Virginia Tech researchers may have solution to phone battery issues

Published: Oct. 11, 2016 at 6:42 PM EDT
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Samsung announced Tuesday the company was stopping production of its Galaxy Note 7 following issues with the batteries catching fire.

Researchers at Virginia Tech said they may have a solution to the problems with the Lithium ion batteries.

Louis Madsen has been studying batteries for the last five years.

He explained the issue the phones have had saying, "Lithium has to transport across this battery and it actually moves through a liquid that's a flammable solvent. And if it gets too hot then it can boil, so some people may have seen batteries actually inflate if you overcharge them, I've seen a few of these. And then in the worst case, they can smoke or be heated up and start on fire."

That's exactly what's been happening to people all over the country.

Madsen said Samsung pushed their batteries too far to have too much energy, that's why it's happening to their new phones.

But he has a good tip to protect cell phone users.

"After it's been charging for a half an hour go over and touch it and see if it's really hot and unplug it and plug it in again," he said.

However, this issue can happen as the battery is decharging, like if you're using it or if it's just sitting in your pocket.

So Madsen said he has a product that would replace the liquid solvent in the battery.

He explained "What we're working on is a gel, actually, so more like a solid but still liquid inside that conducts lithium or transports lithium very fast and is not flammable."

His material may be a bit more expensive, but it can be heated to over five hundred degrees without issues.

That's compared to the current solvent that can't exceed one hundred and twenty degrees without possible problems.>>

Madsen said he and his team are talking with companies around the world right now. There's a lot that goes into proving a product works before it can be used by these businesses.

But assuming companies do buy in this gel could be in lithium batteries within the next six months to a year.

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