Don’t Blame the Batteries: How Users Cause Smartphone Battery Explosion

Currently, lithium-ion batteries remain one of the top choices in high-level energy storage. Li-ion batteries are used as power sources for electric vehicles, airplanes, laptops, hover boards, digital cameras, and smartphones. Benchmarkminerals.com, a price data analysis company focusing on the energy storage industry, includes lithium in the list of “specially engineered raw materials” that are irreplaceable and is an important component of modern technologies.

Experts have proven the efficiency and safety of Li-ion batteries. In fact, a quality Li-ion cell’s chance of failing is less than one in ten million. However, decades after it was first released in the market, there are still reports of explosions. The biggest cases, for example, are the Boeing 787 Li-ion battery overheat in 2017 and the explosion of millions of Samsung Note7 units globally in 2016.

Exploding batteries of this type are apparently common in smartphones and are usually a result of unit mishandling.

Li-Ion Battery Puncture

Li-ion batteries have protective cases. But, the battery’s mechanism and chemical assembly may be damaged when a user drops a smartphone. Users usually have their screens checked and fixed after a drop. It is also recommended having the battery assessed for possible swelling or deformation.

When a phone is dropped the Li-on battery may be punctured. As lithium is highly reactive to oxygen and water, exposure caused by the puncture can lead to smoke exhaustion and, in some cases, explosion.

Thermal Runaway

Another leading cause of smartphone battery explosion is overheating. A phone overheats when used in long phone calls, too many simultaneous tasks, and in processing rigorous visual data (mobile games, high-quality videos). It is discouraged to use smartphones in hot environments and to overcharge them. An incompatible or low-quality charger may prompt a battery to overheat.

Overheating often leads to a thermal runaway, in which the chemical energy stored in the battery converts to thermal energy. In turn, the battery catches fire.

Accidents involving Li-ion batteries are usually caused by faulty manufacturing and irresponsible usage. Some ways to prevent battery explosion include: 1) buying only quality Li-on batteries from reliable suppliers and 2) avoiding overheating and overcharging the battery. An accident can usually be predicted when a Li-on battery is bulging or excessively hot. In that case, discontinue the use of the unit to stop trouble before it begins.