• May 20th 2010 at 6:02PM
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Safety is a common concern as the automotive industry moves towards electric vehicles. In particular, focusing on the potential risks involved with li-ion battery technology is crucial as automakers move away from NiMH packs and towards li-ion storage.
Fire is a recurring problem with li-ion batteries, and we've all heard the horror stories of laptop batteries overheating and leading to fires. Naturally, this is a concern for vehicles as well.

Up until now, little was known about what caused these fires, but researchers over at Cambridge University think they have an answer, but it's not exactly one that we want to hear.

The researchers have identified the growth of metal fibers – called dendrites – within li-ion batteries. As they grow, these fibers can cause short circuits within the battery, in turn leading to overheating and fires.

What causes the dendrites to grow? When batteries are charged at a fast rate. This could certainly be a problem moving forward as nobody wants to hear about the need to trickle charge a battery to eliminate fires, but the researchers have another solution in the works. They suggest that determining why dendrites form will lead to new technologies that fix the problem, yet still allow fast-charging to be used. Though a fix could increase the cost of li-ion technology, it will also lead to a safer driving experience with less risk of an electric vehicle going up in flames. Hat tip to Jon!

[Source: BBC]

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