As I’ve written about before, Li-ion batteries are definite dangers. Today in my newsletter, I got two more articles — one from yesterday, one from today — that further prove the point.
The first (I’ll go by chronology) details an IBM lawsuit against an apparently Web-only company that has been manufacturing and selling fake laptop batteries bearing the IBM logo. The batteries are flammable, and are of quite low quality. IBM seeks millions of dollars in damages from trademark infringement and lost profits, among other things.
The highlight here is that fake batteries are everywhere. Lithium-ion technology comes from hundreds or thousands of different companies, only a few of which are really any good. The bad ones pose a severe safety risk to consumers. They can catch fire, overheat, explode, leak, or do any number of dangerous things. It’s not a simple task to make a Li-ion battery that works, much less one that is safe. I think there should be stricter regulations in place, and that certification by a reliable (perhaps government, though reliability is never a guarantee) organization should be required before batteries made by any given company can be sold. Hey, I just value my life.
The second article tells of a New Zealand man’s cell phone battery, and how it exploded into flames while charging in the middle of the night. He says he was awoken around 0130 by a loud bang, and got out of bed to find his cell phone on the carpet, burning. According to the article, this is the second report of an exploding cell phone this week; another report Wednesday had information on a South Korean worker who “may have” died as a result of a cell phone battery in his shirt pocket.
These two incidents again highlight the danger contained in lithium-ion battery technology. I personally like the batteries, and never want to go back to NiMH (Nickel-Metal Hydride) or NiCd (Nickel-Cadmium) again, as they have lower energy densities; but manufacturers need to find a way to reliably prevent these things from happening. I don’t particularly care if the odds are 1/1,000 or 1/1,000,000,000,000; there shouldn’t be any question that the battery in my hand, in my pocket, or on my lap is safe and won’t explode on me.