note 7 explodeSeeing a lithium-ion battery expand and explode is a scary thing. Especially when you consider that lithium-ion batteries are commonly found in mobile devices like our smartphones that we either typically keep in our pockets or in our bags where they are close to our bodies. However researchers might have found a way to prevent fiery accidents in the future.

The researchers at Stanford University have basically managed to create lithium-ion batteries with a built-in fire extinguisher. This extinguisher comes in the form of a flame retardant called “triphenyl phosphate”, which is actually rather commonly used as a flame retardant for other electronic gadgets.

So what happens is that when the battery reaches a temperature of 150 degrees Celsius, the plastic fibers that keep the positive and negative electrodes separate will melt and will release the chemical. The researchers claim that during their tests, they found that it can actually stop batteries from burning up within 0.4 seconds.

This isn’t actually a new idea but in the past, it was found that such practices usually ended up affecting the battery’s performance. However the project’s lead scientist Yi Cui claims that this isn’t the case. “Using our ‘smart’ separators, battery electrochemical performance will not be affected by the flame retardant under normal conditions. However, once there is a potential thermal runaway, the flame retardant will be activated and nip the fire or explosion in the bud.” More details on the project can be found on Science Mag’s website.

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