The Science Behind Battery Explosion

The Science Behind Battery Explosion

With all the recent reports of exploding Galaxy Note 7 rounding up worldwide, Samsung made a bold decision to recall 2.5 million of their devices telling that its batteries could be a danger to its consumers. But this isn’t the first time a company made a recall decision. In 2006, Dell also recalled more than a million laptop battery packs due to combustion problems. This year, a total of 500,000 hover boards were also removed from stores because of reported explosions, injuring users.

So, why is this happening? The blame points toward lithium-ion batteries. What is a lithium-ion battery? Why does it explode? And what should we do to avoid this kind of incident? Let’s delve into the science behind this phenomenon.

Background Check

Lithium-ion batteries power the things we commonly use like digital cameras and laptops but has been an indispensable part of every mobile phone since its introduction in 1991. Because they last longer than a regular AA battery, it became the top choice for rechargeable electronic devices also, they were cheaper to produce and doesn’t take long to recharge.

It works the same way most batteries do. It stores energy and releases it as required through a controlled chemical reaction. A Lithium-ion battery has two electrodes on opposite ends where electricity flows in and out of the battery. Just like any other batteries with a + or – sign on each end, one electrode will be charged with a positively-charged ion known as a cathode, while the other end will be filled with negatively charged ions called an anode. So when we use a lithium-powered device, such as a smartphone, the lithium ions sifts through the cathode into the anode and at during the hours when we charge our phone, the lithium ions goes back  from the anode to the cathode. A separator is always placed between the two electrodes to prevent any direct contact.

Explosive Reaction

If the two electrodes meet, it can set-off unexpected reactions like catching fire or, worse, explosions. Samsung also confirmed this, saying that it was due to a manufacturing process error. But this isn’t always the case.

Oftentimes, devices spontaneously explode because of oversights in the charging process. Some batteries rely on a special software that provides instructions on how much and how fast it should be charged. If a flaw in the process exists, it could compromise the chemicals inside the battery which can cause a chain reaction known as a thermal runaway. Poor manufacturing of devices can also be blamed for such explosions. Bits of metal or other objects can find its way inside the battery during manufacturing, which can set off a thermal runaway.

Overheating is also a major factor why batteries explode since today’s phones are made in metal (Note: metal is a good thermal conductor) thus making the device even hotter. Aside from this, simply dropping your phone can also break the separator inside the battery and, well, explosions occur.

Preventing the Inevitable

As our smartphones and other devices become so critical on our day to day activities, IT Services Australia provides you the necessary reminders for your safety:

  • Avoid using any 3rd-party or non-certified chargers.
  • Abstain from overcharging your devices. It’s better if you charge it throughout the day, not overnight.
  • Refrain from using non-accredited power banks. They might be cheaper than the branded ones, but using them might cause uncertain damages.
  • Don’t hang your phone out under the sun for too long.
  • Avoid applying excessive pressure on your devices.
  • Equip your phone with a phone cover. A jelly case perhaps can absorb a drop impact.

Don’t Panic

Even with all the news about this unusual blowing up batteries, there’s no reason for you to panic. All companies still follow stringent procedures to make sure any incidents like this, as with Samsung’s case, won’t happen. For any hardware concerns like this, don’t hesitate to contact IT support Australia for any immediate assistance.

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