Scientists have developed a variant of the lithium-ion battery that must be non-combustible. This was achieved by replacing the combustible part of the battery, the electrolyte, with a non-combustible one. However, the necessary development is still required before commercial production is possible.
That write scientists at the American University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They have researched the material pfpe, a fluoride-based polymer. This material should be non-combustible. The scientists discovered that it is possible to dissolve lithium salts in it. These lithium salts are used in lithium-ion batteries that serve in many electronic devices: dissolved lithium ions move through the electrolyte to the electrodes.
Several attempts have been made in the past to make lithium-ion batteries using a different, non-flammable electrolyte. However, these attempts showed that such batteries did not have the desired properties, making them unsuitable for production. The concept with PFPE developed by the American scientists appears to be suitable for this purpose.
According to the developers, several optimization steps still need to be taken before the lithium-ion battery with PFPE is suitable for commercial production. They want to improve the conductivity of the electrolyte even further. It is unclear when a non-combustible lithium-ion battery will see the light of day.
The catching fire of lithium-ion batteries mainly occurs in large units: Boeing has recently been in the news frequently because the lithium-ion battery of its 787 Dreamliner was a fire hazard. From time to time, reports also come out of fires with batteries in laptops or mobile phones.