Why Lithium-ion Batteries Catch Fire

Why have some of Samsung’s phones been catching fire? Check
out the infographic below to find out.

Source: Compound Interest 

So, who invented the lithium battery? 

Lithium batteries were
proposed by M Stanley Whittingham, now at Binghamton University, while working
for Exxon in the 1970s. Whittingham used titanium(IV) sulfide and lithium metal
as the electrodes. However, this rechargeable lithium battery could never be
made practical. Titanium disulfide was a poor choice, since it has to be
synthesized under completely sealed conditions. This is extremely expensive
(it cost $1000 per kilo for titanium disulfide raw material in the 1970s).

When exposed to air, titanium disulfide reacts to form
hydrogen sulfide compounds, which have an unpleasant odour. For this, and other
reasons, Exxon discontinued development of Whittingham’s lithium-titanium
disulfide battery. Batteries with metallic lithium electrodes presented safety issues,
as lithium is a highly reactive element; it burns in normal atmospheric
conditions because of the presence of water and oxygen. As a result, research
moved to develop batteries where, instead of metallic lithium, only lithium
compounds are present, being capable of accepting and releasing lithium ions.

Reversible intercalation in graphite and intercalation into
cathodic oxides was discovered in the 1970s by J. O. Besenhard at TU Munich.
Besenhard proposed its application in lithium cells. Electrolyte decomposition
and solvent co-intercalation into graphite were severe early drawbacks for
battery life.

There were two main trends in the research and development
of electrode materials for lithium ion rechargeable batteries. One was the
approach from the field of electrochemistry centering on graphite intercalation
compounds, and the other was the approach from the field of new
nano-carbonaceous materials.

History described above is based on the former stand point.
On the other hand, in the recent interview article concerning the first stage
of scientific research activity directly related to the LIB developments, it is
stated that looking at the major streams in research development, the
negative-electrode of today’s lithium ion rechargeable battery has its origins
in PAS (polyacenic semiconductive material) discovered by Professor Tokio
Yamabe and later Shjzukuni Yata at the beginning of 1980’s. The seed of this
technology, furthermore, was the discovery of conductive polymers by Professor
Hideki Shirakawa and his group, and it could also be seen as having started
from the polyacetylene lithium ion battery developed by MacDiarmid and Heeger
et al.

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Posted on November 22, 2016, in Useful Information. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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