Mike Zimmerman, a mechanical engineering professor at Tufts University in Massachusetts invented a battery that seemingly cannot explode. Zimmerman managed to achieve this impressive feat by creating a battery which utilizes a certain plastic polymer that is fire retardant instead of a liquid electrolyte and a separator used by conventional lithium-ion batteries. This decision led to the creation of a battery that's not only significantly safer but also cheaper to manufacture than regular batteries. Zimmerman demonstrated the durability of his battery in the latest NOVA documentary which aired on PBS in early February. The remarkably safe battery was showed as a part of NOVA's "Search for the Super Battery." If watching David Pogue abusing batteries sounds like your idea of a good time, check out the video below which shows an excerpt from the documentary.
While the fact that Zimmerman's battery isn't prone to catching fire and exploding even when it suffers mechanical damage is impressive, its cost effectiveness is possibly even more notable. While this isn't the first durable battery ever created, it does seem to be one of the more affordable ones. However, that doesn't mean Zimmerman's invention is ready for commercialization. Tufts University's professor said that he still isn't sure how his battery could scale and he has yet to come up with a solution for testing its reliability without damaging it. Given that state of affairs, Zimmerman believes that it would probably be wise to find a partner willing to provide financing to evolve his invention with the goal of commercializing it.
So, while Zimmerman's invention certainly looks promising, it will probably be a while before it hits the market, provided that ever happens. However, as evidenced by the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco that the industry witnessed last fall, the search for safe batteries is still as important as ever given how consumer electronics manufacturers are adamant to keep reducing the size of their batteries in an effort to fit them into their new mobile products that are constantly getting slimmer. And while the aforementioned American professor is trying to come up with a way to make consumer electronics safer, another engineering professor on the other side of the world is currently trying to make it self-destruct in a reliable manner.