Lithium ion batteries are one of the best portable energy sources and is equally dangerous. It comes in various shapes and sizes nowadays but is generally light weight. The fact that makes them mini-explosives is that they have chemicals sealed inside them so that there is no air space. However, with time and exposure to heat, these chemicals may react to produce a gas buildup and that is when the battery life reaches its end. Many times people puncture the battery to release these gases and it is this when a punctured lithium ion battery may act as an explosive.
Is a punctured lithium ion battery dangerous?
Lithium ion batteries are generally found in portable devices, mostly used in cell phones. Often with time and overheating, the chemicals sealed inside the batteries may react and produce gases due to which the batteries may swell. People have weird ideas with these batteries and some may try to puncture it, releasing the gases.
Once the lithium ion battery is punctured, it can be very dangerous. If any lithium ions come in contact with your skin, it will ignite with the moisture and may cause third degree burns. Small specks of lithium are more dangerous than large amounts which often lead to large amounts of hydrogen and oxygen forming a blanket and preventing direct contact with lithium. Inhaling lithium dust or smoke may cause irritation in your nasal pathway and is also dangerous. Lithium is psychoactive, however, fairly good amount of lithium is required for its effects which are unlikely to come from a small battery.
The solvenst that are released from the lithium ion battery are very similar to the terpene that you may have used to remove paint from your hands and they are only as dangerous until you come into contact with lithium itself. Some lithium ion batteries may have nasty amounts of fluorine compounds. The fluorine is not stable in air and reacts with water to form hydrofluoric acid that can be very corrosive. Inhaling fluorine compunds may cause the build up of acid in the lungs and result in shortness of breath.
The plastic that burns together with the lithium ion battery releases small amounts of hydrogen cyanide and chlorine. Hydrogen cyanide is a very poisonous gas and chlorine may react to form hydrochloric acid which is again very corrosive.
The release of such gases upon puncture of lithium ion battery makes it very danagerous and it is advised to dispose off the battery as soon as you discover any kind of puncture.
Can you throw away the punctured lithium ion batttery?
Lithium ion batteries cannot be disposed off in trash so you need to take special care of these batteries while disposing them off. It can be very hazardous to the environment if lithium ion batteries are disposed off in trash.
Some steps need to be taken before the disposal of lithium ion battery. The batteries should be completely discharged which can be done with a 1 mini volt 1 ampere bulb. Discharging the battery will prevent it from starting any sort of fire. The terminals of the battery can also be insulated that will further make it difficult for the battery to start a fire. The lithium ion batteries should always be disposed off at a hazard waste collection point or a recycling drop off location. These are equipped properly to help in the disposal of the battery without causing harm to the environment.
Additionally, there are lithium ion battery disposal kits available in the market but they are fairly expensive. Taking the precautions mentioned above would help prevent any harm to the environment and lead to the proper disposal of the batteries.
What reaction takes place when a lithium ion battery is punctured?
When the lithium ion batteries get heated up, the chemicals packed inside may react to produce gases and cause the batteries to swell. People tend to puncture the battery to release these gases and make the battery flat so they can be reused. However, when you puncture a lithium ion battery there are some physical and chemical reaction that takes place.
A puncture in the lithium ion battery allows air to go inside the battery that reacts with the electrolyte present inside and ignites a spark. Most lithium ion batteries have oil in them and the spark may cause the oil to catch fire. A small spark can then lead to other components catching fire and the explosion of the battery. This may release the corrosive hydrofluoric acid and hydrochloric acid as well as hydrogen cyanide and lithium ion itself that may come in contact with the skin, eyes, nose and mouth and cause damage.
The fire that is caused by the spark causes more oxygen to be pulled inside and catch fire and at one point of time the enclosure is unable to keep the fire inside and maintain balance between the inside and outside of the casing. This is when the battery explodes, so, it is never a good idea to puncture the lithium ion batteries. Once they are damaged, they cannot be reused again and making them flat will not render them recyclable. Instead puncturing a lithium ion battery can be hazardous for the environment.
The electrodes inside the battery are separated by a few inches and pucturing these electrodes actually pinches them together. One of the electrodes have lithium ion and the other electrode has a compound rich in oxygen. When these electrodes are separated, the potential difference between the electrodes is maintained and lithium does not react with oxygen. However, when the electrodes is punctured, the lithium ions freely react with the oxygen and a highly combustible reaction occurs. The reaction draws even more oxygen into it from the outside until the casing bursts and gives rise to an explosion with the release fo poisonous gases and sprinkling of lithium ions all around. It can thus cause a lot of harm if you are near to that kind of explosion.
Due to these events, it is advised to get rid of the lithium ion batteries once they are damaged and dispose them off safely.
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