Every now and again we hear unfortunate stories about gadget batteries catching fire and even exploding (a term that is often used even for incidents that are less dramatic), sometimes causing harm to the unsuspecting user. While very rare, Samsung has been forced to recall its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones after concerns were raised that a small number of its handsets are shipping with defective batteries that may explode. Once again, dangerous lithium-ion batteries are back in the spotlight, but what actually causes a battery to go haywire?

Smartphones are cool. Explosions are cool. But combining the two? Not so cool. Sadly, though, exploding smartphones are a real thing. The risk may be fairly low, but that’s little consolation to those who’ve lost the use of their trousers – or worse… 

Among the many issues we deal with here at Team Know-how, exploding phones are, thankfully, the rarest! Generally speaking, it takes an extremely serious manufacturing fault – or, more likely, series of faults – for such a catastrophic failure to occur.

But when it does happen, the results are dramatic – and often make headlines around the world. Most recently, Samsung suffered serious damage to their reputation in 2016 after a number of their flagship Galaxy Note 7 handsets spontaneously combusted, prompting a global recall.

Thankfully, nobody was injured in those incidents. But that’s not always the case:

Causing explosions

Lithium-ion batteries seldom bulge or explode, but when they do, there are two leading causes. The first is a puncture, which might be caused by dropping your phone. A break in the thin compacted battery material between cells can produce to an internal short circuit, leading to swelling and potential explosions. Alternatively, cheaper batteries can sometimes accidentally feature rare microscopic metal particles inside that might come into contact with other parts of the battery cell, also leading to a short circuit. With the Galaxy Note 7, Samsung and various reports suggest that the issue is caused when the device is charging, which leads us to our second major cause – heat. Excessive heat can again cause again internal short circuit within the battery, by breaking down the internal cells. However, this only usually occurs at very high temperatures, unless the battery is faulty. Overcharging may also be an issue, which is caused by batteries receiving more current than they can safely handle, causing them to overheat.

Too much heat in one area of the battery can lead to “thermal runaway”.  This happens when an area of a battery can’t cool down quickly enough, resulting in a breakdown chain reaction that generates more and more heat. In other words, excess heat causes a reaction that accelerates the temperature increase. Eventually, this can lead to a fire or explosion. Typically, high-quality batteries will include safety features that can usually prevent this dangerous reaction from taking place. However, Samsung has stated that it has purchased battery packs from multiple providers, and perhaps some of these are more prone to failure than others.

Charging and Heat

There are a number of potential causes of excessive heat in and around the battery in a modern smartphone. The move towards fast charging technologies is now forcing additional current into lithium-ion batteries, and with every power transfer there is always some heat generation. The more power, the higher the potential heat. While some of this heat-loss will occur at the battery itself, some heat will also be lost in the fast charging power conversion and power management circuitry, which is usually located next to the battery. This could certainly cause more heat at one end of the battery than the other.

The processors inside today’s smartphones are also producing more heat than the handsets from 3 or 4 generations ago. While not usually nestled next to a battery, this could further add to the temperate inside a modern smartphone, making it more difficult for heat to transfer away from the battery area.

We should be clear though that Samsung has indicated that it is the batteries that are at fault in the Galaxy Note 7 and not any other part of the handset. It seems unlikely that the Galaxy Note 7 has be built in such a way that it is producing too much heat that makes it unsafe to stick a battery inside. Instead, it’s more likely that just a small percentage of the batteries that Samsung has purchased are not coping properly with the heat produced or current provided while charging. Either by not matching up to the required charging specifications or by simply coming from a faulty batch.

Protecting yourself

Without knowing exactly what is causing issues with Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7, we can’t say precisely how to avoid potential problems. However, there are some general tips to follow that can help protect yourself and your device from catastrophe. General warning signs that your battery is damaged and could explode include a hissing sound, popping, or swelling.

  • Stop charging your phone it if becomes too hot. Allow your phone to cool down before charging it again and make sure that you don’t cover your phone to let heat escape properly.
  • Stick to first-party chargers. Use the charger included in the box to make sure that your phone is receiving the optimal voltage and current. If you’re using a phone with a USB Type-C port or Quick Charge, it might be wise to stick with the cable that came in the box too.
  • Don’t charge your phone in bed. I know it’s very tempting to watch a video or read before you fall asleep, but you don’t want to roll over on your phone and have it overheat. Not to mention that leaving your phone under a pillow while it charges will cause it to heat up.
  • Be mindful of where you charge your phone. Avoid charging for long periods of time in really hot places, such leaving your phone on a car dashboard, next to a radiator, or in direct sunlight on hot days.

