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Has Triangle scientist’s team developed better battery for jets, electric cars, iPhones?

CHAPEL HILL — A team led by one of North Carolina’s most prominent scientists has found a potential solution to the notorious high-tech battery fires in Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner, the Tesla Model S car and iPhones such as the one that burst into flames in a Maine eighth-grader’s pocket two weeks ago.

The researchers, led by Joseph M. DeSimone, have found a nonflammable liquid electrolyte for high-capacity lithium-ion batteries. Such batteries power some electric cars and are common in consumer electronics such as cellphones, tablets and laptops. They now use a flammable liquid that can ignite because of malfunctions or damage.

The discovery is the subject of an article published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DeSimone, a chemical engineering professor at N.C. State University and a chemistry professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, is one of the authors.

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