Samsung Galaxy Note 7
A woman passes an advert for the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 in London, Sept. 2, 2016. Reuters/Luke MacGregor

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 crisis last year highlighted safety issues with lithium-ion batteries, which led to improved battery mechanisms and overall research in battery technology. Scientists, with support from the U.S. Department of Energy and Oak Ridge Associated Universities, have created a water-based electrolyte battery, which is safer than current lithium-ion batteries.

The most commonly used lithium-ion batteries generally explode due to the charging and release of electrolytes as they travel from one electrode to another, since the organic materials they are made of are highly flammable. These materials also form a “solid electrolyte interphase” (SEI) layer inside the battery which carries ions from one electrode to another.

The new battery uses a protective layer with high-concentration of salt, which preserves the electrodes and thereby lets the battery hold more energy. Using this salt, researchers were able to create a SEI.

The main safety of such batteries is that it stops electrodes from breaking down.

The battery is capable of managing 4 volts of electricity.

While the researchers have overcome safety and voltage issues with batteries with water-based electrolytes, the battery life remains a concern since such batteries are currently capable of only producing 70 cycles, which is lesser than the several hundreds of cycles currently provided by lithium-ion batteries.

Water-based batteries have been in the works for some years now, but have been considered sub-par to lithium-ion batteries due to a lesser battery life.

“The next step is to make a longer cycle. We really want to push the technology to a real application and move forward to market” Chongyin Yang, co-author of the study titled “4.0 V Aqueous Li-Ion Batteries” told the Verge on Wednesday.

Water-based electrolytes are not the only alternative to lithium-ion batteries but in fact, solid-state batteries are another alternative being worked on. Companies such as smartphone maker Samsung and Car maker Toyota are also working on solid-state battery technology.

These kinds of batteries have been developed by John Goodenough, the founder of lithium-ion batteries and are considered safer than lithium-ion batteries and can charge faster too. They are also expected to be cheaper than lithium-ion batteries.

The important fact about both water-based and solid-state batteries is that such batteries are not prone to overheating, swelling and heating like lithium-ion ones. Such batteries also have a high level of connectivity at cold temperatures.

Most of these battery technologies came into being post the Galaxy Note 7 crisis last year. While the crisis might have prompted many smartphone makers to innovate in terms of battery technology, the improved batteries have possibilities far ahead of just smartphones. Such batteries can be used in electric cars, smart devices and other electronics.

The universal standard for lithium-ion batteries is set to change with the new battery technology. While solid-state batteries are expected to start being deployed by 2020, water-based batteries are currently in their infancy and there is no timeline available for the development.