Silatonix Looks to Make “Exploding Phones” a Thing of the Past

It’s been a no good, very bad month for Samsung: The Korean electronics company has been forced to discontinue its hotly anticipated line of Galaxy Note 7 smartphones after widespread battery failures caused the devices to catch fire.

One thing that can happen is that a thin, paperlike barrier inside of the battery that keeps the positive and negative electrodes from touching may get punctured. The other way a battery can fail is if a buildup of carbon dioxide occurs due to high internal temperatures. That can cause the battery to swell up within its hermetically sealed casing.

Hamers said Silatronix had initially been pitching an electrolyte to manufacturers that was rich enough in the organosilicons that it rendered a lithium battery totally inflammable. However, companies weren’t sold on the product, since it necessitated a trade-off in terms of battery life.

The product that Silatronix is now pushing is a compromise of sorts: It doesn’t totally eliminate the flammability risk, but it does mitigate it. Plus, there’s an upside that’s grabbed the attention of battery manufacturers.

“There’s actually an increase in performance — you can have higher temperatures, but no risk of a gassing problem,” said Hamers.

It’s a class of compounds, he said, that’s “unlike anything that anyone has used before.”

Hamers said that Silatronix is in the process of testing its product with all of the major battery manufacturers in the world right now. The dragon to slay after that, he said, will be introducing the safer lithium ion batteries to the world on a major scale, in some sort of major consumer product.