Breakthrough: Lithium-ion battery discovery could change electronics forever

Breakthrough: Lithium-ion battery discovery could change electronics forever

Scientists have figured out a way to keep them from bursting into flames.

Researchers at Stanford University have just achieved a big breakthrough in the development of batteries: they’ve figured out how to make a lithium-ion battery that won’t burst into flames.

Lithium-ion batteries are powerful and rechargeable, making them an increasingly popular alternative to standard batteries, but their main drawback is how flammable they are, according to a Christian Science Monitor report.

So the researchers set about trying to make it so the batteries turn off before they reach overheating temperatures, and were successful in doing so, as described in a study published in the journal Nature Energy.

In a statement, Zhenan Bao, a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford who was a part of the study team, said that while many have tried to find a way to solve the fire problem on lithium-ion batteries, their solution could be the one everyone is looking for.

“People have tried different strategies to solve the problem of accidental fires in lithium-ion batteries,” she said. “We’ve designed the first battery that can be shut down and revived over repeated heating and cooling cycles without compromising performance.”

They used nanotechnology to figure out how to do this, essentially preventing electrons from flowing at a certain point. If successful, it could be a tremendous boon to an electronics industry that is growing increasingly reliant on lithium-ion batteries, as safety issues have been the main thing holding back large-scale production.

Problems with the batteries have led to a lot of high-profile incident. Tesla had issues with using lithium-ion batteries in its cars, and Boeing had to scrap some of its 787 Dreamliners after airplanes caught fire from the batteries. More recently, hoverboards were dropped from Amazon temporarily over concerns about safety issues.

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