It's hardly the only one working on making lithium-ion batteries a little less likely
to blow up in your face, but the prolific folks at Fraunhofer Institute seem to think that they've come up with a solid contender for your future laptop or cellphone, and they're now set to take the wraps off it at the Hannover Messe conference later this month. The key to their solution, it seems, is the use of a non-flammable polymer electrolyte instead of the liquid electrolyte now commonly used in lithium-ion batteries. While that switch cuts down on the explosiveness, it also introduced a fair number of challenges, not the least of which is the fact that polymer becomes less conductive as it gets more solid. Fraunhofer's apparently made some significant progress on that front, however, and while they're still not completely satisfied with the conductivity, they say the batteries could be ready for commercial use in three to five years. They also, not surprisingly, see no end to the uses for 'em, saying that they could not only wind up in laptops and cellphones, but power tools, lawnmowers, and potentially even cars.
[Thanks, Mademoiselle Y]