Lithium ion batteries. Are they as safe as they could be? Ankur Jain, an assistant professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at the University of Texas at Arlington is researching how to make safer lithium ion batteries. He wants to update the technology based on research he has conducted and the contributions of the global community that have reported issues with lithium ion batteries.
The National Science Foundation awarded Jain a five-year, $500,000 Faculty Early Career Development grant to further fund his research.
Jain says, “The end goal is to develop a fundamental understanding of the nature of how heat flows in energy conversion devices such as Li-ion cells and what impedes the flow of heat in those devices.” He says that due to the usage of these batteries in electric vehicles, appliances and many other applications, overheating issues arise. “Improvement in heat removal from a battery will directly improve its performance, as well as its safety and reliability.”
Elsewhere, Penn State University’s Battery and Energy Storage Technology Center have been conducting their own research for the betterment of ion-lithium batteries. They have allegedly put temperature sensors within the batteries to “monitor internal temperatures, detect problems and provide early warning for intervention.”
As more appliances are invented that require the power capabilities of Li-ion batteries, what is encouraging is that a method of explode-proofing batteries is being researched by multiple researchers in the engineering field.
Electric cars are one of the focuses where powerful Li-ion batteries that don’t overheat to the point of explosion or melting are needed. The Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG – a German carmaker – and head of Mercedes-Benz has said that they are devoting €500 million to building a second battery factory in Germany that will develop stronger Li-ion batteries to power their electric vehicles.
Thus, the research into overheating of Li-ion batteries is now needed more than ever to ensure these batteries are safe to release to consumers.