detailing this achievement was published on May 14.
A full study of the batteries was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society on April 22.
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