'Bulletproof' Battery Could Prevent Fires, Researchers Say

PHOTO: A lithium-ion battery sits inside a smartphone sold as an Apple Inc. iPhone 4S in an arranged photograph in Hong Kong, Jan. 11, 2014.Brent Lewin/Bloomberg/Getty Images
A lithium-ion battery, seen in this file photo, sits inside a smartphone sold as an Apple Inc. iPhone 4S in an arranged photograph in Hong Kong, Jan. 11, 2014.

The same bulletproof material that has saved countless lives may now have another practical use in everything from smartphones to airplanes.

Researchers at the University of Michigan have used Kevlar as a barrier to create slimmer lithium-ion batteries. The result is a battery that lasts longer, is more flexible and is explosion-proof, according to Nicholos Kotov.

The University of Michigan professor, who is co-inventor of the technology, told ABC News that Kevlar was chosen as an insulator for its "high strength" and "heat resistance."

Standard lithium-ion batteries work by sending charges between electrodes via a circuit path. When battery membrane holes become a certain size, lithium atoms can accumulate and create structures called dendrites, which poke through the membrane.

Dendrites become a problem if they reach the other electrode, which will short out the circuit. This is how some battery fires are believed to have started.

"It turns out that this strength [of Kevlar] is very important for the prevention of the growth of dendrites in the batteries," Kotov said.

The University of Michigan team founded a company, called Elegus Technologies, with the hope of bringing the research to market.

Kotov said 30 companies have so far requested samples of the material and that they hope to begin production toward the end of 2016.