Can your Laptop Battery Really Explode?

Exploding Laptop Battery 250x174 Can your Laptop Battery Really Explode?

Exploding Laptop Battery

The story of Exploding laptops is not a new one. The Lithium battery in your notebook expands to the point where it breaks the encasement. Dell, Sony and IBM ended up recalling a series of batteries to prevent computer loss.

Today scientists announced they had made a solid, non-flammable polymer to replace the liquid electrolyte that is used to make the batteries. The science is new, and wont see the light of the public eye for 3 to 5 years, mainly because the polymer needs work to hold a longer charge. However, will this help the laptop not explode?

A few years ago I dealt with an issue in desktops where they would either start acting quirky or stop working altogether. The result was what they called “Exploding Caps” – the Capacitors in the machines would expand due to faulty manufacturing. Capacitors are a vital part in most electronics because they store energy to push it out in the needed areas of the machine. They are in your desktop, laptop, Digital camera and most other electronics. Heck, there are even capacitors in your car.

Bottom line is that we take things for granted. We feel safe putting a device that pushes 19 Volts and holds many harmful chemicals on the lap. We put a potential grenade next to our eye. We even get into a large steel contraption and turn the key hoping it won’t go up in flames.

Exploding Batteries on YouTube

There is a video on YouTube simulating an exploding laptop (basically put together with help so it could explode). The initial explosion might not hurt, but if you don’t take immediate action, major damage will ensue. Here is why: A laptop battery is comprised of “Cells”. Usually there are 3-4 cells in a battery. Once one cell causes a breech, The other cells will eventually follow.

Think of it like the scene in “Back to the future 3″. When 3rd log ignited, it causes the fire to get so hot it incinerates the train’s engine. When that chain reaction happens, the laptop gets hotter and more dangerous. Fire can get up to 1000 degrees or more, simply because you are dealing with an electrical AND chemical fire.

Now imagine you using your laptop: Is it sitting on your lap right now? Are your hands resting right above the battery? The initial cell explosion would most likely burn, but you would have enough time to react and get away from the machine.

Will that change my mind on using this device? Not really. However, it will make me more aware of how I use the machine.

Leaving the Notebook on

I still find it funny how some people leave their laptops on 24/7. Some have it constantly plugged into the wall, which can cause undo strain on the battery and ultimately cause it to fail.

I also see people close the lid, unplug it, then put it in their bag so they can go home. All because they don’t want to turn it back on, so it spends twenty minutes or more in a bag during a commute. Not to mention the sidetracking you can do, like go to the store on the way home to pick up a gallon of milk and bread.

So will the laptop explode?

The reality is the average laptop will not explode. The battery would need to have a natural or personally-made defect in it to begin with (like a drop of the machine).

You never know, though. An aborigine could come out of the brush and shoot an arrow directly in the battery causing a breech and sending your laptop to computer heaven.

The only thing you can do IF your laptop heads into flames is be prepared to know what to do. Don’t throw water on it. Remember – this can create a fire hotter than a standard fire. A Class D fire extinguisher will help stop the fire. Try to use something to push it into a trash can or something non-flammable. Keep the laptop plugged into a surge strip – that way if the fire breaks out, the surge protector trips.

I have an older laptop and have had it on my lap approximately 60 percent of the time when I use it. I am not concerned about it exploding. I suppose there will be some time I go to turn it on and it wont respond. But that is just like any device – eventually it will fail.

If your battery is dead, REPLACE IT.Charging a dead battery is like continually trying to light a fuse that is soaked in water. Eventually, it will spark.

BTW – if you want to feel conscious about the environment, then the laptop you want is a MacBook. It’s made with an all-aluminum case, BFR and PVC free circuit boards, arsenic free glass and a Mercury free  monitor.

playaudio 867 Can your Laptop Battery Really Explode?
playaudio 867 Can your Laptop Battery Really Explode?

About Jeffrey Powers - @geekazine

I am a podcaster and V-Caster. I love to go out and talk tech with anyone. I enjoy talking with startups because they have new and innovative technologies. You can find Geekazine at Google+ and me at my page. I also have shows at Day in Tech History, iPad365, This Week in Google Glass and a Podcast Coach at How to Record Podcasts. You can also sign up for a Helpout