Washington, Feb 19 : In what might be a breakthrough in the next generation of electric and hybrid cars, scientists have developed new and improved polymer membranes that may in turn develop bigger, safer, and more powerful lithium ion batteries.
Already polymer membranes are an essential element of lithium ion batteries that power iPods, laptop computers, and other portable electronic devices.
According to an article by C and EN Senior Editor Alexander H. Tullo, such porous, hair-thin separators control the flow of electrons through the battery.
He said that the failure of these membranes can result in overheating and even fires. And this was the reason that recently prompted the widespread recall of millions of lithium ion batteries.
Tullo indicated for an effective use of these lithium ion batteries, they need to be bigger, safer, and more powerful. And for that purpose, improved polymer separators are required.
To tackle this challenge, battery manufacturers are developing new polymer separators with greater porosity for improved power flow and stronger insulation materials for improved safety.
According to the article, at least one manufacturer is already using a new type of polymer separator in a new line of electric vehicles, while other advanced polymers are making their way through the development pipeline.
"The reality of driving to work under electric power may only be a hair away," said Tullo.
The article is published in the recent issue of Chemical and Engineering News, ACS' weekly newsmagazine.