New lithium battery to make air travel safer?

In view of the increasing concerns about the fire risks that lithium batteries pose to aircraft passengers, researchers have developed a new technology that promises safer batteries in the future.

IANS| Last Updated: May 21, 2014, 21:30 PM IST

Washington: In view of the increasing concerns about the fire risks that lithium batteries pose to aircraft passengers, researchers have developed a new technology that promises safer batteries in the future.

The new type of lithium ion conductor that the researchers created could be the basis for a whole new generation of solid-state batteries.

It uses rock salt Lithium Borohydride (LiBH4), a well-known agent in organic chemistry laboratories that has been considered for batteries before, but up to now has only worked at high temperatures or pressures.
The researchers doped a cubic lattice of KI molecules with the LiBH4. This allowed them to stabilise the high-pressure form of Lithium borohydride and make a solid solution at normal atmospheric pressure that was stable at room temperature.

In making the new technology, the team made the peculiar discovery that the Li+ ions functioned like pure Li+ ion conductors, even though they were just doping the KI lattices.

This is the reverse of the normal doping technique, in which a small amount of stabilising element would be added to an ionic conductor abundant in Lithium.

"In other words, LiBH4 is a sort of `parasite` but not a host material," said Hitoshi Takamura who led the research at Tohoku University in Japan.
This “parasitic conduction” suggested that it could be broadly applied in the search for new batteries, the researchers said.

"This work suggests the potential of this mechanism in the ongoing search for the perfect material for use in solid state batteries," Takamura added.

The findings appeared in the journal APL Materials.