What is a Lithium Ion Battery?
A lithium-ion battery contains lithium ions that move from the negative to the positive electrode to generate power, and back again when recharging. Lithium is a soft, silvery alkali metal that has many uses. It’s made into alloys with aluminum and magnesium, and used in numerous industries, including aircraft and transportation.
It’s also used to make special types of glass and glass ceramics, and as lithium bromide in air conditioning and industrial drying systems. In the medical industry, lithium carbonate is used to treat manic depression. Lithium is one of the lightest elements in the periodic table, and has one of the largest electrochemical potentials, which is why it makes a good metal for use in batteries. It can produce a lot of power in small volumes.
The first lithium-ion battery was invented in 1980, and in 1991, Sony Corporation was the first to manufacture and sell its version of battery, which was an improvement over previous development efforts. Soon it became clear that these batteries could operate many various products because of the immense power generated from a small cell.
Toys, e-cigarettes, medical devices, portable electric tools, e-bikes, computers, tablets, and many more electronic devices were developed with these batteries. However, as manufacturers continued to make improvements that allowed the batteries to produce more power, they also had to deal with the fact that they were becoming more reactive.
What's the Problem with Exploding Lithium Ion Batteries?
When lithium-ion batteries catch fire and/or explode, they do for 2 main reasons:
- Punctures, which typically occur when a person drops their phone can cause it to catch fire, and
- Breaks in the thin compacted battery material between cells, which can produce an internal short circuit, leading to swelling and phone battery explosions.
Why Are Lithium-Ion Batteries Dangerous?
The problem with phone batteries in many cases stems from manufacturers pushing the devices too far in order to maximize the amount of energy stored while minimizing their charging time and cost. Inside, the only thing that prevents a dangerous battery from short circuiting is a thin, porous strip of polypropylene which keeps the electrodes from touching.
The phone batteries are also filled with a flammable electrolyte, which can combust with heat and then flame out of control once oxygen hits it. Lithium-ion batteries also contain a liquid that is mixed with a skin burning compound which can cause severe burn injuries.
Samsung Galaxy Recall
In September 2016, Samsung suspended sales of its flagship smartphone, the Galaxy Note 7, in the U.S. and 9 other countries just 2 weeks after the device was launched amid dozens of reports of the phones overheating, catching fire, and/or exploding. An investigation revealed a manufacturing defect in the Note 7's batteries that had caused some of them to generate excessive heat, resulting in fires.
Samsung exchanged the phones for an updated model, which used batteries from a different supplier. However, after reports surfaced of the replacement phones catching fire, Samsung recalled the Galaxy Note 7 worldwide on October 10, 2016, and permanently ceased production of the device the next day.
What To Do If Your Phone Overheats
If your cell phone overheats, hisses or bulges, take the device out of your pocket and place it away from flammable materials. If possible, remove the battery and put it safely outside to let it burn out. Simply disconnecting the phone from its power source / charger may not be enough to stop it from overheating.
What was the Lithium-Ion Batteries Antitrust Litigation?
A class action lawsuit alleging that several large technology companies -- Samsung, TOKIN, Toshiba, Panasonic, Sanyo, and others -- conspired together to fix the prices of lithium-ion batteries. The case was open to anyone in the U.S. who bought products with lithium-ion batteries, such as laptop PCs, mobile phones, camcorders, and cordless power tools, between January 1, 2000 and May 31, 2011.
The deadline to file a claim as part of the Lithium-Ion Batteries Antitrust Litigation expired on July 19, 2019.
- Trianium Phone Lawsuit
- Dell Laptop Battery Lawsuits
- Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Discontinued Amid Fire Reports
- Samsung Galaxy Lawsuit in Florida
Exploding Lithium Ion Battery FAQ
What's the difference between lithium batteries and lithium-ion batteries?
The main difference is that a lithium-ion battery is rechargeable, whereas a lithium battery is not. There are a number of other differences as well, including the following:
- Lithium batteries (also called “lithium metal” batteries) offer a higher capacity than lithium-ion batteries
- Lithium batteries use lithium metal in its metallic form, while lithium-ion batteries use lithium compounds like lithium cobalt dioxide or lithium manganese oxide along with other materials
- Lithium batteries typically last longer than lithium-ion batteries
What are the advantages of lithium-ion batteries compared to other rechargeable batteries?
