This week’s top 5 interesting engineering technology news articles looks at the 64th Annual Technology and Engineering Emmy Awards, the trouble with lithium-ion batteries and 8 ways electric engineering is changing medicine, to name a few!
Battery makers are concerned about the potential for fires in the lithium ion batteries used in the latest electric and hybrid vehicles. Two principle mechanisms have been identified that can lead to a cascading reaction known as thermal runaway which in turn can cause battery fires. The first is a short in a cell that may be caused by a crash impact or by an impurity. The second is a blockage or other malfunction in the cooling system that cools the cells by running coolant through microchannels in the battery. There are hundreds of different variables involved in battery design that interact in complex ways that can affect the potential for thermal runaway as well as having an important effect on the efficiency of the battery. Cell and pack makers perform a considerable amount of testing during the development process to investigate the impact of these variables but there is never enough time to come anywhere close to investigating the complete design space. Physical testing is also quite limited in its ability to evaluate battery performance under extreme conditions such as vehicle crashes. Continue reading