Lithium ion batteries are a popular rechargeable power source, thanks to their impressive energy density. With that density however, comes safety risks as the acidic electrolyte used can catch on fire and cause chemical burns. Researchers at Washington State University however have developed a new electrolyte that resembles chewing gum, which may make the batteries safer.
For some time, researchers have been looking into solid electrolytes as way to make batteries safer, but these are generally poor conductors. The new electrolyte is instead gummy and is actually comprised of the liquid electrolyte material and wax or similar particles, for the electrolyte to bind to. Under normal operation, an electrical current can easily travel through those liquid parts, but if the battery starts to overheat, the solid particles will melt. This stops the current and thus removes the potential fire hazard.
Though twice as sticky as chewing gum, this gummy electrolyte is also flexible and lightweight, which will be very useful for applications in flexible electronics. Now the researchers are hoping to test this technology in real batteries.
Source: Washington State University