Queens Award for Li-ion Bags

Posted 24th April 2018 by Dave Cross
The Queen’s Award for Innovation 2018 has been given to a company that has produced a product to combat the problems of lithium-ion (li-ion) batteries going in thermal runaway while on flights. While some like to point the finger at vape products, the mile-high fire problem covers laptop computers, mobile phones, tablets and anything else powered by a li-ion cell.

Environmental Defence Systems (EDS) Limited have come to the rescue of flight crews who hate things going bang when in the air. The AvSax containment bag has been engineered to withstand the force of an exploding device – using technology developed from their BlastSax, a military product designed to reduce the fragmentation impact from improvised explosive devices.

The AvSax has been used 27 times during 2017 to deal with li-ion thermal runaway emergencies. The company estimates that there can be anything up to 500 li-ion cells on board every flight, and that the cost of highly publicized forced landings can begin at US$400,000.

Managing director Richard Bailey said: “The danger is that with so many poor quality and fake batteries around there is no doubt that incidents will continue to happen. The fact that AvSax have been deployed so many times shows there is a real need for this product. Any fire on board a plane is a frightening prospect but the AvSax has proved itself in action time and time again.”

The bag contains a gelling polymer that forms a tight seal when water is added. Cabin crew pour in 2 litres of cold water and insert the suspect device into the AvSax bag. The polymer gel expands to totally surround the device, instantly cooling it down. They can then minimise further risk by adding more water.

Potential li-ion advances may come from the strides being made in the motor vehicle industry. Improved solar charging technology could benefit vapers as it spins off from the work being carried out at Cake – a Swedish motorbike company dedicated to a green future.

As they are developing a bike for off-road, it is imperative that the rider can be self-sufficient in remote areas away from recharging stations. The company are looking at three solutions and, once finalized for their bike, will be seeing how they can adapt them for other markets.

The calls themselves may become more efficient, thanks to work being done by BMW. The car manufacturer has got Sila Nanotechnologies addressing the structure of the anodes of li-ion cells. By replacing the graphite, the company believes it can achieve a 40% increase in charging potential and, notably for vapers, will be pushing the design change in cells for domestic products and mobile phones before incorporating it in car batteries.

Avsax images from Environmental Defence Systems Limited - www.avsax.com

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker