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Lithium Battery Dangers - Potential Risks, Concerns, and Recycling
Lithium batteries are used all over the world but they are not as safe as their wide use. They are a type of rechargeable battery and are commonly used in portable electronics and electric vehicles. They are gaining popularity in aerospace and military applications as well, but it's important to know about the dangers of the usage of lithium batteries. There is no doubt that lithium batteries are insanely useful but that doesn’t mean that unknowingly or knowingly you put yourself or the people around you in danger.
What are the Lithium Battery Potential Risks?
Here are some of the potential risks that lithium batteries bring with them.
The lithium batteries are the new potential fire hazard and can be life-threatening in some cases. You may have heard about the Samsung phones catching fire, what was the reason? Lithium batteries were. There are several reasons by which it can be a potential fire hazard. They can attract the fire even when lithium batteries are not stored properly. One overheated energy cell is all it takes; and the fire will spread in a chain way of reactions.
A fire in the lithium battery can even occur in the charging process. Here are some of the don’ts that aggravate the potential risk of fire.
- If the battery is fully discharged and is not shortly recharged afterward.
- The battery is exposed to liquids especially the saltwater.
- If you try to operate or charge a damaged battery.
- Using some other charger that is not specifically designed for that kind of battery.
It's also very important to dispose of the lithium batteries correctly.
2.Toxic to Environment
We have always heard that lithium batteries are the least toxic and there is not much lie into it. They are less toxic but when some of the metals like cobalt and nickel are present, it can be hazardous. It can be highly damaging even if it only has a little quantity. Once these batteries are broken down and if not taken care of properly, they can be a hazard that needs some precautionary measures.
3.Toxic to Human
They are not hazardous until they are enclosed in the electronic products but as soon as you break the electronic device and are open to people, it is a hazard. Even if one of the cells is damaged in the battery it can lead to the release of harmful metals and materials and inhaling the toxic materials like cobalt can cause serious health problems.
How do you care for your Lithium Battery away from Hazards?
Here are some of the precautionary and safety measures that you should take care of while using the lithium battery.
1.Usage of Safe Metals
As we discussed that the usage of cobalt can be dangerous, so avoiding that and using safe materials in lithium technology like manganese oxide and phosphate avoid the risk factors on the industrial level.
The disposing method of lithium batteries is important to know as they can release some harmful and toxic materials which can be a threat to our environment and human life as well if not disposed of properly. It will be a bonus point if you look up to the nearest center and drop off the old lithium batteries for the recycling process as you can’t just throw them in the common dustbins. Don’t crush or puncture your old lithium batteries as they can increase the risk of fire.
3.Prevention of Short-circuits
Try to prevent the external and internal short circuits to avoid mechanical damage to them. You can use terminal covers to avoid the battery poles from short-circuiting.
4.Exposure to Heat
Do not expose your lithium batteries of high temperature or direct heat sources like sunlight for prolonged periods. Also, don’t keep your old batteries close to the flammable materials as they can aggravate the fire hazard.
Proper storage of lithium batteries is important on both the individual and industrial levels. Industries should take all the measures like monitoring through fire alarms, the presence of automatic water extinguishing systems, and the separation by fire-proof construction systems. Avoid the storage of heaps of lithium batteries and keep the number as minimum as possible. Lithium batteries should never be kept with fire-escalating materials.
The correct charging process is very important in the case of lithium batteries. Charge your batteries in a fire-safe area, away from children and pets. Don’t ever charge a battery that is swollen or bulging. It’s not normal to feel odor while charging, but if you are doing so, contact the manufacturer soon as the battery is discharged. Normally, batteries get slightly warm while charging but if they are extremely hot, immediately disconnect the charging. It is always ideal to charge your lithium batteries within 24 hours of complete discharge.
7.Usage of Fire-Proof bags
You can use the fire-proof explosion battery bags for the storage of your battery while traveling or not traveling.
Is Lithium Battery Recyclable?
It is the common question nowadays as the people are now focusing more on recyclable products. Lithium batteries are surely recyclable but the process is quite difficult to do so. Fortunately, the lithium battery recycling process is a rising practice. On average about 50% of a lithium battery can be recycled effectively.
The success of lithium batteries has urged the companies to produce heaps of these batteries but because of the economic and technical factors, only 5% are recycled today and the rest of them end up in the trash. Although some serious issues are faced while discussing the recycling of lithium batteries, it’s about the time that the companies should take it seriously. Researches about different economical methods of recycling lithium batteries should be conducted on a wide scale so that in future we can have a better recycling rate of lithium batteries. It’s the need of the hour keeping the environmental hazards and increasing pollution in mind, otherwise, they can be a hazard unless they are properly recycled. Battery recycling is the foremost option to keep you, your family, and your environment safe.