Scientists have developed a new design for a self-extinguishing rechargeable battery that can prevent fires and explosions caused by overheating.
The study, published in Nature Sustainability and reported by the Conversation describes how they replaced the highly combustible electrolyte – a substance that allows electric charge to flow between the battery terminals – with materials found in a commercial fire extinguisher.
The conventional electrolyte is composed of a lithium salt and an organic solvent, both flammable and prone to thermal runaway – a chain reaction of heat generation and chemical decomposition that can lead to a fire or explosion.
The researchers modified affordable commercial coolants, which are used to suppress flames, to function as battery electrolytes. Their electrolyte was nonflammable, heat-resistant, and compatible with any battery chemistry.