New Li-Ion tech drops fire risk

August 12, 2010 // 10:23 a.m.

Tags: #aqueous-lithium-ion #battery #cell #li-ion #li-po #lithium-ion #lithium-polymer #nature #power-cell #water-based-battery

The days of spontaneous laptop combustion could be behind us if a new technology for water-based batteries takes off.

As reported over on Ars Technica, scientists have developed a lithium-ion battery which includes added water - forming what's known as a "aqueous lithium ion battery" - without harming the performance.

Although the technology has been around for a while, manufacturers have shied away from aqueous lithium ion systems owing to their extremely short lifespan: while significantly less toxic and infinitely less flammable than the electrolytes used in traditional batteries, the aqueous variants would often drop to 50 percent capacity after a mere 100 charges.

However, the research team - which has published its findings in Nature Chemistry - wasn't so quick to discount the technology, and has developed a method of creating aqueous lithium ion batteries capable of holding 90 percent of their design charge after a thousand cycles - a figure far more in keeping with their use in portable devices such as smartphones and laptops.

Sadly, the groups work is still very much in the prototype stage: although the lifespan of the battery they created was up to scratch, the overall capacity was sub-par - offering just ten minutes of juice before petering out.

However, with consumers waking up to just how eco-unfriendly the chemicals in your average battery really are, the team's work could end up in a battery near you in the next few years - providing, that is, that they are able to successfully scale the technology to the capacities required for active use.

Do you applaud anything which makes it less likely that your laptop will explode, or should the researchers be concentrating on increasing overall capacity rather than reducing an already very low fire risk? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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