By now, we’ve all seen multiple YouTube videos of exploding phones, e-cigarettes, and hoverboards. It’s one of the risks of powering devices with lithium-ion batteries. But researchers at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the University of Maryland have come up with a solution, according to a UPI news report. These researchers have come up with a battery that uses a water-salt solution as the electrolyte medium. The electrolyte in the battery helps carry lithium ions between the cathode and the anode allowing for the loading and unloading of electric energy.
Researchers were able to generate four volts of energy using this water-based battery, which is enough to charge most household electronics. The battery generates the charge without the risk of explosions or fires that the lithium-ion batteries of today pose. The scientists who invented this technology say these batteries are safe even under “severe mechanical abuses.” This new breakthrough was detailed in a paper published this week in the journal Joule.
Why Lithium Batteries Catch Fire
The lithium batteries that are currently used in various devices from cell phones to hoverboards are made to deliver high output with minimal weight. Battery components are designed to be lightweight, which translates to thin partitions between cells and a thin outer covering. The partitions or coating are fairly fragile. So they could be punctured. If the battery is damaged or manufactured with substandard parts, a short occurs and this spark could ignite the highly reactive lithium. Another possibility is that the battery can heat to the point of thermal runway. Here, the heat of the contents exerts pressure on the battery, potentially triggering an explosion.
Lithium Battery Injuries and Lawsuits
Lithium-ion batteries, when they explode and/or catch fire cause not only significant property damage but also terrible injuries from burn injuries, broken bones, lacerations and loss of vision to disfiguring facial injuries. Victims end up requiring costly and painful surgeries and other treatments in order to recover. Some never recover completely.
A number of these fires and explosions are triggered by poorly manufactured lithium batteries that should not have been in the market in the first place. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries as a result of these dangerous and defective batteries, you may be able to seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, rehabilitation, permanent injuries and pain and suffering. An experienced product defect lawyer will be able to advise you regarding your legal rights and options.