Samsung announced this week that its internal investigation revealed lithium-ion batteries, in fact, caused overheating, fires and explosions of Galaxy Note 7 smartphones and their replacement devices. As Righting Injustice reported last fall, Samsung recalled the phones and halted production of the line altogether after a number of the devices exploded.
Chemistry and engineering professors from the University of Cambridge, University of California Berkeley and Stanford University assisted with the company’s investigation. According to Forbes, there were problems with batteries used in both the original Note 7 and a replacement device, which were from different series and manufactured by different companies.
According to Righting Injustice, Samsung “tested more than 200,000 smartphones and 30,000 lithium-ion batteries and found different defects in each of the two kinds of batteries used in the Note 7 phones.”
The battery used in the original Note 7, referred to as Battery A, was too large for the phone’s casing. This caused what Samsung called a “slight electrode deflection.” The deflection, explained Forbes, allowed contact between the positive and negative electrodes. This is one of the situations Beasley Allen has described as causing the batteries to overheat, catch fire and explode.
Similarly, Battery B, used in the replacement devices, experienced “abnormal welding burs” or uneven surfaces on the positive electrode. This manufacturing defect led to a short circuit and direct contact between the positive and negative electrodes, resulting in the same outcomes – overheating, fire and explosions.
Forbes quoted tech analyst Patrick Moorhead saying, “This is an industry wake-up call for sure…” and noted that Samsung is working to improve lithium-ion battery safety, and will implement a new eight-step battery review process.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission praised Samsung for the steps it took to determine the cause of the phone fires and explosions. The agency says it will work with Samsung in its efforts to improve the industry, according to c|net. It will “help reexamine the standards for smartphones batteries and will review the research and regulatory activities in other countries” among other data.
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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.