Safer, Thinner Lithium Rechargeables

New technology developed by researchers at the University of Michigan has been designed with the intention of preventing fires caused by lithium-ion battery malfunctions.

Researchers are making this possible by creating an advanced barrier between the electrodes in the lithium-ion battery. The barrier is made with nanofibers extracted from Kevlar – the material known for its use in bulletproof vests. The Kevlar nanofibers stifle the growth of metal tendrils that can become unwanted pathways for electrical current.

“Unlike other ultra strong material such as carbon nanotubes, Kevlar is an insulator,” said Nicholas Kotov, the Joseph B. and Florence V. Cejka Professor of Engineering. “This property is perfect for separators that need to prevent shorting between two electrodes.”

Short-circuiting happens in these batteries when holes in the membranes are too big and dendrites poke through to the membrane. They create a path for electrons within the battery, shorting it out.

This from University of Michigan:

While the widths of pores in other membranes are a few hundred nanometers, or a few hundred-thousandths of a centimeter, the pores in the membrane developed at U-M are 15-to-20 nanometers across. They are large enough t let individual lithium ions pass, but small enough to block the 20-to-50 nanometer tips of the fern-structures.

Read the full story here.

With thirty companies already requesting samples of this new material, the researchers hope to bring the technology to the mass market in the fourth quarter of 2016.

If you work in either the academic or industrial application of lithium-ion batteries, you’re not going to want to miss our next two meetings. Check out the ECS 227th Meeting in May and the ECS Conference on Electrochemical Energy & Storage with SOFC-XIV in July!

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