The U.S. Navy Is Designing The Battery of The Future, Or At Least One That Won't Explode

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Earlier this month, the Navy issued a memo earlier that would ban vaping on its vessels starting in May, but there’s a hope yet for our military’s e-cig users, thanks to American ingenuity and possibly an eperimental SEAL submarine.

Chemists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory announced a new and rechargeable battery technology that is allegedly safer, reports Popular Science. And not just for e-cigarettes, either; these batteries could be used in electric vehicles, ships or bikes. Anything, it seems like.


Lithium-ion batteries are found in everything from Teslas to smartphones (ahem, Samsung, ahem). Though it’s pretty rare, they can explode. There is a flammable liquid within the battery that can ignite if the device gets too hot. This is what happened to an experimental sub designed for the Navy SEALs back in 2008, as PopSci reports. Contrast that to an alkaline battery, like the AA disposable ones in your Xbox controller, and you’ll find it uses a non-flammable “water-based electrolyte” and “zinc as a material in one of the electrodes.”

And this is where the NRL scientists come in: the form it usually takes inside alkaline batteries, zinc doesn’t cooperate with recharging. It’s prone to forming dendrites—tiny, problematic spikes. The NRL scientists reconstituted that zinc into another form, which makes the alkaline battery rechargeable without risking dendrite formation.


Of course, the Department of Defense likes the fact that zinc can be mined in the United States, notes Popular Science, so there’s that aspect, too. It reports that the Navy is partnering with EnZinc, a company focused on portable energy solutions, to put the batteries into things like electric bicycles.

And then, hopefully after that, vapes.