Panasonic has developed a lithium-ion battery it claims won't overheat even if a short circuit occurs.
The new battery includes a heat-resistive insulator inside the battery cell, next to an existing separator that insulates the anode and cathode. If that separator is punctured a short circuit occurs that typically causes the battery to overheat and in some circumstances catch fire. But Panasonic said its insulator layer will ensure no overheating will occur.
The design is a response to consumers' concern about the safety of lithium-ion batteries following a number of overheating incidents and several huge battery recalls this year.
A remarkable 9.6million Lithium-ion cells made by Sony were recalled by some of the largest laptop companies this year after a number of batteries overheated and caught fire. Sony blamed the problem on metallic particles that got inside the battery during production.
And earlier this month, Japanese mobile company NTT DoCoMo and handset-maker Mitsubishi recalled 1.3 million cell-phone batteries made by Sanyo saying they could also overheat and catch fire.
Panasonic's new batteries are made by another company in the Matsushita group, Matsushita Battery Industrial, and are ready for mass production, said Akira Kadota, a spokesman for Panasonic in Tokyo. The batteries aren't available directly to end users but are sold in bulk to electronics product manufacturers, so Panasonic wouldn't reveal their price. Kadota said they could be more expensive than current cells but could also work out cheaper if large orders are placed.