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Tiny Diamonds Can Prevent Short-Circuits and Fires in Mobile Phone Batteries: Study

Mixing nanodiamonds into the electrolyte solution of a lithium ion battery slows dendrite formation to nil through 100 charge-discharge cycles

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Tiny diamonds prevent fires in phone batteries
Tiny diamonds prevent fires in phone batteries. Pixabay
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  • The researchers described a process by which tiny diamonds curtail the electrochemical deposition called plating
  • We anticipate the first use of our proposed technology will be in less critical applications
  • Battery buildups called dendrites  are one of the main causes of lithium battery malfunction

USA, August 28, 2017: Researchers have found that tiny diamonds (diamond particles 10,000 times smaller than the diameter of a hair) can prevent short-circuits and fires in lithium batteries widely used in various mobile devices from smartphones to laptops.

The new process that uses tiny diamonds can turn electrolyte solution – a key component of most batteries into a safeguard against the chemical process that leads to battery-related disasters.

In the study, published in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers described a process by which tiny diamonds curtail the electrochemical deposition, called plating, that can lead to hazardous short-circuiting of lithium ion batteries.

“We anticipate the first use of our proposed technology will be in less critical applications, not in cell phones or car batteries,” said Yury Gogotsi, Professor at Drexel University Philadelphia Pennsylvania, US.

“To ensure safety, additives to electrolytes, such as nano diamonds, need to be combined with other precautions, such as using non-flammable electrolytes, safer electrode materials and stronger separators,” Gogotsi added.

Also Read: Lithium Batteries can be charged faster in the near Future: Scientists

As batteries are used and charged, the electrochemical reaction results in the movement of ions between the two electrodes of a battery, which is the essence of an electrical current.

Over time, this re-positioning of ions can create tendril-like buildups almost like stalactites forming inside a cave.

These battery buildups, called dendrites, are one of the main causes of lithium battery malfunction.

As dendrites form inside the battery over time, they can reach the point where they push through the separator, a porous polymer film that prevents the positively charged part of a battery from touching the negatively charged part.

When the separator is breached, a short-circuit can occur, which can also lead to a fire since the electrolyte solution in most lithium-ion batteries is highly flammable.

To avoid dendrite formation and minimize the probability of fire, current battery designs include one electrode made of graphite filled with lithium instead of pure lithium.

The use of graphite as the host for lithium prevents the formation of dendrites. But lithium intercalated graphite also stores about 10 times less energy than pure lithium.

The new study showed that mixing nano diamonds into the electrolyte solution of a lithium ion battery slows dendrite formation to nil through 100 charge-discharge cycles.

The finding means that a great increase in energy storage is possible because dendrite formation can be eliminated in pure lithium electrodes.

The discovery is just the beginning of a process that could eventually see electrolyte additives, like nano diamonds, widely used to produce safe lithium batteries with a high energy density, Gogotsi noted. (IANS)

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Intel Becomes Savior Of Exploited Workers

In recent years modern slavery has increasingly come under the global spotlight

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Intel CEO Brian Krzanich delivers a keynote speech at CES International, Jan. 8, 2018, in Las Vegas.
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich delivers a keynote speech at CES International, Jan. 8, 2018, in Las Vegas. VOA

Intel topped a list issued on Monday ranking how well technology companies combat the risk of forced labor in their supply chains, overtaking HP and Apple.

Most of the top 40 global technology companies assessed in the study by KnowTheChain, an online resource for business, had made progress since the last report was published in 2016. But the study found there was still room for improvement.

“The sector needs to advance their efforts further down the supply chain in order to truly protect vulnerable workers,” said Kilian Moote, project director of KnowTheChain, in a statement.

Intel, HP and Apple scored the highest on the list, which looked at factors including purchasing practices, monitoring and auditing processes. China-based BOE Technology Group and Taiwan’s Largan Precision came bottom.

Workers who make the components used by technology companies are often migrants vulnerable to exploitative working conditions, the report said.

About 25 million people globally were estimated to be trapped in forced labor in 2016, according to the International Labor Organization and rights group Walk Free Foundation.

Laborers in technology companies’ supply chains are sometimes charged high recruitment fees to get jobs, trapped in debt servitude, or deprived of their passports or other documents, the report said.

It highlighted a failure to give workers a voice through grievance mechanisms and tackle exploitative recruiting practices as the main areas of concern across the sector.

In recent years modern slavery has increasingly come under the global spotlight, putting ever greater regulatory and consumer pressure on firms to ensure their supply chains are free of forced labor, child labor and other forms of slavery.

From cosmetics and clothes to shrimp and smartphones, supply chains are often complex with multiple layers across various countries — whether in sourcing the raw materials or creating the final product — making it hard to identify exploitation.

Overall, large technology companies fared better than smaller ones, suggesting a strong link between size and capacity to take action, the report said. Amazon, which ranked 20th, was a notable exception, it said.

“Top-ranking brands … are listening to workers in their supply chains and weeding out unscrupulous recruitment processes,” Phil Bloomer, head of the Business & Human Rights Resource Center, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

intel technology
intel technology, pixabay

A spokesman for Amazon said the report drew from old and incomplete information and failed to take into account recently launched anti-slavery commitments and initiatives.

HP said it regularly assessed its supply chain to identify and address any concerns and risks of exploitation.

“We strive to ensure that workers in our supply chain have fair treatment, safe working conditions, and freely chosen employment,” said Annukka Dickens, HP’s director for human rights and supply chain responsibility.

Also read: Another Security flaw is Revealed By Intel in its Chips

Intel, Apple, BOE Technology and Largan Precision did not immediately respond to requests for comment. (VOA)