We have all have heard the horrifying news stories about cell phones exploding while charging or abruptly exploding while in pocket or in use. Similar stories have come to light more frequently about electronic cigarettes bursting while in use, causing vital injuries to a person using these devices. Many other consumer electronics are using Lithium-ion batteries to power their equipment such as power tools, handheld devices, and motor vehicles.
Lithium-ion batteries are made of organic liquid inside of them, which is flammable if the battery or device becomes too hot. This threat has become so serious that the United States Navy has completely banned e-cigs on their ships and submarines. Also, airlines do not allow loose lithium batteries on their planes unless inside the equipment and only up to 100 watt hours per battery.
Zinc battery technology has risen in popularity due to being safer then Lithium-ion batteries because is made of a safer water-based electrolyte which is not flammable and uses Zinc as one of the electrolyte materials. Zinc battery technology can also be a low-cost alternative being that it is easy to procure, are mined in friendly countries and Zinc can be found pretty much everywhere. It can also produce the same energy distribution or surpass that of a Lithium-ion battery. The drawback of using Zinc batteries is that it doesn’t take re-charge very kindly, the Zinc while recharging can be prone to forming dendrites (tiny problematic spikes) that can puncture its containment and cause a short-circuit.
Debra Rolison a chemist at the Naval Research laboratory in Washington Dc., is currently working on a new design that would make a 3D zinc sponge electrolyte blend of water and oil-like organic compounds creating a gray slurry that could be poured into a mold of choice. With the dried and heated material it would solidify, into a uniform, porous Zinc matrix preventing framework dendrites form forming. The US Naval research Lab is partnering with a company called EnZinc to put rechargeable batteries with their zinc anode into vehicles like e-bikes.
I welcome any technology that can help us keep us safer without having to worry about our devices going kablooey while in use. And just to clarify I’m not a NSYNC fan but my “fiancé” loves them.