Innovation That Matters

Leclanché’s battery has a much lower chance of catching on fire | Photo source Leclanché

Reducing the fire risk from lithium-ion batteries

Mobility & Transport

A fire retardant additive makes a new lithium-ion battery much less likely to catch on fire

Spotted: Lithium-ion batteries are becoming much more common, but they still have a number of drawbacks. One of these is the risk of fire. While both lithium-ion and lead acid batteries can generate flames (in a process called thermal runaway), lithium-ion batteries have more energy, so the chance of a thermal runaway is higher.

Now, Swiss battery manufacturer Leclanché has developed a new lithium-ion battery design that reduces the risk of a ‘thermal event’ by 80 per cent, with no reduction in cell performance. The secret is the use of a non-flammable electrolyte additive. The fire-retardant-containing batteries have already been validated in independent testing, using penetration tests.

Non-flammable lithium-ion cells could be much better suited to the railroad, bus, and truck markets, where there is a higher risk to passenger safety from thermal runaway. The new batteries could also reduce the need to replace batteries that are punctured or develop faults that make them more likely to catch on fire – saving money in repairs and operations.

Pierre Blanc, chief technology officer for Leclanché, points out that although solid state batteries will likely one day replace lithium-ion batteries, “there’s a critical need to enhance the safety of today’s high energy density lithium-ion cell technology. Most efforts, until now, adversely impact the performance or longevity of cells. Leclanché has been able to develop a high performance and high energy density lithium-ion cell exhibiting high safety characteristics without any negative impact on performance or longevity.”

As electric vehicles (EVs) replace internal combustion engines, the focus is increasingly turning to making batteries greener and more efficient. At Springwise, we have seen innovations in battery technology that range from giving used batteries a second life in e-rickshaws to the development of high-voltage vehicle batteries for longer range. 

Written By: Lisa Magloff



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