You raise a very good point about the Volt fire, ChriSharek. However, I'm going to take a slight issue with what you've said. The truth is that the battery cells had nothing to do with the Volt fire, but the battery pack did. You're correct that the fire occurred after coolant leaked onto a printed circuit board at the top of the battery pack. Let's remember, though, that the coolant is there precisely because this is an energetic chemistry. And when GM fixed the Volt, all of the fixes were done to the battery pack. They beefed up the battery safety cage to resist the kinds of forces seen in the NHTSA tests; they added a sensor to monitor battery coolant levels; they provided a tamper-resistant bracket to prevent overfilling of the battery's coolant reservoir. Perhaps we're both putting too fine a point on it, but all these components are part of the battery, and they wouldn't have been there in the first place if lithium-ion cells didn't have such an edgy chemistry. To say that the fire had "nothing" to do with the lithium-ion battery is incorrect.
Charles, you should know better than to brought the Volt fire up . . . that fire had NOTHING to do with the lithium ion battery. It was the coolant surrounding the battery that leaked on a circuit board that caused the short circuit. It was NOT the Li battery.
It seems the that current lithium-ion technology has to find a safe, reliable way to counteract the energetic and rapid discharge nature of these batteries before wide-spread adoption should truly be deployed.
Is there another battery technology appearing on the horizon soon that is safer than lithium-ion?
The Chevy Volt actually had a problem with a lithium-ion fire, too. In Chevy's case, though, the problem occurred after crash-testing, which is different than this. As to how big of a problem it was, I specifically asked Donald Sadoway of MIT, who is one of the world's foremost battery experts and founder of a grid storage battery company called Ambri, whether the media was making a big deal out of a small story. His full response: "The press is right to call attention to the precarious nature of Li-ion technology. It's one thing to have a fire in a plant. It's another to have a fire in a plane at 40,000 feet. Remember, Li-ion technology is 20 years old now. Shouldn't we have worked out the bugs by now?"
A slew of announcements about new materials and design concepts for transportation have come out of several trade shows focusing on plastics, aircraft interiors, heavy trucks, and automotive engineering. A few more announcements have come independent of any trade shows, maybe just because it's spring.
Samsung's Galaxy line of smartphones used to fare quite well in the repairability department, but last year's flagship S5 model took a tumble, scoring a meh-inducing 5/10. Will the newly redesigned S6 lead us back into star-studded territory, or will we sink further into the depths of a repairability black hole?
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.