Researchers develop semi-solid batteries with improved safety against fire and explosion

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : October 13, 2022, 12:49 Updated : October 13, 2022, 15:43

[Courtesy of Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute]

SEOUL -- Researchers have developed manufacturing technology for semi-solid batteries with improved safety against fire and explosion that showed the same performance as existing batteries using electronic wires. Conventional batteries contain liquid electrolytes, but flammable liquid electrolytes can leak out, causing significant damage in case of fire.  
Electron beams cause chemical reactions at room temperature. Due to their high penetrating power, they can reach the inside of batteries. Using such characteristics, a research team led by Jung Chan-hee, a solid electrolyte researcher at the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI), developed an electron beam-sensitive reactant that changes liquid into a semi-solid form when irradiated with electron beams.
The developed reactant was created by combining two types of monomers -- vinylene carbonate and co-cyanoethyl acrylate -- with a cross-linking agent in a conventional liquid electrolyte. A liquid electron-sensitive reactant is filled in the space between cathodes, supporters, and anodes. When irradiated with 10 maximal extractable value (MeV) electron beams, the liquid reactant into a gel-like semi-solid electrolyte.
As a result of analyzing the cross-section and element distribution of semi-solid batteries, the same level of performance as that of liquid electrolyte batteries was confirmed. KAERI researchers secured additional safety as semi-solid electrolytes are evenly formed inside the battery, which has excellent performance and does not leak out in the form of a gel.
When researchers compared the change in discharge capacity with the conventional battery through a long-term stability evaluation test, it was similar at room temperature, and the decrease in discharge capacity was less at a high temperature of 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit).
"This achievement is significant in that it proposed a new methodology capable of improving commercial performance and securing mass production by adding an electron beam irradiation process to the current battery manufacturing process," Jung said in a statement on October 13. KAERI said the technology is advantageous for commercialization because electron beam irradiation can be added within a few minutes to the conventional process of manufacturing lithium batteries.
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