Researchers in Singapore have tested an “anti-short layer” in over 50 batteries and no short circuit was detected
Short circuits are caused by dendrites forming on lithium-ion batteries that inadvertently connect cathodes and anodes
This solution would increase the manufacturing costs of battery packs by about 5%
Amid the talks about the safety of electric vehicles brought about by the Chevrolet Bolt recall, researchers in Singapore might have found a viable solution to prevent most battery fires in electric vehicles.
This invention is called an “anti-short layer” because it is a layer applied to the separator inside the cells that prevents dendrites from completing a circuit between the cathodes and the anodes, which causes a short circuit.
Dendrites are metallic microstructures that form in the battery cells due to a manufacturing defect or due to operation in difficult conditions, such as extreme cold. When these dendrites grow, they can bridge contacts between anodes and cathodes, which often results in a fire.
This layer would not stop the dendrites from forming, but it would direct them in a way that is safe for the battery.
The researchers say that this “anti-short layer” is made of a material commonly used in battery production, but could increase costs related to manufacturing by about 5%, which could be too much for this solution to be implemented by automakers.
Other measures intended to reduce the risk of combustion of lithium-ion batteries that have been developed include pyrotechnic fuses that can cut power to the pack in a fraction of a second in the case of an incident, as well as less flammable battery chemistries.
Even if they get talked about a lot, electric vehicle going up in flames due to a faulty battery are very rare, much rarer in fact than gasoline powered vehicle fires.