Bulletproof Battery Material Promises Safe Large-Scale Rechargeables

Whether you use the best rechargeable AA batteries or AAAs, you want safe batteries.

What do you look for most in a battery? If you said “bulletproof materials” then the University of Michigan has a big surprise for you.

All right, so the obvious answer is “better battery life” but stay with us: It turns out that bulletproofing lithium-ion batteries brings several surprising advantages, as long as it’s done correctly. Apparently, battery fires in lithium-ion batteries are often caused by ions jumping off the beaten path and leaping to electrodes, like cars veering off the freeway and crashing into parking garages. Electrodes in our batteries have protective layers to prevent this, but they can become damaged over time or by unfortunate molecular physics, which is where we get burnt-out batteries or dangerous battery fires.

To make a safer battery, the University of Michigan took a long look at the famous bulletproof material Kevlar. Using nanofibers from Kevlar materials, they created small, protective shields for the electrodes, solving the problems that cause battery fires for our rechargeables.

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This discovery has limited meaning for our average mobile devices like phones and tablets, which rarely have battery fires because their lithium-ion battery packs are small and very stable. But bulletproof batteries do have important implications for the future of technology. Large-scale rechargeable batteries used in cars, major appliances, and equipment promise plenty of benefits when it comes to clean energy, but the potential for overheating and fires in these devices has many (including investors) worried.

Because Kevlar has excellent insulation properties as well as being super-durable, it can resist long-term heat without damage. This also allows the bulletproof battery to be built with a thinner form factor, letting them fit in tighter spaces. It’s great news for the creators of large rechargeable batteries for our latest electrical gizmos…as long as we get a commercially viable version of these Kevlar batteries. Fortunately, around 30 companies have already asked UoM for samples of their work, possibly with dollar signs in their eyes.

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Tyler Lacoma

When he isn't enjoying the beautiful Northwest outdoors, you can find Tyler on business and tech sites, writing about the latest news, analyzing trends, and generally making the Internet a more interesting place.

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