If anyone knows of the Fraunhofer Institute at all, it's usually for their role in creating the MPEG-1 Layer 3 digital audio format. That would be the bane of the music industry more commonly referred to as MP3. The researchers at Fraunhofer work in lots of different areas, including battery technology. With thermal runaway being the primary safety concern with lithium ion batteries, Fraunhofer has been looking at the causes and possible solutions. Batteries have a liquid electrolyte between the electrodes through which the electrons have to pass. Unfortunately this liquid is generally highly flammable and when it overheats it can burst into flames. The search for a non-flammable electrolyte has led Fraunhofer to develop a polymer electrolyte which is still conductive but won't burn. The new material could be ready for commercial use in consumer electronics applications in three to five years and eventually maybe even automotive applications.
[Source: Fraunhofer, via Engadget]

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