National News

They know their batteries will explode – but they sell them anyway

Reports of lithium-ion batteries bursting into flames have made headlines over the years – most recently with Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7.

The South Korean electronics giant spent $5.3 billion recalling the flagship smartphone, which became infamous at airports as passengers heard announcements for months that the Note 7 wouldn’t be allowed on-board.

But that transition to next-generation batteries likely is still likely several years away.

First brought to market by Sony in 1991, lithium- ion batteries have significant advantages over nickel cadmium in terms of energy density, rapid recharging and cost. That’s why they’re popular with electronics manufacturers.

Their chemistry and cell structure, however, present a potential risk of fire. Despite that, the electronics industry sells millions of them every year.

Fire retardant chemicals (which cause cancer) are sometimes included with battery packs to boost safety. It hasn’t worked. In 2013, Boeing was forced to ground all 787 Dreamliners for a few months following a battery fire. In 2006, millions of notebook PCs with Sony lithium-ion batteries were recalled after reported fires.

More recently, a recharging hoverboard has been linked to a house fire in Pennsylvania that killed a 3-year-old girl. A passenger on a flight from Beijing to Australia reported her headphones suddenly began sparking flames before being extinguished by the flight crew.

Making as much money as possible is the electronics industry’s only mission. Your safety doesn’t matter.

Read the whole story in the San Diego Union-Tribune

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Categories: National News

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