Batteries and the Thermal Runaway

People tend to ignore some things that make their lives easier and better only when those things start breaking or miss altogether. Batteries are one of the first examples hat come to mind, given the fact that without them, we couldn’t be part of this growing, constantly moving digital era.

Batteries became synonym for “mobile”, while “rechargeable” became a synonym for “efficiency”. So why should we bother with batteries? We dispose the primary cells and buy some more to fuel our remote controls or flashlights, while we plug the charger into a wall or computer to re-give them life.

Batteries and the Thermal Runaway

# One concern is that sometimes, batteries explode

In the tech world, the debate on lithium-ion exploding batteries isn’t even close to an end. There are a few documented cases involving exploding phones and that led to further discussions about their quality and the way people use them.

# Thermal runaway

 This is basically a physical process consisting in a energetic positive feedback loop that determines a system to get hot. The system gets hotter and hotter because of the loop and eventually reaches a point where it explodes. There’s also a chemical process involved: inside the battery, there’s cobalt oxide that suffers the thermal runaway by heating and self-heating until it catches fire and explodes. Although manganese oxide batteries are also in use and they present an increased heat resistance, they are not commonly used for our every day devices.

# What causes the thermal runaway?

There is a number of reasons, including the damage of the membrane that separates the positive from the negative poles, keeping a battery in an environment where temperature rises above 60 degrees Celsius, constant overcharging,  man interventions on the case or functions.

# What devices can be affected by these internal processes?

Virtually any Li-Ion battery – powered device you can think of: phones, laptops, tablets, electronic cigarettes, house hold appliances, cars and even jets. And while we got used to respect some safety rules for our gadgets in order to keep them functioning for as long as we can, some devices, which are still new and interesting to the end-user, come also with the challenge of wanting to learn how it works, how can it be used and what to do to keep it running.

# Some tips for the vapers

The vapers are those people who use electronic cigarettes and who identify themselves as being part of a large, strong and growing community. Even if the electronic cigarettes made their entry to the world only ten years ago, they caught he public’s attention and affection, thus becoming modern gadgets that also undergo constant improvements and technological developments. Today’s market offers a wide range of e-cigs, together with the possibility to recharge their batteries. And many of these batteries are Li-Ion.

Among vapers, there is a strong community of modders, the ones that modify their e-cigs or the ones that build themselves one from spare parts. The modders are though confronted with another group of vapers that go against such practices, invoking the dangers of meddling with sensible electronic equipment. Most of the times, they refer to the risk of making the battery explode.

So no matter if some chose to upgrade their e-cigs, while other just enjoy the experience the manufacturers provided them, accidents may still happen not out of lack of knowledge or negligence, but just because people often forget about safety measures. So here are some things to have in mind:

–          If you like vaping while working on your PC, don’t let your e-cig rest on the case. High temperatures are a risk for the battery.

–          Don’t overcharge just because you’re afraid the e-cig will die on you when you want to vape more.

–          After you charged the battery, give it a little time to rest.

–          And if you’re a modder just waiting to add some improved features on your e-cig, get accustomed first with the basic rules of physics and electronics

It’s not hard and it’s even common sense to protect the devices we care for and we constantly use. Just remember that a battery may end its life, may be easily broken and may also damage the device if not cared for properly.