LG Chem batteries have led to many recalls due to risks of fire in the last few years
The company says a new type of plastic product could delay thermal runaways for over 10 minutes at 1,000 ˚C
This will give occupants more time to exit the vehicle and allow firefighters to extinguish the flames more easily
LG Chem has been in the spotlight recently when the NHTSA announced an investigation into several cases of fire caused by one of its batteries.
The most publicised case of this has been the Chevrolet Bolt recall, but Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Stellantis and Volkswagen have all had to recall some of their electric vehicles due to a risk of fire in their LG-supplied battery.
Despite this, EVs are still less likely to catch fire than vehicles powered by gasoline, so the risk is not as high as it can seem.
The problem however, is that when they do catch fire, lithium-ion batteries like the ones used in electric vehicles create a very intense heat accompanied with toxic vapors and they are very difficult to extinguish, sometimes relighting on their own several hours after having appeared to be out.
In order to help solve this problem, and salvage its reputation, LG Chem is working on a new plastic type that could be used in large batteries in order to limit the risk of thermal runaway and slow down the progression of a fire.
This new compound has shown its ability to contain the flames for over 10 minutes at temperatures around 1,000 ˚C, which makes it appropriate to use as a flame barrier around the battery.
This product is also reportedly very stable at high temperatures, meaning that it is capable of keeping its shape even under very high thermal loads and thus maintaining the structural integrity of the battery.
The use of this new plastic will give more time for vehicle occupants to exit the burning car and it will allow firefighters to more easily control the blaze and put out the flames, which will limit the risk of injuries and material damage.
The company is serious about this product since it is in the process of acquiring patents for it in the United States, Europe and South Korea ahead of the start of production, which is planned as soon as next year.