Is lithium-ion battery safe?
Most of us can’t stay for an hour without using the lithium-ion battery. They exist in our smartphones, laptops, electric and hybrid vehicles, wireless headsets, activity trackers, and electronic cigarettes. However, in the past few years for incidents where cell phone batteries catch fire or explode on airplanes, or perhaps an electric car catches on fire. These accidents brought this issue back to the front desk and center, and made many people ask: Is lithium-ion battery safe? Despite the safety problems of these lithium-ion batteries, lithium-ion batteries are so integrated into the modern world that it is difficult to imagine a world without them. Usually lithium-ion batteries are safe, but to protect yourselves, there are some things you should know.
Lithium-ion battery is safe but how lithium-Ion Battery Work?
To understand why lithium-ion batteries sometimes fail, you need to know what is happening under the hood. There are two electrodes inside each lithium-ion battery. The positive cathode and the negative anode are separated by a thin layer of “micro-perforated” plastic to prevent the two electrodes from contacting. When you charge a lithium-ion battery, lithium-ions are pushed by the current of the cathode, pass through the micro-holes in the diaphragm and conductive liquid, and reach the anode. When the battery is discharged, lithium-ions flowing from the anode toward the cathode, and the opposite is true. This is the reaction of powering your laptop. As time goes by, this process will drain the battery. Eventually, it will lose the ability to hold an electric vehicle charging.
It is rare for lithium-ion batteries to fail. About two to three parts per million of battery. In fact, you are more likely to be struck by lightning than by battery-related accidents! Most of the ignition and explosions of lithium-ion batteries are attributed to short circuits. This happens when the plastic diaphragm fails to make the anode and cathode contact. Once the two are combined, the battery will start to overheat. Another possibility is that the battery can heat up to the point where the heat is out of control. Here, the heat of the contents exerts pressure on the battery, potentially producing an explosion.
What Makes the Lithium-Ion Battery Explode?
So, why do some lithium-ion batteries explode or catch fire, while majority of lithium-ion batteries are safe? The answer is that there are many different reasons. Some of these reasons are related to design and manufacturing problems, while others are due to users’ mistakes and improper behaviors. Possible causes of ignition and explosion of lithium-ion battery include:
Thermal runaway and multi-battery: Although it has nothing to do with the single batteries in most smartphones, only one of the whole batteries needs to fail. Once a battery is overheated, a domino effect will occur, which is called “thermal runaway” For batteries with hundreds of cells thermal runaway has the potential to be a really big problem.
Bad Design or Manufacturing Defects: the battery is poorly designed. In that case, there wasn’t enough space for the electrodes and separator in the battery. In some models, when the battery expanded a little when it is charged, the electrodes will bend and cause a short circuit. If quality control is not strict enough, or there is some defect in the manufacturing process, even a well-designed battery may fail.
External Factors: The extremely high temperature will almost certainly lead to failure. As we all know, batteries placed too close or caught in a fire will explode. Other external factors can also lead to lithium-ion battery failure. If you drop the phone too heavily (or too many times), you’ll damage the separator, resulting in contact with the electrodes. If you puncture the battery (accidentally or intentionally), you’ll almost certainly cause a short circuit.
Overcharge and explosion: improperly manufactured or poorly insulated charger can also damage the lithium-ion battery. The user does not use the matching charger as required, thus destroying the protection circuit, and the user often charges indefinitely. That’s why we recommend using only official chargers. Although it is very rare, if these safety precautions fail, overcharging is a way to overheat a battery.
Safety Measures of Using Lithium-Ion Battery
Even we agree most cases lithium-ion battery safe though, here are some suggestions that will help you make sure you always use your lithium-ion batteries most safely.
Do not use damaged lithium-ion Batteries: If you notice that a battery is damaged, leaking, expanded, or overheating, you should stop using the equipment immediately and recycle it. Any visible sign of damage may indicate that there is a serious structural failure inside the lithium battery.
Do not charge the lithium-ion battery unattended: When you are at home, you must always charge your battery, stay awake, and be able to react when accidents happen. Quick action with a fire extinguisher can make the difference between a minor inconvenience and major property damage.
Only use the charger that came with your device: Official charging accessories don’t just cost more because they protect the manufacturers’ profit margins, though. They also cost more because they usually have higher manufacturing standards and stricter testing requirements. It’s best to always avoid charging with general-purpose accessories or off-brand.
Don’t Carry Bare Lithium-Ion Batteries in Your Pocket: Many other items you may put in your pocket–keys, change, even a pen—are metal or have metal parts, which easily come into contact with the battery and cause a short circuit. A short circuit can quickly cause your pants to catch fire.
After more than 100 years of development, today’s world is very dependent on lithium-ion batteries every day. It’s reassuring to know that lithium-ion batteries are safe and heat-related failures are extremely rare in these modern batteries. Manufacturers now have several layers of protective measures, which greatly limit the possibility of an accident. Although the safety precautions of lithium-ion batteries should still be paid attention to, we hope that the safety problems related to lithium-ion batteries will soon become a thing of the past once and for all.