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Solutions and Choices for Lithium Ion Batteries

Solutions and Choices for Lithium Ion Batteries

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Lithium ion batteries are rechargeable batteries commonly used for portable electronics. They have also found use in electrical vehicles and are gaining popularity in aerospace and military. In the Li-ion batteries, lithium ions move from the positive to the negative electrodes during discharging, and the reverse during charging. The positive electrode is made up of an intercalated lithium compound, while the negative electrode is made typically of graphite. These two electrodes are separated by a thin sheet of micro-perforated plastic that prevents the two electrodes from touching each other.

Why do lithium ion batteries explode?

The very property that accounts for the usefulness of lithium ion battery is the same property that gives them the capacity to catch fire and explode. The energy storage capacity of Li-ion battery is really great. When this stored energy is released as a trickle, it powers your device all day. But when the energy is released all-in-one go, the battery can explode.

Most of the explosions associated with Li-ion battery fires and explosions arise from the problem of short circuiting. This problem happens when the plastic separator that stands between the two electrodes fails, and lets the anode touch the cathode. Immediately these two opposite electrodes touch each other, the battery starts to overheat.

Some of the possible reasons leading to a failed separator are :

  • Defects from factory: in this case, the battery is poorly designed, as was seen in the Samsung galaxy note 7 battery. There isn’t enough space for accommodating the electrodes and the separator in the battery. In some lithium ion battery models, when the battery expands as it is been charged, the electrodes tend to bend and cause a short circuit. If quality control isn’t kept in check, even a well designed battery will fail.
  • External factors: when lithium ion batteries are placed too close to extreme heat, they tend to fail. Li-ion batteries left too close to a heat source or caught in a fire always explodes. Other external factors that may lead to battery failure includes dropping your phone too hard, which may damage the separator and cause electrodes to touch. If you also pierce the battery either deliberately or accidentally, there are chances that you may have caused a short circuit.
  • Charger problems: chargers that are not properly insulated and poorly manufactured chargers can cause damage to lithium ion batteries. If a charger generates heat near the battery, it can do a lot of damage to cause failure.
  • Thermal runaway and multiple cells: this is typical of batteries with multiple cells. Only one of the battery cell needs to fail for the whole battery to go. Once one cell overheats, it leads to an effect called thermal runaway.

Despite the above failures associated with lithium ion batteries, it is still considered to be a safe and matured technology. The solution to the failure and explosion of lithium ion batteries include:

  • Avoid exposing battery to high temperatures, like placing batteries in heated environments.
  • Avoid placing all devices containing lithium-ion batteries together.
  • Avoid overcharging your batteries. It is typical of car batteries to overcharge batteries, so it should be avoided at all cost.

Can an uncharged lithium ion battery explode?

A charged battery is in a more unstable chemical state, so it may explode easier. An uncharged one can still burn or explode easily. Lithium is a reactive element that oxidizes when it comes in contact with air, and reacts explosively when it comes in contact with water. In all of these reactions, the energy released is more than just the electrical energy stored in the battery. So uncharged Li-ion batteries can explode because much of the materials in the battery are still highly flammable. It may not necessarily give an explosion, but could be fairly unsafe when it catches fire.

HOW DO YOU PREVENT A LITHIUM ION BATTERY FROM EXPLODING?

Most mobile phones, laptops, hoverboards and several other electronic devices are powered by lithium ion batteries. These batteries are very safe normally, but when improperly handled then there is risk of fire or explosion. The following steps can be taken to avoid battery explosion:

1.Purchase your electronics from a reputable supplier with an excellent record record on safety and health.

2.Electronic devices usually come with a set of instructions manual explaining how to safely use your device. These instructions can help you to reduce the life threatening risks of fire and explosion.

3.Always use the charger that came with your device. But should in case you misplace it, it is advised that you buy a replacement that is recommended by the manufacturer of the device. Just because a charger fits into your device doesn’t mean its working safely. Using a wrong charger is one of the major cause of li-ion battery explosions.

4.Electronic devices should be kept away from extreme heat and extreme cold. An extremely high temperature is when seen from a radiator or a car dashboard on a sunny day. Placing your device on such places can result in explosions.

5.Keeping your device clean and dry and away from water.

6.Unplug your device when it is fully charged. Turn off your device when not in use.

7.Lithium ion batteries should be transported only in specifically designed containers. Batteries should be kept away from metals and other batteries. Li-ion batteries can explode when kept inside pocket or hand bag, and also when they bump into coins and keys.

8.Modification of your device is dangerous and increases the risk of explosion greatly. Even experts get harmed while modifying.

How to Choose a lithium ion battery with Good Quality

When choosing a battery, the following characteristics should be taken into account:

1.The battery capacity in milliampere-hours(mAh).

2.The voltage of the battery

3.Charge rate. Speed at which a battery can be safely charged.

4.The operating temperature range in which the battery can be used.

5.Service life.

Safety.

 

 

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