Science Friday, February 22, 2017
Lithium-ion batteries have been the culprits behind a string of combusting devices. They’ve caused hoverboard fires, Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone explosions, and, most recently, a major recall of HP laptops. What makes these batteries so volatile is a highly flammable liquid called a liquid electrolyte.
“You can think of it as kerosene—like you’re walking around with kerosene in your smartphone, in your purse, and in your pocket,” says Mike Zimmerman, a materials science professor at Tufts University, and founder and CEO of the battery company, Ionic Materials.