E-Cigarettes; Vaporizer Devices; Toys; Hover Boards; Portable Batteries
Recent battery accidents, primarily related to lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries, have increased as the popularity of use has increased. The safety circumstances surrounding such incidents are complicated by a combination of factors, including a particular battery’s design, materials specifications, manufacturing, type of application, aging, or user associated treatment. Before getting into such specifics, some of the historical background builds the foundation of where we are today.
Batteries of many types have obviously been the cornerstone of portable (and some fixed) power for nearly 200 years. It seems like it is only the past few years that one has heard a consistent pattern of reports where their uncontrolled release of energy has caused property damage and serious injury or even death. Interestingly, the laws of electrochemical reactions as applied to batteries have not changed, but nature has been slow in giving up some of the details, until forced to do so through more sophisticated scientific endeavors to uncover them.
The safety guidance and good practices for care and use of traditional batteries has been relatively well known. For example, precautions while handling or charging batteries, within traditional vehicles is pretty well recognized by the general population. Also, precautions such as proper disposal have also been addressed both by manufacturers and government bodies. These traditional precautions existed in a climate where the older battery styles may have had larger margins of safety against unsafe design, manufacture, or use.
However, this most recent awareness has been caused by an increasing number (and probably rates) of battery accidents. This has gotten the attention of manufacturers, distributors, retailers, government, standards organizations, and litigation parties.
Such incidents have been associated with uncontrolled rates of electrical discharge for some battery types that are almost of an explosive nature, or one which has a high discharge of a battery’s contents which were intended by the manufacturer to be contained. Overheating, electrical sparking, flammable vapor fires, and explosive type reactions causing projectiles are some of the types of incidents reported.