Lithium-ion batteries have been deemed rather unsafe. A number of rechargeable electronic devices catching fire didn’t do much to help their cause. However, a new lithium-ion battery technology developed by a Stanford team could help turn things around.
You’ve certainly seen self-balancing scooters around. Well, these are powered by said lithium-ion batteries which have caused some of the self-balancing scooters to go up in flames as the battery overheated. Lithium-ion batteries power a large number of consumer electronics. However, cargo planes and electric cars in addition to self-balancing scooters have been known to present a hazard due to the overheating of their power source.
Now, a team of researchers from the Stanford University have developed a new type of lithium-ion battery. The study published in the Nature Energy journal is a timely piece of research concerning power-efficient and safe devices. The new lithium-ion battery technology developed by a Stanford team enables the battery to work full-scale until it overheats, shutdown and restart as soon as it cools off.
According to Zhenan Bao, co-author of the study and professor of chemical engineer with the Stanford University, there is high potential for mass production of lithium-ion batteries based on the new technology. The exciting new developments are only based on really simple and cost-effective materials: plastic and nickel.
Relentless research and development in the area of clean energy and energy efficient devices is encouraged more and more. The latest United Nations climate agreement is a powerful tool to encourage states to move away from fossil fuels. At the level of day to day life this means that more electrically powered devices will have to enter the market, but not at any cost. Energy has to rely on renewable sources, making the push towards clean energy and a zero-carbon economy.
Against this background, the Stanford team applied nanotechnology to the lithium-ion battery. The concept was borrowed from Professor Bao’s recently developed wearable sensor which monitors your own body temperature. This sensor consists of plastic material encapsulating nickel nanoparticles which have spikes to the exterior.
The same spiky nickel nanoparticles were encompassed in an elastic polyethylene film. Coated in graphene, the particles conduct electricity when they are in contact. When the temperature gets too high, the elastic polyethylene film stretches, thus forcing the nickel nanoparticles to spread out. Under these conditions, the battery shuts down. When the temperature cools, the polyethylene film reshapes in the original form, bringing the particles crammed back together.
The Stanford team believes that their development offers both reliability, safety and the possibility of reversible strategy leading to both performance and safety.
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