Stanford May Have Solved the Overheating Lithium Ion Battery

January 12, 2016 - Written By Alexander Maxham

We’ve seen numerous reports about how a battery that was being charged exploded, sometimes under a pillow and other times in someone’s hand. This is also why hoverboards have been banned in many places, and many airports and airlines. It’s a real thing, and definitely dangerous. Researchers at Stanford, located in Stanford, California, may have found a solution to this issue. Its logic is simple, but effective. Essentially what the researchers have developed, is a Lithium Ion battery which shuts down when it reaches a certain temperature, then turns back on once it has cooled down enough.

How exactly did the researchers figure this out? They attached a polyethylene film onto an electrode on the battery. What the Polyethylene film does, is it stretches in an event of heat and spreads apart. It’s also coated with nickel and graphene. What happens here is that the film becomes non-conductive, and thus stopping the electricity flow into the battery. Allowing the battery to essentially reset itself without any input from a user or even a computer.

“We can even tune the temperature higher or lower depending on how many particles we put in or what type of polymer materials we choose,” said Bao. “For example, we might want the battery to shut down at 50 C [122 F] or 100 C.”

There were quite a few tests performed with the film on the battery. One of the tests that they attempted was applying heat with a hot-air gun. And the battery did switch off each time it got hot. Then restarted once it cooled down to a specified temperature. Stanford researchers declined to state when this technology will be available and when we might see it in our laptops, smartphones, hoverboards and other gadgets, but it’s likely a few years away. As is typical with new battery technology like this. It’s a pretty important discovery. We’ve all felt our smartphones getting hot when they are charging, especially if we are using them when they are charging. And the last thing we’d want is for that smartphone to get hot enough to explode. That’s something that the researchers at Stanford are hoping to avoid in the near future.