Why Do Mobile Batteries Explode?
As I am writing this piece, following the increased incidents of fire and explosion of Samsung Galaxy Note 7, that was touted as prime rival to iPhones, Samsung has stopped production and sales of this device and withdrawn the model. In September 2016, the company had recalled 250,000 devices after a number of the units spontaneously burst into flames. The battery was the culprit. 
 
As I mentioned in one of my previous articles, every mobile-user wants to squeeze the maximum out of the device’s battery. Earlier, users were concerned if the battery would last for a day or not. Now, they want the battery to get charged in a few minutes. This desire to give customers the ability charge fast, and some compromises on quality, is what led to freak fire and explosion.
 
Why did the device burst into flames and explode, in some cases? As per reports, the main issue was about a weak physical barrier between two nodes in the battery. This led to sparks and fire and, in some cases, explosion of the battery. So what exactly is a battery and how can it catch fire?
 
Almost all mobile devices use lithium-ion batteries. There are two electrodes, or electrical conductors, inside the battery placed on opposite sides. One called cathode holds positively charged ions and other known as anode, holds negatively charged ones. Cathode is filled with lithium. When we charge the battery, lithium ions move from cathode to anode. The opposite takes place when the battery is discharging. To help the ions move freely from one side to the other, there are chemicals or electrolytes, in the battery. Separators are inserted between cathode and anode, to keep them away and curb redirecting energy to electrolytes. In Note 7, the separators were flawed and allowed the two electrodes to touch, leading to fire and explosion, in some cases.
 
Nowadays, several manufactures are allowing overcharging of the battery, either knowingly or unknowingly. As you may be aware, most batteries are designed to automatically prevent overcharging. However, sometimes, there may be some fault in the circuits which may lead to battery overcharging and heating. 
 
Add to this, the fast-charging phenomenon. What happens when you are fast charging your mobile? In this case, the charger tries to push more current into the battery. If you are not using the recommended charger (and cable) provided by the device manufacturer, this can lead the battery to freak accidents. 
 
Some manufacturers also try to increase voltage so that the batteries can store more energy. For this, they add elements like nickel to lithium. However, voltage is a force and more voltage is more likely to combine electrolytes and make them catch fire. 
 
What we can do is take precautions while using and charging the mobile handset. This includes keeping your handset cool and checking regularly whether the device is becoming hot while charging or when in use. Never use a sub-standard charger for your handset. Also, refrain from using a device if there the battery is swollen. Use the battery prescribed for your handset and buy it only from an authorised, or authentic, shop.  
 
Remember, technology in battery manufacture is advancing continuously but not at the speed of thought and our desires like lightning-fast charging and longer battery life. Hope the manufacturers also remember this and do not pander to our desires!
Comments
k.mohanarangam k.mohanarangam
6 years ago
good &Vivid xplanation and information for
users who not familiar with mobile battery technology.
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