The reasons for the explosion of lithium-ion batteries and how to avoid lithium-ion battery explosions

Lithium-ion batteries are rechargeable batteries commonly used in portable electronics. In a lithium-ion battery, lithium ions move from the positive electrode to the negative electrode during discharge and vice versa during charging. The positive electrode is made of intercalated lithium compounds, while the negative electrode is usually made of graphite. The two electrodes are separated by a thin layer of microporous plastic that prevents the two electrodes from touching each other.

Why do lithium-ion batteries explode?
Most explosions related to lithium-ion battery fires and explosions are caused by short circuit problems. This problem occurs when the plastic separator that sits between the two electrodes fails and allows the anode to contact the cathode. Immediately the two opposite electrodes came into contact with each other, and the battery began to overheat.

Some possible reasons for a separator to fail are:
Factory defect: The battery is poorly designed in this case. There is not enough room in the battery to accommodate the electrodes and separator. In some lithium-ion battery models, when the battery expands while charging, the electrodes tend to bend and cause a short circuit. Without quality control, even a well-designed battery can fail.

External factors: When lithium-ion batteries are placed too close to extreme heat, they tend to fail. Lithium-ion batteries will always explode if they are too close to a heat source or catch fire. Other external factors that can cause a battery to fail include dropping the phone too hard, which can damage the separator and cause the electrodes to come into contact. If you also pierce the battery, either intentionally or unintentionally, you have the potential to cause a short circuit.

Charger Issues: Chargers that are not properly insulated and poorly manufactured can damage Li-Ion batteries. If the charger generates heat near the battery, it can cause a lot of damage and cause it to malfunction.

Thermal runaway and multiple batteries: This is a typical battery with multiple batteries. Only one battery cell needs to fail for the entire battery to operate. Once a battery overheats, it causes an effect called thermal runaway.

Despite the aforementioned failures associated with lithium-ion batteries, it is still considered a safe and mature technology. Solutions for lithium-ion battery failures and explosions include:

  1. Avoid exposing the battery to high temperature, such as placing the battery in a high temperature environment.
  2. Avoid putting all devices that contain lithium-ion batteries together.
  3. Avoid overcharging. Overcharging the battery is typical of car batteries and should be avoided at all costs.

Can an uncharged lithium-ion battery explode?
A recharged battery is in a more unstable chemical state, so it may be more likely to explode. Lithium is a reactive element that oxidizes when in contact with air, and reacts explosively when in contact with water. Uncharged lithium-ion batteries can explode because most of the materials in the battery are still highly flammable. It may not necessarily explode, but it can be quite unsafe in a fire.

How to prevent lithium-ion batteries from exploding?
Most cell phones, laptops, and several other electronic devices are powered by lithium-ion batteries. These batteries are generally very safe, but there is a risk of fire or explosion if not handled properly. The following steps can be taken to avoid battery explosion:

  1. Buy your electronics from a reputable supplier with an excellent track record in safety and health.
  2. Electronic devices usually come with a set of instruction manuals that explain how to use your device safely. These instructions can help you reduce your life-threatening risk of fire and explosion.
  3. Always use the charger that came with the device. But in case you misplaced it, it is recommended that you buy a replacement recommended by the device manufacturer. Just because a charger fits your device doesn’t mean it’s safe to work. Using the wrong charger is one of the main reasons why lithium-ion batteries explode.
  4. Electronic equipment should be kept away from extreme heat and cold. See extreme temperatures from the radiator or car dashboard on a sunny day. Placing your device in these places could cause an explosion.
  5. Keep the equipment clean, dry and away from water.
  6. Unplug your device when fully charged. Turn off the device when not in use.
  7. Lithium-ion batteries should only be transported in specially designed containers. Batteries should be kept away from metals and other batteries. Lithium-ion batteries can explode when placed in pockets or handbags, and when bumped against coins and keys.
  8. Modifying your equipment is dangerous and greatly increases the risk of explosion. Even experts can get hurt when tinkering.


Thanks for reading, hope it helps!

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