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Reduce the power output of alkaline batteries exposed to a direct short
engineering mechanical engineering mechanics chemical engineering power systems circuits product innovation electrical engineering
top 5
42 months ago
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Today's challenge centers around a product you probably have in your house right now:  AA and AAA one-time use batteries (i.e. primary alkaline cells).  We want to improve the reliability of primary alkaline batteries when they are exposed to situations that would cause a rapid increase in their internal temperature.  For example, imagine you are putting two AA batteries into a device, but you insert them both backwards.  This incorrect installation creates a condition that can raise the internal temperature of the battery (i.e. short circuit).

To increase reliability and assure proper usage, it's important for commercial batteries to have methods in place that will reduce or shutdown the power output in the event of a direct short.  We are seeking new methods and technologies that will effect such power reduction / shutdown under the following conditions:

  • The reduction / shutdown mechanism initiates when internal temp is above 80 degrees C / 176 degrees F (i.e. it should not add resistance or affect the battery during normal usage below this threshold)
  • The mechanism initiates well below 110 degrees C / 230 degrees F (i.e. it will initiate before internal temps reach this threshold)
  • The mechanism may be reversible or permanent
  • The mechanism must exist inside the cell, and may either be a device or a chemical modification

Propose a new method and/or technology that will shut down or greatly reduce the power output of primary alkaline batteries in the event of a direct short.  As a recap, here are the conditions that must be met:

  • Your idea must initiate / only function in the following range: > 80 degrees C, < than 110 degrees C
  • Your idea must exist inside the cell: as such, you will be constrained by commercial battery size
  • Solutions that use and/or require less space within the battery will be preferred (smaller = better)
  • The solution must be stable in a high alkaline environment
  • The solution may be reversible or permanent 

**Top submissions will provide verbal and/or visual evidence that the idea proposed is feasible.  


Your idea should go above and beyond the following technologies that we are already aware of:

  • Bimetallic switches
  • Fuse / tab meltdown
  • Shutdown separator
  • CID (current interrupt device)
  • Polymeric overcurrent protector
    Submissions will be graded on the following criteria:
  • Meets Deliverables
  • Creativity
  • Clarity
  • Manufacturability
Reward Tiers
2 Winners
will receive $500 each
3 Honorable Mentions
will receive $200 each
$500.00 J John Brown Merced College
$500.00 Picture?width=160 Christian Guest Lancaster University
$200.00 Square pic 60 njphotoshootjanelle Dr. Janelle Christine Simmons Liberty University
$200.00 Square pic 60 matthew gaiser calgary bow headshot  1 Matthew Gaiser Queen's University
$200.00 Square pic 60 img 0326  2 Alaa Walid ZewailCity for science and technology
Submission questions

What's your age?

under 18
18 - 22
23 - 26
27 - 30

Do you reside in the US or Canada?

Yes - US
Yes - Canada

If you answered "no" that you do not reside in the US or Canada, in which country do you live?

Answer the following based on your current situation:

  • If you are a student, what is your area of study?
  • If you are employed, what industry do you work in?

What is your highest level of degree attained?

High School / Secondary School graduate
Associate degree
Bachelor's degree
Master's degree
Doctor or Professional degree

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