Reports of a woman’s headphones catching fire while on a flight from Bejing to Melbourne has once again heightened interest in lithium-ion battery safety. According to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, the incident occurred while the woman was sleeping mid-flight wearing battery-powered headphones.
Early in 2016, battery expert and ECS fellow, K.M. Abraham, talked to ECS about lithium-ion battery safety concerns amidst reports of exploding hoverboards. Below are some excerpts of what he had to say.
“It is safe to say that these well-publicized hazardous events are rooted in the uncontrolled release of the large amount of energy stored in lithium-ion batteries as a result of manufacturing defects, inferior active and inactive materials used to build cells and battery packs, substandard manufacturing and quality control practices by a small fraction of cell manufacturers, and user abuses of overcharge and over-discharge, short-circuit, external thermal shocks and violent mechanical impacts,” Abraham told ECS. “All of these mistreatments can lead lithium-ion batteries to thermal runaway reactions accompanied by the release of hot combustible organic solvents which catch fire upon contact with oxygen in the atmosphere.”