I would feel so much safer on my next flight from Phoenix to Silicon Valley if I knew that there were safeguards in place inside passengers’ smartphones that could prevent fire and explosion from such design decisions like a company packing 10 pounds of Lithium-ion battery into a 5 pound compartment or a smartphone owner buying a lower cost, after-market battery replacing the original battery in their phone from some country and supplier of which I had never heard.
This article will serve as a technical and thought-provoking effort to stir some ideas that will render the Lithium-ion battery safe under any conditions of manufacturing defect or mechanical damage to the battery; hopefully in an expedient manner before catastrophe strikes.
The problem is not just smartphone batteries, but laptops and other battery-operated electronics with Lithium-ion batteries. However, since the Samsung case is so recent and widespread, I wanted to focus mostly upon the smartphone in this article.
Typically, Lithium-ion batteries are safe and reliable. Just think about the $28B market they had in 2013 with a relatively small amount of fires and explosions. But every fire and explosion incident has the potential to cause a loss of life or serious personal injury (Not to mention the collateral material damage and cost). For those of us who fly often, an immediate solution would be nice. The Federal Aviation Administration’s strong warning against using the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 aboard planes is necessary but not sufficient.
Let’s look at seven possible solutions based on solid technical research, which will build upon my recent initial article touching on this subject.
- Using liquid coolant
- Fire-retardant thermal insulation
- Improved cathode materials
- Smart multi-functional fluids
- Strengthening the mechanical battery enclosure
- Better modeling
- Lower electrolyte flammability