South Korea’s LG Chem has developed a product that it says retards the spread of flames in electric vehicle batteries and delivers the longest fire-resistance performance in the world.

Made from various composites including polyphenylene oxide and polyamide resin, the Seoul-based chemical company says the engineered plastic creates a highly functional flame barrier.

During testing, the product was able to prevent the spread of flames caused by thermal propagation for over ten minutes at 1,000°C, which is 10 times longer than general plastics.

Thermal runaway is the leading cause of EV battery fires. When a battery cell exceeds its temperature threshold, fire can occur due to a short circuit triggered by overcharging and over-discharging. The resulting fire is difficult to control as lithium reacts violently with water. LG Chem’s new engineering plastic product, it says, would give drivers and passengers significantly more time to evacuate a vehicle in case of a damaged and overheating battery.

“We are proud to present this new product, a significant milestone for us after more than 10 years of dedicated research to deliver innovation for our customers,” said Steven Kim, Senior Vice President of Engineering Materials Division at LG Chem. “LG Chem continues to lead the rapidly evolving e-Mobility market, and we will continue to lead innovations through consistent R&D and investments in manufacturing based on our world-class chemical compounding technology.”

Commercial production of the new product is on target to begin in 2023 and the company is currently in the process of obtaining patents in Korea, the United States and selected European markets.