Researchers at Stanford University have found a way to incorporate fire-extinguishing materials into lithium-ion batteries.
According to the researchers, by encapsulating flame-retardant triphenyl phosphate (TPP) in a plastic microfibre shell, it is possible to stop the chemical reaction that causes li-ion battery cells to combust. The method does not prevent batteries from overheating (which is what typically leads to battery fires), rather it acts as a fire-extinguisher.
Specifically, several TPP-containing microfibre shell are inserted into the battery’s electrolyte, with the shell keeping the retardant from coming into contact with the flammable electrolyte material. Once the battery reaches 160° Celsius, the plastic fibres in the shell reach their melting point and the retardant is released into the electrolyte, preventing a potential fire.
Not only is TPP more efficient than other flame-retardant materials, the fumes it gives off are also less toxic, according to the researchers.
This material could be used in smartphone batteries, preventing disasters such as the widespread Samsung battery explosions that occurred in 2016.
The full research paper has been published in Science Advances.