New Variety of Lithium Battery Developed That Won’t ‘Explode’

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 battery exploding incident made headlines everywhere. But it is the only device that faced this problem. Plenty of smart phones working on lithium-ion batteries have shared the same fate of combustible incidents.

This is one of the risks of using lithium-ion technology, which is caused due to issues with the permeable polyethylene separator that keeps the battery’s cathode and anode components separate.

Research conducted in University of Michigan revealed that they can create less combustible and safer mobile batteries. This is possible by doubling the output of current lithium-ion cells, without utilizing additional space.

Jeff Sakamoto, an associate professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan said, “We have developed and demonstrated an effective approach to enable a new battery technology that uses a solid ceramic electrolyte instead of a liquid.”

“This ceramic is unique owing to its stability against lithium metal and high conductivity at room temperature. These two attributes enable the use of metallic lithium anodes, which could double the energy density compared to lithium-ion technology. Historically, lithium-ion performance has increased by a few percent per year over the last two decades. Moreover, lithium-ion performance is cresting at about 600 watt-hours per liter. This battery would enable a 100 percent improvement in energy density.”

While testing, the ceramic electrolyte has revealed no visible degradation after long term cycling, a problem which can eventually destroy regular lithium-ion batteries. This technology can also help towards significantly faster charging times.

There is a debate about whether it can actually call off the risk of battery exploding or not. Sakamoto acknowledged it as “dramatic” difference and research is required.

“Our ceramic electrolyte is made at 1,000[-degrees] Celsius in air,” he continued. “It is not combustible. However, lithium metal is also reactive, but not flammable. We are conducting tests to quantify the safety of lithium metal-based batteries, and acknowledge that lithium metal may pose safety risks, too.”

The next phase of research for making batteries safe involves developing a manufacturing process. It is hoped that this can be demonstrated in less than one year time from now, by July 2019.

“We hope to have a pre-pilot scale process in place by then,” Sakamoto said. “There are still many challenges, but we are making progress and learning a lot along the way.”

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