A brand new electrolyte combination might stop EV batteries from catching hearth

Lithium-ion battery fires will not be all that widespread, however they’re a priority — simply ask electrical car makers and Samsung. Fortunately, analysis at Stanford would possibly scale back the probabilities of these gadgets lighting up. Scientists have developed an electrolyte (the substance that carries lithium ions between electrodes) that received’t catch hearth even at temperatures of 140F or extra. The trick, it seems, was further lithium salt.

The crew added as a lot of a specific lithium salt (LiFSI) as potential to a polymer-based electrolyte, bumping the combination from lower than half of the electrolyte’s weight to 63 %. The LiFSI served as an “anchor” for flammable solvent molecules, stopping them from catching hearth. The mix lets a lithium-ion battery proceed performing at temperatures as excessive as 212F.

Not like different makes an attempt at non-flammable electrolytes, the polymer-based design is gooey and might match into current lithium-ion battery parts. That lowers the prices and lets corporations use their present manufacturing processes. You possibly can see the expertise attain real-world merchandise faster than rivals that may require customized (and probably costly) manufacturing strategies.

There’s no point out of near-term makes an attempt to commercialize the brand new battery tech, which was funded by the Power Division. Nevertheless, the researchers already see a number of advantages for electrical automobiles. The design couldn’t solely decrease the chance of EVs catching hearth, however enhance their vary. Automakers continuously have to area lithium-ion battery cells to stop them from heating one another. This development would let corporations safely pack extra batteries right into a given space, permitting both increased capacities or extra spacious interiors.

This might additionally show helpful for telephones, laptops and different cellular gadgets the place area and security are priorities. You would possibly eke out extra runtime on a cost, or fear much less a few hearth in your pocket. This discovery wouldn’t stop fires ensuing from injury, however it might show reassuring in on a regular basis use.