Overheated Devices In The Past: Jelly Batteries Prevent?

Without even realizing it our lives have been taken over by the need to power virtually everything that we use from day to day. The problem arises when these items cannot be connected to the supply from our wall sockets. This is where batteries take charge, by powering our devices free from the constraints of connecting to an external port. But while today’s technology allows us to charge our laptops, phones and other items, the battery still resides within allowing wireless connection.

As batteries evolve, their power and longevity increases along with current lithium cells powering the majority of our electrical devices. These however use hazardous liquid electrolyte which can cause safety issues, as Dell found back in 2006, when they were forced to recall 4 million laptop batteries after the possibility of them catching fire. As the BBC reported, Dell solved this problem by refitting lower performance electrode batteries with the downside of a larger heavier unit.

Because ultimately the battery size determines the size and overall weight of a unit, there is obviously a need to find a more efficient alternative, and with the introduction of new polymer jelly this could be just the thing. Developed at the University of Leeds, researchers believe that they may have found a solution to safer, smaller and cheaper power alternatives.

The lithium jelly batteries remove the need to use hazardous liquid electrolyte that is contained in current lithium cells. Its benefits are said to include reduced heat preventing “thermal runaway” that has caused batteries to catch fire when pushed into hundreds of degrees. It is also promised that the jelly cells are as safe as polymer batteries but perform like liquid filled cells and cost up to 20% of the price.

To explain how the batteries work, Professor Ian Ward from the Leeds based University said, “The polymer gel looks like a solid film, but it actually contains about 70% liquid electrolyte.” He went on to say, “The remarkable thing is that we can make the separation between the solid and liquid phase at the point that it hits the electrodes.”

Backing up the study University of St Andrews Professor Peter Bruce stated, “Safety is of paramount importance in lithium batteries. Conventional lithium batteries use electrolytes based on organic liquids; this is what you see burning in pictures of lithium batteries that catch fire. Replacing liquid electrolytes by a polymer or gel electrolyte should improve safety and lead to an all-solid-state cell.”

So what will this mean to our future power supplies? Well as Pocket Lint comment, we will end up with far smaller lighter devices like laptops, without the fear of power shortages or batteries overheating. This will also have the knock on effect of providing electric vehicles with a more efficient and cost effective form of power. So really this is a big step forward and something that we will be keeping an eye on. Let us know your thoughts on the future of battery power.