A group of researchers has announced that they successfully developed a new type of lithium-ion battery that carries a built-in ‘fire extinguisher’ that minimizes the possibilities of fires right at the source.
The new technology developed by the Stanford University researchers places the li-ion battery inside a shell made of triphenyl phosphate which, is basically a highly flame-retardant chemical. If a faulty battery heats up and reaches a temperature of 150 degree Celsius, the plastic will melt and the chemical inside will be released, preventing the fire from spreading any further.
Originally published in the Science Mag, the research underlines the fact that while energy densities of batteries continue to increase, safety issues are also becoming more prevalent than ever before. It then proceeds on to explaining how their invention works:
“During thermal runaway of the lithium-ion battery, the protective polymer shell would melt, triggered by the increased temperature, and the flame retardant would be released, thus effectively suppressing the combustion of the highly flammable electrolytes.”
The researchers also pointed out that having a fire/explosion-resistant battery does not necessarily mean that your device won’t be harmed if it were to come with a faulty battery, or if the battery overheats due to a less than adequate power source or charging cable. Instead, the technology will help prevent injuries or damage to property.
According to the study, this new battery can find its use in smartphones, as well as other types of devices too. However, note that this is still a prototype technology and may require further improvisations to become commercially viable. So, while we may not necessarily see smartphone manufacturers embracing it real soon, it does make the kind of safety precaution that end-users would want battery makers to focus on.