Purdue University scientists have proposed a new technique for addressing the flammability issue haunting lithium-ion batteries.
The patented technique also addresses the need for high plasticity in the material within the battery that connects the anode and cathode electrodes.
Li-ion battery fires gained worldwide notoriety when they began to explode in Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner fleet.
They have since been held responsible for fires affecting automobiles, laptops, smartphones and e-bikes.
According to Purdue professor Ernesto E. Marinero, the main culprit in question is the battery’s liquid electrolyte:
“These liquids are used in what constitutes the highway, the electrolyte, for shuttling reversibly lithium ions between the battery electrodes during charge and discharge cycles.”
Marinero’s team has now created a novel composite solid-state electrolyte material system – comprising of ceramic nanoparticles embedded in polymer matrixes – to sort out this problem.
“These patented technologies are designed to provide a safer path within the battery and increase the ionic conductivity and performance,” intones Marinero.
“In addition, these composite materials potentially enable the use of pure lithium metal anodes, to increment the volumetric capacity density of existing batteries by a factor of about five.”
According to Marinero, the university’s innovations have applications beyond automobiles and personal electronic devices.
The new battery technology for instance could be used to improve the functions and lifetime of medical devices such as pacemakers.
Andres Villa, a doctoral research assistant who works in Marinero’s laboratory, played a key role in developing the new technology.
He found that less than 10% per weight of ceramic nanoparticles in a polymer composite electrolyte are needed to surpass the ionic conductivity of thin films comprising only the ceramic material.
This, according to Villa, significantly cuts down production costs.
Image and content: SlashGear/Purdue University