Promoting rigorous testing to stop Li-ion batteries exploding
With reports of exploding Li-ion batteries becoming more common in our papers, SGS is reminding device manufacturers of the importance of maintaining rigorous testing and auditing procedures to protect their products and reputation.
On 31st January, 2018, the Li-ion batteries in a cell phone charger pack burst into flames on a Russian aeroplane. The fire ignited a chair, causing thick smoke to fill the cabin, but luckily no injuries. The US Federal Aviation Authority reported 46 similar incidents in 2017, an increase of fifteen on the previous year.
While no single cause of ignition has been recognised for these incidents, common links have been identified. Firstly, many of these cases involved back-up batteries, now readily available through third-party operatives on the internet. Secondly, they have raised questions over manufacturing standards and quality controls.
Li-ion batteries must be manufactured and transported under the most robust quality control measures to ensure they are not contaminated and are stored and shipped at the proper temperatures. In addition, they must be independently tested to ensure they comply with relevant safety standards and are certified for use with the intended device.
In the case of online purchases of back-up batteries, it can be difficult to prove the correct monitoring has taken place. Even when the battery is purchased with the device, it is often not manufactured in-house. Instead, the device manufacturer uses a battery supplier. The problem is, any external supply chain increases the chances of poor quality assurance or even counterfeit goods.
To mitigate themselves against the risk of poor quality goods, SGS advises device manufacturers to follow these protocols:
- Use only certified cells and batteries. Li-ion battery cells should be certified to UL 1642 & UL 62133 and Li-ion battery packs should be certified to UL 2054 & UL 62133.
- Ensure due diligence is followed and perform safety and protocol testing on the battery and in your device. Make sure battery is right for the device.
- Perform regular on-site facility and process inspections on Li-ion battery manufacturer/supplier to reduce risk of suppliers changing materials and processes without notifying the customer. Changes will compromise the integrity of the battery and the device it is fuelling.
Li-ion batteries are now a regular part of our daily lives. Device and battery manufacturers therefore need to take the initiative and find ways to ensure the Li-ion batteries in our products are safe. At the same time, end-users can follow some simple steps to help protect themselves and their property. These include, not overcharging the battery, avoiding aftermarket/uncertified chargers, cords or batteries with devices and keeping Li-ion batteries away from coins, keys or other metal objects.
Stakeholders are advised to check their Li-ion batteries are right for the device and ensure the correct quality assurance and safety measures are in place to protect future supplies.
SGS has a network of five battery laboratories around the globe – Atlanta (USA), Taipei (Taiwan), Munich (Germany), Shenzhen and Shanghai (China). They have the largest cell and battery testing capability in the world and offer testing against over 34 battery specific standards within their ISO 12025 scope, and twelve battery specific standards under their IECEE CB Scheme. To help device manufacturers they also offer on-site auditing services to guarantee the quality of the batteries being supplied.