Keeping Battery Fires at Bay

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Fires on or in aircraft are anathema, leaving a pilot and passengers with few options. Even a laptop starting to smoke in the cabin will cause an emergency descent and a diversion to the nearest airport. As designers incorporate larger lithium batteries into new aircraft (and they are essential to motor-driven planes), the need to keep things from self-igniting becomes imperative. Researchers at Stanford University and the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, working with funding from the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR) discovered, “That adding two chemicals to the electrolyte of a lithium metal battery prevents the formation of dendrites – ‘fingers’ of lithium that pierce the barrier between the battery’s halves, causing it to short …

Better Batteries: Wrap It in Seaweed

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

MIT’s Technology Review reported last September that researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Clemson University had formulated a way to keep silicon anodes in lithium batteries from cracking under the strain of expending and contracting while they charge and discharge. They added a “binding agent and food additive derived from algae” that is in turn derived from seaweed. This enables the anode to charge and discharge at an eight times greater rate than an equivalent carbon anode without breaking down, a common problem for “raw” silicon. Environmentally friendly, the manufacturing processes for this type of anode are claimed to be clean and inexpensive. According to the Technology Review, “Lithium-ion batteries store energy by accumulating ions at the anode; …