In the modern world where gadgets are powered by battery sources, an important source of such power are lithium ion batteries that keep out devices – from smartphones to electric vehicles, functional.
The growth and popularity of these types of batteries has been accorded to their light weight, high energy density and ability to be recharge easily by the U.S. Department of Energy.
But despite them being very popular among gadget makers, there are a number of challenges that are faced by the lithium-ion batteries. But a change is set to coime.
“Lithium ion batteries of a conventional type still include liquids, and they are prone to spontaneous ignition,” John Miles, a professor at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Engineering, said in a television interview.
“We’re beginning to see solid state batteries coming onto the market now, with gels inside them and polymers instead of liquids,” Miles added. “They are much less prone to those sorts of accidents so there’s a natural progression in that direction.”
Another firm that is situated in Massachusetts also echoed the same sentiments and opinion and believes that its functional and operational limit is being reached by the lithium-ion battery technology and today’s generation of lithium-ion batteries are facing major challenges in terms of safety, energy density and cost of manufacturing.
“Conventional batteries have three components – an anode, a cathode and an electrolyte,” Mike Zimmerman, CEO of Ionic Materials, said in a television interview.
“The electrolyte is liquid, and that’s where ions flow back and forth, from the anode to the cathode, to allow charging and discharging,” he added.
“We actually have a solid material which replaces the liquid,” he added. “The problem with the liquid is it’s very volatile and can catch on fire, and people have seen that with electric vehicles and smartphones.”
And with reference to the above context, a “novel solid polymer electrolyte material” – as described by the firm, has been prepared by Ionic Materials. The speciality of this material is that it is bale to conduct ions at room temperature.
In the words of Zimmerman, the new material was described as the world’s first polymer that can conduct lithium ions. “It’s non-flammable and safe,” he said.
The firm has set large business plans for itself and envisions the technology being put to use in a wide array of gadgets.”Our technology will allow for much safer battery technology, so in smartphones there will not be any potential for fires and burning and injury to people,” Zimmerman said.
“It will also enable higher capacity batteries that last longer, so hopefully you can get two days on a charge as opposed to one day on a charge,” he added.
Ionic Materials was “working with large battery manufacturers” to build in this new material in to the batteries being manufactured for products such as wearable devices and eventually electric vehicles, said Zimmerman while talking about the future of his company and the usage of the new technology. These are expected to be on the market “in a couple of years.”
(Adapted from CNBC.com)