Of late, a new item has been the subject of jokes on social media and late-night talk shows. That item is the lithium ion battery within Samsung’s latest line of phones. From a vehicle going up in flames after a phone was left charging in the car to airlines banning certain types of Samsung phones from being brought onboard, the problem appears to be quite serious. In fact, it’s been series enough that Samsung has issued a massive global recall of its Galaxy Note 7 due to the battery issues that could cause the battery, and therefore the phone, to spontaneously combust.
Samsung is the company that’s taking the heat right now for this problem, but the truth is that it’s not a problem limited to Samsung phones, and as consumers continue to demand longer battery life and smaller phone profiles, it probably won’t be the last. Both HP and Sony have recalled some of their computer batteries for similar problems, and hoverboards were the brunt of the jokes a while back as well.
So what’s the problem with these batteries that’s causing them to ignite? The answer is in the design of the battery.
Too Much Power in a Small Package
Lithium-ion batteries are popular for consumer electronics because of the high power and small size that they offer. Yet when you squeeze a ton of power into a small battery, you have a greater risk of a fire with even the slightest defect. This is because today’s lithium-ion batteries use solvent-based electrolytes, which are highly flammable. When something in the battery goes wrong, CNN reports
, the battery can actually cause the electrolytes to boil, and this causes the fire.
What makes this problem even scarier for consumers is the fact that lithium ion batteries can go from safe to exploding in just a fraction of a second
. With no warning, consumers have no real way of knowing if their devices are going to be the next ones to go up in flames.
The Risk is Rare
While the phones that have exploded are getting quite a bit of media attention, the reality is that the risk is pretty rare. In fact, some have estimated that only one out of every ten million lithium-ion batteries will fail. In the case of Samsung, however, the problem was a manufacturing error in the batteries, which caused a larger number of phones to have issues. Still, even with this, there were only 35 batteries catching fire
which had been reported at the time of the recall, and this was out of the 2.5 million phones that the company shipped, so far.
No Alternative Exists
So what is the answer to this problem? While the risk is rare, it is a risk. Do consumers really want to carry around a device in their back pocket that could spontaneously explode?
The problem is that there is no alternative to the technology in the lithium-ion battery at this time. In order to keep extending battery life while keeping the profile of devices small, lithium-ion batteries are the only current solution.
So what is a consumer to do? No real answer has been given, except to avoid cheap knock-off products from China
. But, when Samsung and other trusted manufacturers are having problems, the only real solution is to proceed with caution with any device that has this technology, and to pay attention to recalls when they occur.
If you have any questions about this topic or if you are one of the unfortunate consumers who has experienced an injury or fire caused by a lithium-ion battery, the Johnson Law Firm can help. We have years of experience representing the interests of Kentuckians, and we can help you. Based in Pikeville, KY, we proudly serve communities throughout the Bluegrass State. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, contact us by calling 606-437-4488 or by filling out our online form