This lithium-ion battery of the future won't overheat

The battery automatically shuts down if it gets too hot

Researchers at Stanford University have developed a lithium-ion battery that shuts down as it begins to overheat, potentially meaning the types of catastrophic fires seen in hoverboards, laptops and airliners could become a thing of the past.

Lithium-ion batteries are used in just about all portable electronics. They're light, can store a lot of energy and are easily recharged, but they are also susceptible to overheating if damaged. A short circuit in the battery often leads to fire.

In the new Stanford battery, researchers employed a polyethylene film that has embedded particles of nickel with nanoscale spikes. They coated the spikes with graphene, a conducting material, so that electricity can flow over the surface.

But when the temperature rises, the film expands, and at about 70 degrees Celsius (160 degrees Fahrenheit) the conducting spikes no longer touch each other, breaking the circuit and causing the battery to shut down.

150108 stanford battery 2 Stanford University/IDGNS

Zhenan Bao, a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford University, examines a polyethylene film in a lab at the university.

Once the battery shuts down, a runaway thermal reaction is avoided and the battery cools, eventually bringing the nickel spikes back into contact and allowing the electricity flow to resume.

"We can even tune the temperature higher or lower depending on how many particles we put in or what type of polymer materials we choose," said Zhenan Bao, a professor of chemical engineering at the university and one of the research team.

The research was also carried out by Stanford engineer Yi Cui and postdoctoral scholar Zheng Chen. Details were published on Monday in the journal Nature Energy.

150108 stanford battery 3 Stanford University/IDGNS

A polyethylene film is tested for its reaction to heat in a lab at Stanford University.

"Compared with previous approaches, our design provides a reliable, fast, reversible strategy that can achieve both high battery performance and improved safety," Cui said in a statement.

The battery is a second job for the nickel-embedded polyethylene material. Bao, the Stanford professor, used the same material in a wearable sensor she developed to measure body temperature.

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Mobile

Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?