Gadget fires could be a thing of the past, if a recent battery breakthrough comes to market. A team of University of Michigan researchers have created a new type of lithium-ion battery using Kevlar fibers, which can not only prevent combustion, but can pack more power in smaller forms as well. The new battery is expected to begin mass production in the fourth quarter of 2016.
Kevlar, best known as the material used in bulletproof vests, is a heat-resistant and resilient fiber. The Michigan scientists used Kevlar to create a thin membrane with holes that are just large enough to let lithium ions pass through to create a charge, but small enough to prevent the atoms from sticking together and becoming fern-like structures called dendrites.
When they become too long, the dendrites can poke through the membrane and reach an electrode on the other end, making it possible to short the circuit. According to the team, this is how battery fires in the grounded Boeing 787 Dreamliners in 2013 had started.
Thanks to the special properties of the material, the team says it was able to get more energy into the same battery cell size, or shrink it.
We've previously seen a cool flexible battery that bends to fit in straps of smartwatches, and works despite being cut. The bendy power pack is already in the market, but has yet to make an appearance in notable wearables. Thirty unnamed companies have requested samples of the new Kevlar battery, which hopefully means we can see this technology in various types of devices soon.