Technology To Make Lithium-Ion Batteries Safer - InformationWeek

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9/25/2009
01:15 AM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
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Technology To Make Lithium-Ion Batteries Safer

We've all heard of laptop or phone batteries catching fire, or have even seen video of a battery igniting. Dell, Sony, Samsung and others have all issued battery recalls in recent years to take batteries out of circulation that were more prone to catching fire. It is not something you want going on in your pocket where you have your cell phone or on the tray next to you in an airplane. A Taiwanese researcher claims to have a new material t

We've all heard of laptop or phone batteries catching fire, or have even seen video of a battery igniting. Dell, Sony, Samsung and others have all issued battery recalls in recent years to take batteries out of circulation that were more prone to catching fire. It is not something you want going on in your pocket where you have your cell phone or on the tray next to you in an airplane. A Taiwanese researcher claims to have a new material that will reduce or eliminate the possibility of these scenarios.According to NetworkWorld, lithium-ion batteries are safe unless they are damaged or are defective in some way at the time of manufacture. That damage can cause the battery to overheat and catch fire. The solution is to inject a polymer called self-terminated oligomers with hyper-branched architecture (STOBA) into the battery. Of course, that sound so obvious today doesn't it?

STOBA is designed to suppress the heat, thereby preventing the flare-ups even on a damaged battery. This technology is already being tested in batteries in electric vehicles. Next up is to try it in portable electronics like phones, laptops and MP3 players.

I'll be glad to see this come to market. Like any computer, today's smartphones can lock up and do crazy things. I've had several over the years have some app, unbeknownst to me, take over the CPU causing the battery to get hot trying to keep juice flowing to the processor. Had the battery been defective or damaged and left alone long enough, it might have suffered the fate of a total meltdown. A quick soft reset solves the problem, but the battery takes several minutes to cool back down to a normal temperature.

The article claims the additional cost would increase the price of a battery by just two to three percent, but gave no timeline as to when we can expect it to become available.

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