in cars and gadgets often have the same drawbacks. They tend to take a long
time to charge and can be dangerous if they overheat or are punctured. A few
years back there were widespread recalls after batteries
were found to overheat and explode in some laptops.
of researchers from the University of Leeds has a new battery design that they
hope will be safer and more efficient than current lithium batteries.
Current lithium batteries use a liquid electrolyte. The researchers have developed a new lithium jelly
that can be used to replace that liquid electrolyte in today’s batteries. The
hope is that the new lithium jelly would allow batteries in a laptop to be
smaller and therefore lighter and could also make for more efficient electric
"Safety is of paramount importance in lithium batteries. Conventional
lithium batteries use electrolytes based on organic liquids; this is what you
see burning in pictures of lithium batteries that catch fire. Replacing liquid
electrolytes by a polymer or gel electrolyte should improve safety and lead to
an all-solid-state cell," said Professor Peter Bruce from the University
of St Andrews, who was not involved in the study.
The jelly wouldn't leak out if the battery were punctured. The jelly batteries
would also be able to prevent so-called “thermal runaway” where the battery in
a device can quickly reach a very high temperature and catch fire.
is a rubber-like polymer that has a conductive electrolyte in a flexible gel
film that sits between battery electrodes.
polymer gel looks like a solid film, but it actually contains about 70% liquid
electrolyte," explained the study's lead author, Professor Ian Ward from
the University of Leeds. "The remarkable thing is that we can make the
separation between the solid and liquid phase at the point that it hits the
part is that the jelly batteries are said to be a safe as polymer batteries,
but perform like liquid filled batteries while costing 10% to 20% less than the
other battery types.