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Non-Flammable Lithium-Ion Batteries Developed By Scientists

posted 7 Mar 2014, 03:47 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 7 Mar 2014, 03:48 ]

USA (Next Media) -  US scientists have discovered a material that can substitute the flammable components in lithium ion batteries, offering a safer alternative to the commonly used, yet potentially dangerous batteries such as those that grounded the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

According to Knovel, scientists at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill have found a material, known as perfluoropolyether [PFPE], to replace the flammable component in lithium ion batteries.

The material has been used as an unguent for gears in heavy duty industrial equipment and was recently studied as a potential solution to the problem of aquatic creatures adhering to the bottom of sea-faring vessels.

The substance that can replace the electrolyte in lithium ion batteries is called perfluoropolyether. It can dissolve lithium salt and exhibits thermal stability beyond 200°C .

Lithium is also a highly reactive substance containing sodium and potassium. Like all batteries, lithium-ion ones consist of two electrodes separated by an electrolyte, a solution of lithium salts and organic solvents.

Most of these solvents are highly flammable. When a small fault in the extremely thin separators that keep the battery elements apart appears, it can lead to an internal short-circuit and a subsequent build-up of heat. This can trigger the battery to overheat and on some occasions burst into flames.

Lithium-ion batteries are highly flammable. In 2013, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner was grounded due to electrical fires during flights caused by its lithium-ion battery packs.

SOURCES: Knovel, The Economist, Howstuffworks, PNAS, Extreme Tech, Tree Hugger