Sat, Oct 17, 2009 - Page 11 News List

ITRI’s battery technology wins ‘Oscar of invention’

SAFER OPTION The research institute’s STOBA lithium battery material is described as the only technology that solves the dangerous problem of thermal runaway

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA , WASHINGTON

Taiwan’s non-profit Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) has been selected by US-based R&D Magazine as one of this year’s R&D (Research and Development) 100 Award recipients for its STOBA lithium battery.

The magazine honored the new-generation battery technology for its ability to minimize the risk of internal short-circuits that lead to the common safety concern of “thermal runaway,” a process that can cause batteries to overheat and even explode.

“The system begins with a ­polymer devised by ITRI that is blended into the battery. The polymer is responsible for the suppression of thermal heat, even in the case of puncture or other catastrophic damage,” the magazine said.

Alex Peng (彭裕民), deputy director of ITRI’s Material and Chemical Research Laboratories (MCL), said in an ITRI statement that the STOBA technology was the only technology in the world that has fundamentally resolved the lithium battery safety issue.

“STOBA technology has already passed mandatory shorting and piercing experiments that are more stringent than the international safety standard,” Peng said.

He will lead an MCL research team to the US to receive the global technology award at a ceremony in Orlando, Florida, on Nov. 12.

MCL director Liu Jonq-min (劉仲明) said in the statement that while lithium batteries were the most important power source in today’s electronic products, they remained the most unstable component.

In the past, safer lithium batteries were not required by manufacturers because there was simply no solution to the thermal runaway problem, but the safe STOBA material will help Taiwan’s lithium battery industry stand out in the international arena, Liu said.

ITRI has applied for nine patents ­related to the STOBA technology, which not only resolves the safety problem, but can also extend a battery’s high temperature recycling life by more than 20 percent, the ITRI statement said.

This is the second year in a row that the Hsinchu-based research institute has been named in the R&D 100 after the magazine honored it last year for its AC-LED technology.

Other recipients of this year’s R&D 100 Awards, nicknamed by the Chicago Tribune the “Oscars of Invention,” include many big names from the US, Japan, Canada and Russia, such as Intel, NASA, the US Argonne National Laboratory, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

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