Dec 08, 2016 | Updated: 09:37 AM EST

Scientists Build Non-Overheating Batteries

Jan 12, 2016 02:45 AM EST

Stanford scientists are able to design a lithium-ion battery that does not overheat. Upon reaching high temperatures, this non-overheating battery will shut itself off and only powers back on once it is cool.

Recently, hoverboards are put in a bad light because of its exploding batteries. The batteries usually explode because of overheating. This is not exclusive to hoverboards alone, laptops and phones had been reported to explode due to overheating batteries. Now, researchers from Standford are able to develop a battery that should stop these accidents altogether.

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'People have tried different strategies to solve the problem of accidental fires in lithium-ion batteries,' Zhenan Bao, a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford, explained. Bao also said that they designed the battery to shut down and then revive over repeated heating and cooling cycling while maintaining good performance. Previous attempts in developing non-overheating batteries resulted in batteries with compromised performance.

Energy density and overall lifespan of lithium-ion batteries did improve across the years; however, usage safety is still considered as "unresolved." The looming safety questions on lithium-ion batteries has prevented its usage on large-scale and technologically innovative equipment.

There has been attempts on preventing battery fires. Adding fire retardants to the electrolytes are one of them. Another development in Stanford, spearheaded by Yi Cui, was able to create a battery that provides an ample warning once it gets too hot. However, developed batteries with these features are no longer functional once they overheat. Bao and his team address the problem of Cui's battery by attaching the polyethylene film to one of the battery electrodes so that an electric current could flow through it.

'To conduct electricity, the spiky particles have to physically touch one another. But during thermal expansion, polyethylene stretches. That causes the particles to spread apart, making the film nonconductive so that electricity can no longer flow through the battery,' Zheng Chen, lead author of the study, said.

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