If you do happen to notice your battery swelling, unplug your phone and remove the battery, but only if the battery is user removable. Don’t attempt to dispose of the battery or device in the trash. Always get rid of your batteries at authorized disposal facilities or some electronics retailers, such as Best Buy, that offer battery recycling services. If your battery and/or device is damaged as a result of a swollen or exploded battery, take your device to the retailer that you purchased it from or get in contact with the manufacturer. A replacement battery or device will usually be issued, especially if you have a warranty.

The main offender: faulty hardware

When a smartphone (or tablet, or any other high-tech kit) goes bang, it’s almost always down to one faulty component: the battery. After all, that’s where your phone draws its energy from – and an explosion is, as Wikipedia handily reminds us, “a rapid increase in volume and release of energy in an extreme manner”!

Here’s the basic version: all batteries have both ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ plates, which are usually kept separated by a non-conductive material. But if anything metallic happens to join the two plates – for example, if the battery is pierced by a metal object – then a short circuit is created. Short circuits, by their nature, create an incredible amount of heat, light and other energy – and with the relatively large quantity of energy stored in the typical smartphone battery, this results in a serious explosion.

Now, modern smartphones use lithium-ion batteries which are, generally speaking, very safe. But if they’re overcharged without adequate protection, metallic lithium deposits can form between the plates, creating a short circuit – and that can be a recipe for a big bang, followed swiftly by calls to the fire brigade and your insurance provider.Now, this is remarkably rare. These days, practically all lithium ion batteries have safety devices to prevent overcharging – but even with the best protection in the world, occasional manufacturing errors slip through the cracks.

What makes these errors particularly dangerous is that they don’t cause immediate failure. Generally, it isn’t until the battery gets warm that things get dangerous – and unfortunately for us, our phones tend to be at their warmest when we’re using them! And it’s not always necessarily the battery itself that’s at fault. Anything that causes the battery to dramatically overheat can cause a catastrophic failure – including knock-off chargers and dubious third-party accessories. If one of those overheats and conducts that heat to the battery, a big bang can often result – indeed, this is far more likely than a manufacturing fault in a genuine phone battery.

Reasons for Smartphones Exploding

Highlighted by the explosive fate of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, your smartphone’s battery is the primary cause of any misfire or explosion caused by your phone. Here are certain reasons why batteries contribute to much of the smartphone misfire incidents.

Bigger capacity batteries

 

It is true that we are today looking at batteries as big as 5,000 mAh fitted in a 5-inch phone. This increases the chance of a misfire as the bigger capacity batteries are more tightly packed. So a smartphone with a moderate battery size is less likely to cause a misfire.

Tighter packaging

 

Not only battery capacity but the battery’s packing also determines the fate of your smartphone. While the battery capacity needs to be kept ample for a full day of usage, the smartphones are becoming smaller. While there is room for the battery to get sufficient ventilation, the phone may not be properly accommodating the battery at times.

Exposure to heat

While advancements sometimes lead to bad things like misfires, they are not the only reason. Sometimes if you’ve left your phone exposed to open heat like near the stove or in your car’s dashboard, there are chances that it may catch fire. While there are safety stages in most of the phones, some manufacturers do not pay much heed to them, hence, some phones may explode when exposed to heat.

Overcharging or third-party chargers

One of the major reasons behind modern-day smartphone fires is the use of third-party chargers. For fast and safe charging, manufacturers have synced the phone and charger to work to deliver an effective output. When you use a third-party charger on your smartphone, the output may not be balanced and may result in battery explosion or misfire.

Indicators that your smartphone may catch fire

While the above reasons are why your smartphone may catch fire, these indicators let you know if there are chances of a fire. If your phone is frequently showing these signs, we recommend you to get it checked to prevent any problems.

Overheating

While heating has always been there in some phones, overheating can be considered as a sign of a decaying battery. If your phone heats while charging or heavy usage, it may be a sign of damage either on the battery front or on the phone’s processing.

Battery Drain

 

One of the common signs of a decaying battery life is battery drain. If your phone is unusually slow at charging or discharging rapidly, you might want to get it checked. A sudden battery drain and even slower charging may indicate a decaying battery which may need replacement.

Overheat indication by your phone

 

Yes, your Android device tells you if the temperatures are above normal. In case your phone is overheating and gives a ‘critical temperature’ warning often, there are chances that it may end up in a misfire. Explosions are mostly averted by the safety lining on the batteries but a fire is imminent if your phone keeps overheating every now and then.

The most important thing is not to worry too much: while dramatic, exploding smartphone incidents are incredibly rare – and by following a few sensible guidelines concerning third-party accessories, you can reduce the risk even further.But it can never be entirely eliminated for as long as we’re using lithium-ion batteries. For that reason, it’s crucial to keep a close eye on all of your battery-powered devices for any suspicious bulging or dramatic overheating.

If you have any question regarding this topics then feel free to write below in the comment box.

References : www.teamknowhow.com | https://gadgetstouse.com |www.androidauthority.com