Though lithium-ion batteries seem to be inherently safe (at least according to limited statistics available in automotive applications), improved safety is always on our list of top priorities.
That's why a safety sensor system, designed and developed by TIAX, intrigues us. The system, which simply detects short circuits within a lithium-ion cell, could advance safety of electric vehicles.
As Dr. Brain Barnett, vice-president of TIAX explains:
"Safety incidents in lithium-ion batteries, while infrequent, can be hazardous for consumers and can result in expensive recalls. The primary cause of these safety incidents is short circuits inside cells, which are not present at the point of manufacture and which, to date, have been impossible to detect in the field."
"The use of our sensor system provides early warning of developing hazardous conditions due to internal shorts thus enabling a range of appropriate interventions."
TIAX claims its safety sensing system preempts short circuits, but it's unclear how this is accomplished. The TIAX setup is claimed to be compatible with all lithium-ion battery chemistries and requires no modification to individual cells, which means that it's easy to incorporate into existing designs.
Though developed for safety purposes, TIAX believes its system could extend the life of lithium-ion batteries. And that's a plus that's worthy of recognition, too.