Public Release:  UT Arlington engineers making batteries safer, cooler

Research centers on lithium-ion heating

University of Texas at Arlington

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IMAGE: Ankur Jain, left, and David Wetz will study lithium-ion batteries for the Office of Naval Research. view more

Credit: UT Arlington

Two UT Arlington engineering faculty members have won a $152,077 Office of Naval Research grant to study the thermal properties of lithium-ion batteries and devise better designs for cooling and operating them safely on Navy ships and planes.

David Wetz, electrical engineering assistant professor, and Ankur Jain, aerospace and mechanical engineering assistant professor, are working collaboratively on the research effort.

"These batteries can get extremely hot especially when used at high current rates like the Navy plans to do in high continuous and pulsed power applications. That heat can cause the battery to age more quickly," Wetz said. "We need to understand how to predict the batteries' temperature rise and safely cool them to maintain both the batteries' lives and safety."

Wetz noted a few, highly publicized fires in recent years involving lithium-ion batteries on ships and planes.

The project's most pressing need is to ensure that lithium-ion batteries can be operated safely and that the deterioration of the batteries can be adequately predicted.

The batteries will ultimately be used as both primary power sources for low- and high-power applications and also as an uninterruptable power supply aboard ships and planes, Jain Said.

"We need to ensure that backup generators and power supplies are not forced to stop powering their loads due to unexpected temperature rise," Jain said.

Khosrow Behbehani, dean of the UT Arlington College of Engineering, said the results of Wetz and Jain's research is truly multidisciplinary and will benefit all users of lithium-ion batteries.

"Lithium-ion batteries are used in consumer electronics, portable power sources and electric cars, to name just a few applications," Behbehani said. "Our team's work will have a positive impact on any sector that depends on this type of power source."

The work by Wetz and Jain is representative of the world-class research under way at The University of Texas at Arlington, a comprehensive research institution of more than 33,300 students in the heart of North Texas. Visit http://www.uta.edu for more information.

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