Lithium ion batteries - safety.

  • meldrewreborn's Avatar
    Level 91
    A while ago I posted about these and @Han_EONNext asked a question that I haven't got around to answering. Please note that Lithium-ion batteries are not the same as lithium only batteries which do not have the issues detailed below.

    The basic position in that these are pretty safe bits of kit if properly handled and cared for. One of the factors is that lithium-ion technology doesn't seem to scale up very well - so while there are large capacity units they are in essence comprised of many (maybe hundreds or even thousands) of smaller individual batteries connected together.

    Lithium -ion batteries, if damaged can catch fire and burn fiercely, causing other adjacent cells to catch fire and then explode violently. Damage can be cause by poor handling, and overcharging. But spotting a damaged unit is very difficult. The risks of problem rise with the battery capacity as only one failure in a cell can destroy the whole battery and cause a fire which can spread quickly to anything surrounding it.

    Fires are comparatively rare but on the increase - mainly because the growth in the use of these batteries is so large. If you have say an electric scooter or bike, the safest place to charge it would be out in the garden away from anything flammable. Not all can do that. It would be prudent not to leave a charging battery alone - and certainly not while asleep. And of course make sure your home insurance is up to date.

    Some batteries have detection systems within them which aim to shut off charging if a problem develops, but how they help if the battery isn't being charged but has suffered physical damage I'm not so sure. On aeroplanes they now carry fireproof bags or boxes to contain an item should one start smouldering mid air.

    All I can say is treat these items with respect. Even our mobile phones are problematic. I had two old iPhone 5 phones where the battery in both (which is in a strong plastic sealed enclosure) swelled up, bending the screen up away from the back housing. The phones were not damaged but they were old. .Replacement batteries fixed the problem, but then how do you dispose of a problematic lithium-ion battery safely.? Certainly not in your normal rubbish and not in the recycling bin.

    Be aware of the issues and act accordingly.
    Last edited by DebF_EONNext; 24-05-23 at 19:05. Reason: removed featured thread
    Current Eon Next and EDF customer, ex Zog and Symbio. Don't think dual fuel saves money and don't like smart meters. Chronologically Gifted. If I offend let me know by private message, but I’ll continue to express my opinions nonetheless.
  • 32 Replies

  • Bennie_R97's Avatar
    The OSHA (Occupational Safety Health Administration) created an information sheet with how to prevent incidents and being safe on how to use these batteries.

    Here's a summary of what I have found:

    • When replacing batteries and chargers for an electronic device make sure is done in accordance with the manufacturer guidelines.

    • Remove lithium-powered devices and batteries from the charger once they are fully charged.

    • Store lithium batteries and devices in dry, cool locations.

    • Avoid damaging lithium batteries and devices. Inspect them for signs of damage, such as bulging/cracking, hissing, leaking, rising temperature, and smoking before use, especially if they are wearable.

    • If batteries are damaged, remove them from service, place in fire resistant container (e.g., metal drum) with sand or other extinguishing agent, and dispose in accordance with local, state, and federal regulations. Contact a local battery recycling center for disposal instructions.

    I do agree with you @meldrewreborn. Those kinds of batteries can be really dangerous. Do you have any ideas what they could replace them with? I have done a little bit of googling and apparently Lithium could be replaced with Aluminium. It is cheap and recyclable.
    @wizzo227 what do you think ?
    Last edited by DebF_EONNext; 24-05-23 at 19:04. Reason: removed featured thread
  • meldrewreborn's Avatar
    Level 91

    Good advice you've listed there. The "other extinguishing agent" would of course not be water!

    But if it were cost effective to use alternative m battery materials they would be widely used already.

    The only other thing I'd add is that people should think carefully about where you charge these batteries inside a property. For instance if there is only one exit route (a flat for example) it wouldn't be prudent to charge the item near the front door, because any fire would block your escape route.
  • WizzyWigg's Avatar
    Level 80
    As we are coming up to the holiday season it might be worth looking at what batteries we can pack in our baggage and what we can carry in hand luggage. This link has a good section under 'Batteries':
  • retrotecchie's Avatar
    Level 92
    As we are coming up to the holiday season...

    Blimey, is it nearly Christmas again already?!!! Where's the year gone?
    Don't shoot me, I'm only the piano player. I DON'T work for or on behalf of EON.Next, but am willing to try and help if I can. Not on mains gas, mobile network or mains drainage. House heated almost entirely by baby dragons.
  • wizzo227's Avatar
    Level 21
    Bad material choice I'm afraid. There are a few ways of getting electrical energy from the stored chemical potential energy of metallic aluminium, and all of them are irreversible corrosion. It is remarkable that some materials such as lead plate and lithium do keep themselves smoothed out when being recharged. Far more usual with quite a variety of metals and electrolytes is that any slight spike of metal is slightly ahead so catches slightly more metal at the spike than at the valley, resulting in intriguing but unhelpful shapes when trying to electroplate or recharge. See for example for the dendritic polycrystalline formation of silver metal in silver nitrate.
    apparently Lithium could be replaced with Aluminium.
    In various chemistry exploits, I often got Aluminium to make squishy wet white gloop instead of any sort of 'nice' chemical which might turn back to metal if recharged. I think that having a valency of 3 in Aluminium allows for complicated cross-linked hydroxides, best described as 'gloop'. Lithium, being The lightest of the metals is likely to remain your best battery material. Density of Lithium is 0.53g/cc Density of Aluminium is 2.7 g/cc Batteries contain other stuff too. One atom of metallic Aluminium is worth more energy than one atom of metallic Lithium, but in the end the ability to recharge lithium batteries as clean flat electroplated sheets is an unusual and useful feature which you cannot do without.
    Last edited by wizzo227; 10-05-23 at 18:25. Reason: unusual spelling
  • meldrewreborn's Avatar
    Level 91

    I love it when you explain things in such easy to understand language! 😂😂😂
  • wizzo227's Avatar
    Level 21

    I love it when you explain things in such easy to understand language! 😂😂😂
    What a good thing I deleted some digression onto the astronomical pressure requirements to get metallic hydrogen. For energy density of fuel, there is nothing better, but perhaps in a post about battery fire hazards, consider the risks of carrying around batteries made with at a pressure in excess of 250,000 atmospheres. That should blow up instantly.
  • meldrewreborn's Avatar
    Level 91

    Perhaps mining the centre of Jupiter will solve everything then in the future! Should be easy enough!