The unique invention that keeps electric cars from catching fire: a revolutionary battery

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Tesla incendiándose en la cochera de su propietario

Loss One of the fire hazards caused by rechargeable batteries is Most important among electric vehicles. So much so that many cities in Spain already ban the use of scooters on public transport and some shipping companies do not allow cars with this type of propulsion to board their ferries. Firefighters have already made it clear on more than one occasion that they lack the means and training to deal with this type of fire, which may be accidental or the result of an accident.

Faced with this outlook, a group of scientists kept working until they found a solution: a battery capable of extinguishing their own fires. In the study, recently published Nature Describe a rechargeable battery design that replaces the most commonly used – and highly combustible – electrolyte Compound “present in a commercial fire extinguisher”,

“An electrolyte allows electrically charged lithium ions to move through a separator between the positive and negative poles,” two of the authors note. Conversation, “By amending Economical commercial refrigerants to act as battery electrolytes We were able to create a battery that extinguishes its own fire.”

Safe battery

High temperatures or extreme changes within batteries are one of the Most important fire risk vectors, Electrolyte formulations present in electric cars and some everyday appliances are dominated by organic molecules that are highly flammable.

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“This increases the risk of thermal runaway, which is an uncontrolled process Excess heat inside the battery speeds up chemical reactions Unwanted,” scientists say. Provoking more heat and starting more reactions. “The temperature inside can rise hundreds of degrees in a second, causing a fire or explosion.”

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Scientists have identified another safety problem when lithium-ion batteries are charged too quickly. “This can trigger chemical reactions that produce very sharp lithium needles, called dendrites, at the negative pole.” “These needles can penetrate the separator and reach the second electrode,” causing internal short circuit in the battery And causing overheating.

To eliminate all these scenarios before they happen, Replacing flammable electrolytes with retardant electrolytes This could be decisive and prevent a major misfortune. This “makes the battery safer and can buy time for long-term improvements that reduce the inherent risks of overheating and thermal runaway.”

Viewpoint of scientists who have published paper It starts with the premise of developing “an electrolyte that is not flammable,” he says. “He Transfer heat easily from the battery pack Which could operate over a wide temperature range, which was very durable and which was compatible with any battery chemistry.”

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They had to work with all that recipe of specifications. As he explains, Others were evaluating non-flammable organic solvents, but Non-flammable but in all cases contain fluorine and phosphorus. The elements obtained are very expensive and also harmful for the environment.

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So they decided to “adapt commercial refrigerants” so that they could meet all the requirements. This type of material is widely available on the market and, in some cases, is also environmentally friendly. They are used in fire extinguishers Electronic testing and cleaning applications.

“We are focusing on a mature, safe and affordable commercial fluid called Novec 7300.” It has low toxicity, is not flammable and does not contribute to global warming. they point to They mixed this fluid with other chemicals which increased the stability And were able to produce a useful electrolyte.

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One of the most important tests was when they pierced the instrument with a nail, It is a common method to evaluate the safety of lithium-ion batteries to simulate an internal short circuit. “If it catches fire, it doesn’t pass the test,” he explains. The developed batteries withstood the impact without catching fire.

“It had the same features we were looking for and allowed the battery to Will charge and discharge for a full year without losing capacity “It worked correctly in a wide range of temperatures – from 75 degrees below zero to plus 80 degrees –, transferred the heat generated very well and “effectively extinguished the internal fire.”

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For all types of batteries

researchers study Focused on Potassium Ion Batteries, because lithium is becoming a scarce commodity in some parts of the world and the energy industry is already working on other materials. However, as he explained, they have also shown that “the electrolyte works well for making self-extinguishing lithium-ion batteries.”

“It remains to be seen whether our electrolyte can do this Works equally well for other types of batteries They are under development,” he explains. Such as those containing sodium, aluminum or zinc ions. “Our goal is to develop practical, environmentally friendly and sustainable batteries, regardless of their type of ions.”

Alternative electrolyte prepared by researchers has similar properties to electrolytes used in current electronics Opens the door for its integration into production lines, “If the industry adopts this, we hope companies will be able to make non-flammable batteries using their existing lithium-ion facilities.” A key point that minimizes the investment required.

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