Stanford University researchers have created a method to prevent defective batteries from catching fire.
Their solution includes a safety mechanism in the form of a type of miniature “fire extinguisher”, manufactured directly from lithium-ion batteries.
Although the team designed the test for large batteries used in electric cars, in the future the same technology could be applied to small devices such as smartphones.
The lithium-ion batteries can be found in devices controversial for fire hazards reported extensively in the news and by users, including the Samsung Galaxy Note7 and hoverboards.
The batteries contain components that are highly flammable and a short circuit, for example, can quickly heat up the device and cause a fire.
For many years, scientists have dealt with this problem using flame retardant additives in batteries that ended up reducing the batteries’ performance.
But the team of Stanford researchers developed a cylindrical shell of polymer with chemical flame retardant, which opens when the battery reached 160 degrees Celsius to prevent an explosion. The shell ensures the retardant and the battery remain separate from each other and therefore doesn’t affect the battery’s performance.
It is unlikely that this battery technology will be in cars or cell phones in the very near future, but scientists hope it can be implemented in the not too distant future.
The research was recently published in the the Science Advances journal.