Back in 2006, PC Pitstop sponsored research by D2 Worldwide into dangers of lithium ion batteries, which can fail with catastrophic results. You may recall that the mid-2000’s had a number of reports of lithium battery failures, fires and battery recalls.
This year (2013), PC Pitstop sponsored another look at lithium ion batteries, to see if the safety situation had improved. D2 Worldwide again performed the study.
The results were released on July 24th, with a video showing the dramatic fire and explosion caused (intentionally, for the demonstration) by overheating the lithium ion battery in a laptop.
You can see the video via YouTube http://youtu.be/V482lvMRXUg.
My “take-aways” from the video and discussion are:
- lithium batteries are all around us
- lithium batteries are here to stay
- they are routinely used safely
- be careful in handling batteries
- failure can come from overheating, overcharging (if internal circuitry fails), physical damage to the battery,
- internal impurities (small metal shavings were reported to trigger failures in one manufacturer’s batteries in mid-2000’s) can cause failures
- bulging batteries indicate problems on the way…
- internal shorts break down the batteries
- external shorts can cause failures, too
- batteries have internal circuitry designed to prevent overcharging
There was also a significant auto fire back in 2011 related to lithium batteries. A Chevrolet Volt fire was caused by its lithium battery 3 weeks after the vehicle had been subjected to side-impact crash-testing . Vehicle was in a parking lot when the fire occurred.
You can learn more about that incident in this New York Times article