The issue with lithium ion batteries is that in each one there is enough electrical energy to create a spark, and they are filled with a flammable electrolyte. The only thing preventing the spark is a thin plastic separator, sometimes less than 10 microns thick. If there is a defect or damage to the cell that penetrates the membrane, then a spark occurs and the battery can light on fire.
What if you could make a battery in which it was impossible to create a spark?
We present a new lithium battery architecture which does just that. In this architecture, the metal foil current collectors have been replaced with polymer films that are coated with just enough metal to enable the battery to work, but not enough to create a spark. If a short occurs, the high current density causes the metal to burn out in microseconds, before enough heat is generated to light the cell on fire.
In addition, the plastic separator is replaced with a thermally stable separator that, even if a short occurs will never melt or shrink, isolating the short.
There are two additional advantages: cost and weight. Because most of the metal is removed, the weight of the battery is reduced dramatically, up to 20% in some cells. The cost is also reduced, because most of the copper in the cell is removed, eliminating the cost of the metal.
To drive industry standards and broad adoption, we have formed a consortium that brings together industry professionals throughout the supply chain who have world class expertise and market presence. Members include NASA, DuPont, Voith, Mercedes-Benz, K2 Energy and more.
To ensure our materials are available to everyone, we license the technology to the best advanced materials companies.