Lithium-ion batteries have become popular because they can store a lot of energy in a small, light space. This makes them perfect for today’s ever-shrinking technological gadgets. They provide higher voltages than other rechargeable batteries, delivering more power when needed, and discharge more slowly.
Are lithium-ion batteries allowed on airplanes?
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) states that lithium-ion batteries in cell phones, laptops, tablets, and headphones are allowed in carry-on baggage. When Samsung Galaxy 7 phones were exploding, there was a time when the airlines required all Samsung devices to be turned off in the cabin.
After Samsung updated their batteries, these phones were allowed to be used on flights again. The airlines also allow all these batteries in checked baggage, as long as they are installed in the gadgets. Extra, uninstalled lithium-ion batteries, including spare battery packs, are not allowed. Electronic cigarettes and vaporizers are also prohibited in checked baggage.
How do you dispose of a lithium-ion battery?
When you are finished with any device that contains a lithium-ion battery, it’s recommended that you recycle that device. Most places that sell the batteries will accept them back for recycling. Never burn the devices or the batteries as they could explode.
Are lithium-ion batteries safe to use?
Most lithium-ion batteries are safe. Millions of them are used every day in all types of technological gadgets without incident. Those that do cause problems are in the minority, and the problems can usually be traced back to a defective design or a manufacturing problem.
Do lithium-ion batteries explode in the heat?
Temperature can affect battery performance. Cold temperatures, for example, can slightly drop a battery’s capacity, potentially slowing the device’s response. It can also limit the charge rate. Hot temperatures, on the other hand, can increase degradation of the electrodes in the battery, which could make phone batteries explode.
A lithium-ion battery prefers normal temperatures of about 50 degrees to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. But the battery should not explode in standard high temperatures, such as those encountered during everyday life. It is designed to perform correctly under normal living conditions, and if it explodes, it’s usually because of a short-circuit inside the battery.
Can I File a Class Action Over Exploding Batteries?
Although Schmidt & Clark, LLP, is a nationally recognized class action firm, we have decided against this type of litigation when it comes to phone explosion lawsuits. Our lawyers feel that if there is a successful resolution to these cases, individual suits, not class actions will be the best way to get maximum payouts to our clients.
If you’ve been injured by a lithium ion battery explosion, we know you’ve suffered emotionally and economically, and want to work with you personally to obtain the maximum compensation for the damages caused by your injuries. Contact our law firm today to see if you have an exploding phone battery lawsuit.
T-Mobile Phone Explodes, Ending Pro Basketball Player’s Career, Lawsuit Says
A pro basketball player who claims that a cell phone manufactured by T-Mobile USA Inc. and LG Electronics exploded without warning in his hand, causing severe burns and other serious injuries so devastating that it ended his career, has filed a products liability lawsuit in Texas federal court.
The complaint was filed on behalf of Khouraichi Thiam, who had been playing professionally overseas since 2013 in countries like Saudi Arabia, Spain, Serbia, Bahrain and Luxembourg, as well as in his native Senegal.
"I was born in a family where the ball is bouncing," Thiam said. "Basketball is who I am."
The 31-year-old forward was even considering trying out for the NBA’s summer league, which started in July, but that dream was cut short when his phone exploded in his right hand while he was riding in a friend’s car on May 15.
"It just blew up," Thiam said, recalling the event. "It exploded with an electrical spark. The driver, who is my friend, was screaming. We all were screaming. I thought I was going to die. It was ... it was terrifying."
Thiam suffered second and third degree burns, as well as damage to his thumb, index finger and middle finger which resulted in "permanent and severe injuries" caused by manufacturing defects in the battery, according to the lawsuit.
"I'm a basketball player, and I work," he said. "This is how I provide for my family. It's scary right now, I don't know what I'm going to do."
Defendants in the suit include LG, T-Mobile and MetroPCS (a subsidiary of T-Mobile), which Plaintiff says are responsible for the exploding phone because they manufactured and sold the device in a defective and dangerous state.
The lawsuit is: Thiam v. T-Mobile USA Inc. et al., case number 4:19-cv-00633, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.
Related Article: iPhone Battery Explosion Lawsuit
Get an Exploding Phone Battery Lawsuit Evaluation With Our Lawyers
The Product Liability Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in exploding phone battery lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new injury and property damage cases in all 50 states.
Again, if you or a loved one has been injured by an exploding phone battery, or suffered property damage, you should contact our law firm immediately for a free review. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and our personal injury lawyers can help.