South Korea develops new technology for making safe rechargeable lithium batteries

The Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute engineers have come up with the technology for a new “separator” that is resistant to external heat and impact. High temperatures and weakness to impact have been cited for causing fires and explosions in battery cells in the past. KAERI said the new separator, made by mixing polyethylene, nano-alumina and flourine-based resin and subjecting this compound to radiation, has effectively overcome weaknesses of existing batteries. Tests showed that the new separator maintains its ability to act as an electric insulator even if subject to heat of 150 degrees Celsius and considerable outside impact.

Normal polyethylene separators on the whole lost their ability to act as insulators if subject to such conditions. South Korea uses 30 percent of all lithium batteries made in the world, with its domestic market expected to top 350 billion won (US$303 million) in 2010. The global market could reach 1 trillion won next year.