A Lithium-Ion Battery That Works Even When It’s on Fire

Maria J. Danford

Graphic: Nano Letters/ACS In a paper published past thirty day period in Nano Letters, the crew explain how they’ve designed a novel “fireproof” strong-state electrolyte (SSE) for use in lithium-ion batteries. “We handle the trouble of flammability in SSEs by adding a fire retardant,” suggests Jiayu Wan, a postdoctoral researcher […]


In a paper published past thirty day period in Nano Letters, the crew explain how they’ve designed a novel “fireproof” strong-state electrolyte (SSE) for use in lithium-ion batteries. “We handle the trouble of flammability in SSEs by adding a fire retardant,” suggests Jiayu Wan, a postdoctoral researcher in Cui’s lab and co-writer of the paper. 

They employed a flame-retardant materials known as decabromodiphenyl ethane, or DBDPE for brief. To make their new strong-state electrolyte, the crew to start with designed a skinny movie by combining DBDPE with polyimide, a mechanical enforcer. 

Employing polyimide has several advantages, suggests Wan. Aside from staying “mechanically genuinely strong,” it features a higher melting level (creating it fewer likely that a brief circuit will arise), a options-based mostly production system (that’s appropriate with how batteries are built nowadays), and it is inexpensive (3M even has movie tapes built from it).

The hitch, on the other hand, is that polyimide just cannot perform ions. To get around this snag, Wan and his colleagues included two diverse polymers, polyethylene oxide (PEO) and lithium bistrifluoromethanesulfonylimide (LiTFSI), to the combine.

“It’s innovative—they’ve smartly employed co-polymers, which is a new way to address the flammable polymer electrolyte battery trouble,” suggests Chunsheng Wang, a researcher who experiments new battery systems at the College of Maryland.

Strong-state electrolytes just take two main varieties. You can make them from ceramics, a materials that conducts ions very well but is exceptionally brittle and results in thick batteries, which have reduced power density. Or, you can have electrolytes composed of polymers, which are small charge, light-weight, and adaptable. They’re also “soft,” this means there’s small resistance along the interface of the electrode and electrolyte, which permits the electrolyte to perform ions effortlessly.

But polymer electrolytes also have problems. “This softness usually means they are unable to suppress lithium dendrite propagation, so they are flammable,” suggests Wang, referring to the little needle-like projections that improve from a battery’s anode. Dendrites can consequence immediately after repeated cycles of charging and discharging when these lithium crystals pierce a battery’s separator, they can start off fires.

“A good deal of folks believe that for liquid electrolytes, there is no resistance and dendrites can improve by way of the electrolyte,” suggests Wang. “But if you switch the liquid with a strong, which is mechanically more powerful, the lithium may well be blocked.”

Their mechanical power, along with lessened flammability, are just some causes why strong-state electrolytes have garnered interest among researchers in equally academia and market. A third explanation lies with the reality that they permit batteries to be stacked. “Because the electrolyte does not move, you can effortlessly place them collectively without having wires… which is significant for raising power density,” suggests Wang.

There’s no great option, though. “All the diverse SSEs have some issues, so you have to harmony them out,” he suggests.

It’s a intention that the crew at Stanford would seem one phase closer to reaching. Not only is their new strong-state electrolyte ultrathin (measuring in between 10 to 25 micrometers), it also provides a higher certain capability (131 milliampere several hours for each gram, mAh/g, at 1 degree C), and demonstrates good cycling effectiveness (long lasting three hundred cycles at 60 degrees C). Crucially, prototype battery cells built making use of it proved to work in spite of catching fire (in this online video, an LED continues to be lit even though the battery powering it is on fire).

“This was really shocking to us,” suggests Stanford’s Wan. “Usually a battery will just explode with a fire. But with this one, not only does it not explode, it nonetheless features.” 

Today, the crew proceeds to check out new elements and constructions for use in strong-state electrolytes, with the goal of maximizing present-day density and mobile capability. Claims Wan: “The challenge now is to make the battery demand quicker, have a greater power density, and to past more time.”

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