Lithium-ion batteries have recently hugged the headlines after a pair of headphones exploded on a plane. The unfortunate incident was hot on the heels of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 recall and major issues involving hover board batteries.
By nature, lithium-ion batteries are really quite dangerous because they are filled with flammable electrolytes that can combust when exposed to heat. Inside a gadget, the main line of defence to prevent a short circuit is a thin, porous slip of polypropylene to prevent the electrodes from touching. Once the separator is breached and the electrodes come into contact with each other, heat can easily build up.
So, if lithium-ion batteries are dangerous, why are they still used on gadgets? The batteries are incredibly efficient and they can keep a phone or laptop running all day. A large amount of energy can be kept in a very small slim package.
With all the news about exploding batteries, there must something wrong with the way the batteries are built. According to the initial recall of Samsung Galaxy Note 7, there was no sufficient space between the battery’s protective pouch and the electrodes.
Most gadgets are designed to be slim, sleek and light. However, the design can wreak havoc with a well-built battery that is packed into a very small package. Pressure from the hardware that is surrounding the battery will likely cause damage to the separator or electrodes to result into a short circuit.
Even if the gadget is well-designed, long term wear and accidental dropping can do damage to the volatile power source. If the battery looks puffed up, the chemicals inside the battery are producing gas, something they shouldn’t do. When the battery swells, it creates pressure on the battery housing that may lead to a puncture or conflagration. If the phone has a sealed-ion battery, you will break the warranty if you take it apart.
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