Exploding laptop batteries

Discussion in 'Green Room' started by Taggert_LOA, Dec 24, 2003.

  1. Taggert_LOA

    Taggert_LOA Modding Addict Political User

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    During the past several months, you may have read a number of horror stories about exploding batteries in laptops and cell phones. One such story is interesting; two stories unusual. But when I read three stories, all in reputable news outlets, well, that's a trend.

    I spoke with a few experts in the field of electrochemistry who told me the danger is real.

    When lithium-ion batteries replaced nickel metal hydride, researchers increased the energy density (the amount of power they could pack into the space), eliminated the memory effect, and made batteries lighter. But lithium ion in most cases uses cobalt oxide, which has a tendency to undergo "thermal runaway," explains Joe Lamoreux, vice president of research and development at Valence Technology. "When you heat this material up, it [can] reach an onset temperature that begins to self-heat and progresses into fire and explosion."

    Because Valence claims to offer a safer alternative, I also spoke with Atakan Ozbek, director of energy research at Allied Business Intelligence, an independent technology research think tank, and to Sandrine Colson-Inam, general manager at Cell Expert North America, another independent technology research company. Ozbek and Colson-Inam confirmed what Lamoreux told me. Both also agree that Valence's phosphate technology, registered as Saphion Technology, is definitely safer.

    Explosions and fire happen "rarely" but as Lamoreux said this problem is a "tiger in a cage" just because of the sheer number of batteries out there. Battery problems that result in fire, lots of smoke, and explosions can be caused by a short circuit, excessive heat, overcharging, or abuse.

    Ozbek advises users to replace lithium-ion batteries every two to three years. Two years is the safest time period, as constant recharging weakens the battery.

    Colson-Inam advises users not to leave a laptop or cell phone in the trunk of a car where the temperature can easily go above 140-degrees Fahrenheit, the point at which a thermal runaway can start.

    Valence has come up with a new active material for lithium-ion batteries based on phosphates rather than oxides. These batteries behave like the traditional lithium-ion version but don't have a thermal runaway characteristic.

    Currently, Valence is shipping outboard devices — N-Charge, weighing just under three pounds — as backup batteries to notebooks. They also sell a 60-pound version, K-Charge, to the telecommunications industry as backup for big switches.

    The next generation from Valence will be small enough to use as a direct replacement for your current laptop battery and will be available next year.

    Long-term fuel cells that convert hydrogen and oxygen to electricity — don't ask me how — are a promising alternative. But fuel cells, according to the experts, cannot handle peak loads, not even the peak load generated in a cell phone. Therefore, the alternative is a fuel cell with battery backup to handle the peaks.

    The awful truth is that improvements in battery technology will be played out during the next five years or so. When battery technology can be taken no further, you will be getting maybe 15 percent to 20 percent more energy than you do now from your battery.

    Intel and Texas Instruments, among others, are probably our best hope for innovation, as they continue to spend millions of dollars on power-saving technologies to squeeze more life out of the same old battery.
     
  2. Taurus

    Taurus hardware monkey

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    good info.

    i plug my phone in the minute i get home and unplug it when i leave. the battery probably never goes under 90% charged. am i correct in thinking that preventing it from discharging over and over again is better for the bettery? this what i've always thought so i keep it as charged as conveniently possible.

    hydrogen is flammable. ignite it in air and the H2 and O2 combine to form H20 (water). the heat generated can then converted into another form of energy.
    i'd be amazed to see them work that process into a cellphone or laptop. :eek:
     
  3. paul2-0-0-2

    paul2-0-0-2 Moderator

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    Re: Re: Exploding laptop batteries

    Nar its better to let the battery use all the power then charge it for the full time.

    What your doin is gona make the battery go twice has quick and not last has long as it should.
     
  4. Taurus

    Taurus hardware monkey

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    Sacramento, CA
    i beg to differ. i think the opposite.

    all we need is someone to come along with some evidence or at least a good solid reason why one is right. we're too lazy.
    :p
     
  5. Zedric

    Zedric NTFS Guru Folding Team

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    Well acctually, Lithium batteries can be recharged at any time without loosing capacity afaik. It's the other rechargables (including NiMH I think) that needs to be emptied before recharge. I don't have anything to back it up though. :D
     
  6. scriptasylum

    scriptasylum Moderator

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    Des Moines,IA
    AFAIK, the only types of rechargable battery that should be totally discharged before recharging is NiCD and NiMH, although NiMH is not near as bad. Those are the ones with the memory effect. There is a way to "renew" NiCDs though so you can maybe get 50% more life out of it, but I won't explain that unless someone really wants to know.

    NiMH and Lithium Ion have relative advantages and disadvantages. Read this for some pretty good info...
     
  7. paul2-0-0-2

    paul2-0-0-2 Moderator

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    lol i was on about Li-Ion batterys should of said :confused: