Mains Article

Li-ion battery that ‘won’t catch fire’ [Mains Articles]

Li-ion batteries are already a constant presence in our daily lives, from our phones to our cars, and continuing to improve their safety is paramount to further advancing energy storage technology.
By IT's Mains Articles Team
October 28, 2019


  • Why it was in News?
  • How the new Lithium ion battery works?
  • Significance
  • IT’s Input
  • Conclusion

Li-ion battery that ‘won’t catch fire’

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Why it was in News?

  • Lithium-ion batteries are vulnerable to fire and explosion, which often happens without warning as they are built with flammable and combustible materials.
  • Recently, the Johns Hopkins University has developed a Lithium-ion battery that will not catch fire.

How the new Lithium ion battery works?

  • The new Lithium ion battery works on new class of ‘water-in-salt’ (WiS) and ‘water-in-bisalt’ electrolytes (WiBS) respectively.
  • This new class of electrolytes, when incorporated in a polymer matrix, reduces water activity and elevates the battery’s energy capabilities and life cycle.
  • It is nonflammable, non-toxic, and is free of highly reactive solvents present in current Li-ion batteries.
  • It also not only operates under extreme conditions such as cutting, submersion but also does not catch fire.
  • This water-based flexible polymer Li-ion batteries can be built and operated in open air.


  • Li-ion batteries have emerged as the energy storage vehicle of choice for portable electronics, electric vehicles, and grid storage. These safety advancements mark a significant step forward in transforming the way Li-ion batteries are manufactured and used in electronic devices.

IT’s Input

What is Li-Ion battery?

is Li-Ion battery

  • Lithium-ion battery or Li-ion battery is type of rechargeable battery that contains several cells.
  • Each cell consists of cathode, anode and electrolyte, a separator between electrodes and current collectors.
  • In it, lithium ions move from negative electrode to positive electrode during discharge and back when charging.

How does it work?

Li-Ion battery 1

  • During charging, lithium ions (yellow circles) flow from the positive electrode (red) to the negative electrode (blue) through the electrolyte (gray).
  • Electrons also flow from the positive electrode to the negative electrode, but take the longer path around the outer circuit. The electrons and ions combine at the negative electrode and deposit lithium there.

Li-Ion battery 2

  • When no more ions will flow, the battery is fully charged and ready to use.

Li-Ion battery 3

  • During discharging, the ions flow back through the electrolyte from the negative electrode to the positive electrode.
  • Electrons flow from the negative electrode to the positive electrode through the outer circuit, powering your laptop. When the ions and electrons combine at the positive electrode, lithium is deposited there.

Li-Ion battery 4

  • When all the ions have moved back, the battery is fully discharged and needs charging up again

Advantages of Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery

Advantages of Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery

  • The lithium-ion battery is light weighted and is one-third the weight of lead acid batteries.
  • It is nearly 100% efficient in both charging and discharging as compared to lead battery which has 70% efficiency.
  • It completely discharges i.e. 100% as compared to 80% for lead acid.
  • The rechargeable lithium-ion battery has life cycle of 5000 times or more compared to just 400-500 cycles in lead acid.
  • It also maintains constant voltage throughout the entire discharge cycle whereas voltage in lead acid battery drops consistently throughout its discharge cycle.
  • It is much cleaner technology and is safer for environment as it does not have environmental impact as lead acid battery.
  • Li-ion batteries find wide application in electronic gadgets, telecommunication and industrial applications as well as in aerospace.

Limitations of Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery

  • It is fragile and requires a protection circuit to maintain safe operation.
  • Aging is a concern with most lithium-ion batteries.
  • Some capacity deterioration is noticeable after one year, whether the battery is in use or not.
  • Expensive to manufacture – about 40 percent higher in cost than nickel-cadmium.
  • Not fully mature – metals and chemicals are changing on a continuing basis.

Lithium-ion cell technology in India

  • The Lithium-ion cell technology has been developed by Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC).
  • After the successful deployment of indigenous lithium-ion batteries in various missions of ISRO, the VSSC will now transfer the technology to the industries to establish production facilities for producing lithium-ion cells to cover the entire spectrum of power storage requirements of the country.
  • The progress in Li-ion battery technology research has made it the favourite power source for electric and hybrid electric vehicles owing to its high voltage, high energy density, long life cycle and high storage characteristics.


  • Ever since Lithium-ion batteries were first introduced commercially in 1991, there have been extensive improvements and countless research to enhance the performance of these batteries.
  • Although this technology is still rather underexploited in the field of power supply systems, yet it has massive global potential in terms of reductions in carbon emissions and energy sustainability.


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