Vaping has a battery problem. Actually, we have several battery problems — the biggest being that we can’t get anyone to understand that the problem isn’t unique to vaping.

But set that aside for a moment, and let’s focus on the problem of lithium-ion batteries sometimes having thermal events that cause fires. A battery reaches a critical internal temperature and then heats rapidly until it bursts into flame, and sometimes even explodes.

A new study proposes a new smart tech that could prevent fires caused by lithium-ion batteries in thermal runaway. This might help prevent risks for users of vaping devices — and cell phones, laptops, or any other product that uses these high-energy batteries.

A group of Stanford University scientists developed a barrier between the positive and negative sections of the battery that contains a flame retardant. When the battery reaches a 160 degrees Celsius, the barrier melts and releases the retardant (triphenyl phosphate — TPP) into the flammable chemical mix of the battery, which instantly douses the flames.

The technique has been tested in a coin-type cell. Before it could be used commercially, further testing on larger cells is needed. The study doesn’t indicate if it would be effective in the case of a dead short, as when someone carries an uncovered battery in a pocket full of change and contact is made between the positive and negative terminals.

The study is in the journal Science Advances, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Until more is known and further development is put into larger cells using this tech, continue practicing battery safety. Users must take responsibility for keeping themselves safe.

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