This is what happens inside a battery right before it explores


From the fiery Note 7 debacles to exploding hoverboards, lithium-ion batteries aren’t doing so hot lately. A new study helps to explain how these popular power sources can turn into safety hazards.

In the paper, published in the Journal of the Electrochemical Society, scientists at the Canadian Light Source (CLS) synchrotron looked inside an overworked battery. In this case, they drained a battery until its voltage was below a critical level.

Toby Bond, Canadian Light Source Overcharging or overworking deforms the insides of a battery. (A) shows the inside of a battery before it was misused. (B) shows how misuse causes the original design defects to become even more warped. (C) highlights the areas where warping got worse.

When we overcharge or overheat lithium ion batteries, the materials inside start to break down and produce bubbles of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and other gases. Pressure builds up, and the hot battery swells from a rectangle into a pillow shape. Sometimes the phone involved will operate afterwards. Other times it will die. And occasionally—kapow!

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One thought on “This is what happens inside a battery right before it explores

  • December 14, 2016 at 11:59 pm

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