last year and in 2007 a number of fires and explosions caused
by overheating lithium-ion batteries resulted in some of the largest
recalls in history. Companies including Sony and many other large
computer manufacturers were forced to recall tens of thousands of
lithium-ion batteries used in notebooks.
lithium-ion batteries in mobile phones like the popular iPhone from
Apple have been allegedly overheating
and exploding leading to claims of injuries to some users in
Europe. Future batteries are looking to get away from Lithium-ion and
move to other types of batteries like Zinc-air for several reasons.
One key reason is that the Zinc-air
battery promises to deliver much more runtime form a battery of
roughly the same size as its lithium-ion counterpart.
batteries that are robust enough for use in the computer and mobile
phone market using Zinc-air technology are still years away according
to some researchers. Until then battery, manufacturers are looking
for things that make lithium-ion batters last longer and have less
chance to overheat and burn or explode.
that a new material
being called Stoba has been invented by a team of researchers led
by Alex Pang. Stoba is a material that sets between the positive and
negative sides of a battery and can turn from a porous material into
a film when temperatures inside the battery reach 130 degrees
The fire hazard with Lithium-ion batteries happens
when they battery develops an internal short that causes the battery
to heat up to as much as 500 degrees centigrade leading to explosion
or fire. The Stoba material would turn into a film at 130 degrees
centigrade and stop the reaction.
Pang said, "We have
introduced a totally new material to the battery." Anytime you
add new or more material to the battery, it will typically increase
the cost to produce the battery. Pang estimates that Stoba will add
only 2% to 3% to the cost of battery manufacture. Pang plans to try
to sell the tech to notebook and mobile phone makers. Batteries using
the material are expected to ship in 2010.
Adding the material
to lithium-ion batteries could help manufacturers ease the
restriction recently put into place on transporting the batteries.
Reuters reports that the U.S. DOT has recently issued a new
hazardous material notice for lithium-ion batteries.
government said, "Many persons who ship lithium batteries do not
recognize the hazards... fires in aircraft can result in catastrophic
events presenting unique challenges not encountered in other
The fear of fires caused by overheating
and exploding batteries on commercial flights has plagued the battery
industry since the recalls of notebook batteries first started.
Luckily, to date no serious battery related fires have occurred on
aircraft and no severe injuries resulting from batteries fires or
explosions have been reported.