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Energy

Kevlar-reinforced lithium-ion batteries shouldn't catch fire

While lithium-ion batteries may outperform their older, lower-tech counterparts, they do have one drawback – occasionally, they catch fire. This can happen when fern-like metal structures known as dendrites form between the battery's two electrodes, causing a short circuit. Now, however, researchers at the University of Michigan have used Kevlar nanofibers to create a barrier between the electrodes, which is impervious to those nasty dendrites. Read More

Good Thinking

Fire Blanket uses spaceship tech to protect forest-firefighters

Last June, a wildfire near Yarnell, Arizona overtook and killed 19 firefighters – even though they had set up fireproof shelters. This inspired Phoenix-based SunSeeker Enterprises to develop a shelter that's better able to withstand the high heat of forest fires. Utilizing a material licensed from NASA to protect the Space Shuttle on re-entry, the Fire Blanket is the result. Read More

Electronics

"Smart" lithium-ion battery would warn users if it is going to ignite

There have been numerous cases of lithium-ion batteries catching fire in everything from mobile phones and laptops to cars and airplanes. While the odds of this occurring are low, the fact that hundreds of millions of lithium-ion batteries are produced and sold every year means the risk is still very real. Researchers at Stanford University have now developed a "smart" lithium-ion battery that would provide users with a warning if it is overheating and likely to burst into flames.Read More

Electronics

Pelty Bluetooth speaker powered by ... fire

Chatting happily over a sumptuous dinner on the balcony, you bask in the warm summer breeze that blows gently past, sipping your wine and enjoying the company of a few special friends. The day is nearing dusk, so you reach over to light a candle and, as you do, soft music magically wafts from the candle holder, adding to the elegant mood. Your friends are impressed, and the evening is a hit. But where did that music come from? It came from Pelty, a Bluetooth-enabled, candle-powered speaker with an inbuilt thermoelectric converter that lets you play music streamed from your phone without the need for batteries or cables.Read More

Good Thinking

Fighting fire with explosives

Building on a technique commonly used to extinguish oil well fires, Dr Graham Doig from the University of New South Wales' School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering is examining whether explosives could be used to fight out-of-control forest and bushfires by blasting the flames out of treetops, slowing the fire and making it easier to fight on the ground.Read More

Electronics

New electrolyte could mean an end to spontaneously combusting lithium batteries

Last year, lithium-ion battery fires became a hot topic, pardon the inescapable pun, with both a Tesla automobile and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner succumbing to fires. In cross-disciplinary research at the University of North Carolina (UNC), a compound being studied to prevent marine life from sticking to ships may also be the solvent (and the solution) to keep lithium ion batteries from catching alight when they overheat. Read More

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