Causes of Safety Risk Associated With Lithium-Ion Batteries:
Battery manufacturers and manufacturers of battery-powered products design products to deliver specified performance characteristics in a safe manner under anticipated usage conditions. As such, failure (in either performance or safety) can be caused by poor execution of a design, or an unanticipated use or abuse of a product.
Passive safeguards for single-cell batteries and active safeguards for multi-cell batteries (such as those used in electric vehicles) have been designed to mitigate or prevent some failures. However, major challenges in performance and safety still exist, including the thermal stability of active materials within the battery at high temperatures and the occurrence of internal short circuits that may lead to thermal runaway.
What every battery user should know:
A major concern arises if static electricity or a faulty charger has destroyed the battery’s protection circuit. Such damage can permanently fuse the solid-state switches in an ON position without the user knowing. A battery with a faulty protection circuit may function normally but does not provide protection against abuse.
Another safety issue is cold temperature charging. Consumer grade lithium-ion batteries cannot be charged below 0°C (32°F). Although the packs appear to be charging normally, plating of metallic lithium occurs on the anode while on a sub-freezing charge. The plating is permanent and cannot be removed. If done repeatedly, such damage can compromise the safety of the pack. The battery will become more vulnerable to failure if subjected to impact, crush or high rate charging.
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