While “the vast majority” of lithium-ion batteries will never malfunction, lithium itself “is highly combustible and batteries made with it are subject to ‘thermal runaway’,” which can be triggered by damage — or by bad design. An anonymous reader quotes the San Jose Mercury News:
Battery and electronics manufacturers take numerous steps to try to mitigate such dangers… But while the industry has tried to make lithium-ion batteries safer, ‘the technology itself isn’t foolproof,’ said Ravi Manghani, director of energy storage research at GTM Research… And there’s reason to think that the problem could get worse before it gets better. Consumer demand for devices that are ever more powerful and longer lasting has encouraged manufacturers to make batteries that can hold even more charge. To do that, they typically pack the battery cells closer and closer together…
Since June of this year, educational toy company Roylco recalled 1,400 light tables designed for kids… Razor, Swagway and some eight other manufacturers recalled a total of 500,000 hoverboards. And HP and Sony between them recalled more than 42,000 notebook computers. All for similar reasons — lithium-ion batteries that either had caught fire or which have posed a fire hazard… Other notorious examples include the several different Tesla Model S’s that have caught fire, typically after crashes compromised their battery packs, and Sony’s wide-scale recall a decade ago of the batteries that powered its Vaio and other laptop computers.
In a related story, Samsung’s recall of their Note 7 is now expected to cost $5.3 billion.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.