An E-Bike Battery That Can’t Catch Fire, Even When Shot?

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A few years ago, a man bought a Tesla and not long later, the battery pack burst into flames. Tesla was initially going to give the man another car, but rescinded the offer when Tesla figured out why it caught fire: the guy had somehow managed to negligently discharge a firearm inside. When the bullet got into the battery pack, one of the battery cells stopped it from passing all the way through, but it also caused a short circuit and then a fire.

As far as I know, nobody has managed to mishandle a gun and shoot an e-bike’s battery pack, but there have been plenty of notable e-bike fires in the news, caused by a variety of issues. Shoddy DIY and independent shop work, improper storage, and factory defects have caused injuries and deaths.

But, a new company says its engineers have the answer to all of this: 18650 cells that are not only fireproof, but won’t even catch fire if shot. These special cells were designed by a company called Nanotech Energy, and are now available for purchase through the company’s US partner, Voltaplex.

According to Nanotech, the cell design combined an electrolyte and proprietary electrodes with Soteria metallized polymer current collectors. The company also claims that the batteries are completely unable to catch fire, even when put through extreme punishment. And, the company has some receipts to prove it!

In the above video, the team shot a common lithium-ion 18650 cell and the fireproof cell with a 4.5mm bullet (.177 caliber) moving at 2,917 feet per second. The other standard battery, with the same bullet weight moving at roughly the same speed instantly caught fire and was no longer able to hold any charge, while the Nanotech cell didn’t suffer either of those problems.

But, that’s not the only abuse the team put the Nanotech Energy cell through.

During a nail test, traditional lithium-ion batteries rapidly reached temperatures of 700°C, resulting in immediate destruction. Amazingly, Nanotech’s Graphene-Powered Batteries not only remained intact, but they also exhibited no signs of fire or explosion, only a minor puncture in the battery cell could be seen.

On top of that, a heat test where both batteries were subjected to extreme temperatures, the traditional lithium-ion battery underwent irreversible changes and completely burned down at only 150C. But, the Nanotech battery cell maintained its performance for nearly two hours when heated to that same temperature. Even when the temperature was raised to 180°C, the battery showed signs of cell venting, but without any fire or explosion.

So, it’s no joke that the batteries can take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’ in many cases, and can’t catch fire even when they do break.

“Every month in 2023, we’ve read about the devastating impact of huge fires caused by cheap, dangerous batteries that have cost people their homes, their businesses, and even their lives,” Curtis Collar, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at Nanotech Energy, said. “Today, we say enough is enough.”

According to the companies, Voltaplex’s website offers cells that are well-suited for a range of applications including e-bikes, robotics, medical devices, and even military equipment (the bullet-resistance might really get put to the test there!). The cells are exclusively manufactured at Nanotech Energy’s 50,000 square foot Chico 2 production plant in Chico, CA.

“It has been a privilege to work with the talented team at Nanotech to help develop this groundbreaking American-made battery cell.” said Brian Morin, CEO at Voltaplex and Soteria. “Combining Nanotech’s non-flammable electrolyte with Soteria’s current collector that acts like a fuse inside the battery provides a unique combination of safety in a cell that can take tremendous damage without igniting. With over 100 companies having already preordered the cell, we look forward to working with the industry to implement this new level of safety. “

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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

Jennifer Sensiba has 1869 posts and counting. See all posts by Jennifer Sensiba