SEP 26, 2017 5:13 AM PDT

The Chemistry in Battery Explosions


The stories of exploding cell phone batteries have been in the news for about the last year. The problem is not limited to cell phones either. Hoverboards, those super cool lithium-ion powered scooters, are also under scrutiny. Some models of phones have been discontinued and certain brands have even been banned by airlines, because of the potential danger they cause. What's causing this issue? Is it the caustic chemicals in the batteries or another issue?

Batteries work when electrodes travel from a negatively charged anode to a positively charged cathode and creating energy. Lithium is what the cathodes contain. While these components are lightweight and efficient, they can also be volatile. The spontaneous combustion that has happened with some lithium-ion batteries is called thermal runaway. Essentially anything that gets that hot, and is near oxygen, can combine to make quite a flame out. Lab tests have shown that temperatures can rise as high as 850 degrees Celsius. Scientists, including John Goodenough, the inventor of the original lithium-ion battery, have come up with a better design that is safer, less volatile and not as prone to catching your pants, or anything else, on fire. His fix includes using glass as an electrolyte to spur the charge, eliminating the dangerous alkyl carbonates in current lithium-ion batteries
About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
You May Also Like
OCT 02, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
A New Way of Building Houses: 3-D Printing with Clay
OCT 02, 2020
A New Way of Building Houses: 3-D Printing with Clay
Our ancestors had a long history of building dwelling structures using clay and plant-based fibrous materials. Even thes ...
OCT 07, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Discovery of Phosphine on Venus - What Does It Mean?
OCT 07, 2020
Discovery of Phosphine on Venus - What Does It Mean?
A Nature Astronomy paper in September, titled "Phosphine gas in the cloud decks of Venus", has led t ...
OCT 09, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Why the Sun's Atmosphere is Hotter than its Surface
OCT 09, 2020
Why the Sun's Atmosphere is Hotter than its Surface
Researchers have found evidence of nanojets (bright, thin lights) in the solar atmosphere, also known as the corona. The ...
NOV 06, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
The Most Powerful X-ray Source On Earth
NOV 06, 2020
The Most Powerful X-ray Source On Earth
Located inside the Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Z Pulsed Power Facility (or Z Machine) i ...
JAN 08, 2021
Neuroscience
Brain Scans Show Why Comedy-News Shows are More Memorable
JAN 08, 2021
Brain Scans Show Why Comedy-News Shows are More Memorable
Comedy-news shows such as those by Trevor Noah, John Oliver, and Samantha Bee on the rise and are especially popular amo ...
MAY 13, 2021
Plants & Animals
Brood X Cicadas Are Here - Help Scientists Track Them
MAY 13, 2021
Brood X Cicadas Are Here - Help Scientists Track Them
Download this smartphone app to help document one of North America's natural wonders.
Loading Comments...