As electric vehicles continue to gain popularity and replace traditional gas-powered cars, the benefits — mainly the fact that they do not produce planet-warming tailpipe pollution — are clear.
But some drawbacks have also begun to come into focus, and one of those is battery fires.
While EV fires actually occur much less frequently than fires in gas-powered cars, according to Autoweek, when they do occur, they are much more dangerous. While gas burns out quickly, lithium-ion batteries are the opposite, burning incredibly hot for long durations and requiring tens of thousands of gallons of water to be extinguished.
Luckily, researchers at the University of Central Florida’s NanoScience Technology Center may have found a fix by developing a new type of battery that uses saltwater instead of flammable organic solvents.
“During Hurricane Ian, a lot of electric cars caught fire after they were soaked in floodwater,” Associate Professor Yang Yang, the project’s lead researcher, wrote in Nature Communications, where the study was published. “That is because the saltwater corrodes the battery and causes a short circuit, which ignites the flammable solvents and other components. Our battery uses saltwater as an electrolyte, eliminating the highly volatile solvents.”
Another benefit to aqueous batteries is that they can charge much more quickly than traditional lithium-ion batteries. The UCF team claims they charge in a mere three minutes, as opposed to regular batteries, which take hours.
It also goes without saying that saltwater, unlike many other materials used in the manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries, is a plentiful, renewable resource.
The aqueous battery could change more than just the electric car industry for the better. E-bikes have also been plagued with concerns of battery fires, which has led some places to ban them from being parked or stored in or near the building.
A less dangerous type of battery could be a boon to anyone looking to utilize environmentally sustainable transportation options.
Join our free newsletter for weekly updates on the coolest innovations improving our lives and saving our planet.