We could get safer, thinner batteries made with layers of Kevlar

There’s a lot of work being done with batteries at the moment, particularly with making them last a lot longer. But there are other factors that matter: Safety and, as any Apple exec will likely tell you, thickness. The answer to both of those could lie with Kevlar.

A team at the University of Michigan has found a way to make lithium-ion batteries slimmer and safer, and it’s all thanks to Kevlar. Yes the same Kevlar used in bulletproof vests.

The team developed a Kevlar-based nano-membrane that insulates the electrodes within the battery, while still allowing lithium ions to pass through and form a circuit. Theoretically these layers will reduce the chance of the battery short circuiting, as well as allowing more energy to be stored within it.

That means that you could have smaller, thinner batteries that don’t require sacrificing the capacity. This would be ideal for smaller devices like smartwatches, or for companies like Apple where creating the thinnest device possible is one of its top priorities.

It also means the chance of them randomly bursting into flames is significantly less than it is now. That’s always rather handy.

The best news is that the researchers actually have a plan to mass produce these new batteries, meaning, unlike a lot of advances in battery research, we could see these new batteries in our gadgets in the near future. They’ve founded their own company called Elegus, and the aim is to have the batteries in mass production by the end of 2016.

While that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be in our phones in 18 months time, don’t be surprised if they start popping up in late 2017/early 2018.

Featured image: ‘iPhone battery, Li-ion polymer battery’ by Yoshifusa via Wikimedia Commons

Tom Pritchard