Explosions, fires caused by lithium-based batteries spread across additional types of devices

posted on:
January 5, 2017

William Sutton

The holidays are past, but some of the gifts exchanged during the season could give their new owners more than they bargained for thanks to the growing problem with lithium-based batteries.

Days after Christmas, an Arizona couple returned home to find one of their Christmas gifts in flames, according to KNXV-TV in Phoenix, Ariz. The family’s new Vivitar Drone exploded while it’s lithium-polymer battery was charging. The explosion sent flames racing up the wall and filled the house with smoke. Vivitar, the drone’s manufacturer, believes the incident is isolated, but will investigate to determine the cause.

According to Battery University, conventional lithium-ion and lithium-polymer batteries are essentially the same except for their architecture. Conventional batteries have a rigid exterior case that presses electrodes together to create energy. The cells of the polymer batteries are normally enclosed in a pouch or come in a flexible foil-type casing. Their laminated flat sheets do not require compression to create energy. They also share common safety issues; however, the polymer battery packaging may be less durable and more dangerous.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) warns consumers to stop using the battery if they notice any of the following:

  • Odor.
  • Change in color.
  • Too much heat.
  • Change in shape.
  • Leaking.
  • Odd noises.

Battery experts recommend using only the charger that came with the battery to reduce the possibility of explosions, keeping the battery away from flammable surfaces and objects, and never leaving a charging battery unattended. Experts also recommend placing polymer batteries in a fireproof bag while they charge – a tip most consumers do not know.

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If you would like more information about lithium-ion batteries, you can contact Will Sutton, a lawyer in our Toxic Torts Section. He can be reached at 800-898-2034 or by email at William.Sutton@beasleyallen.com.

Battery University
National Fire Protection Association
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