Researchers have discovered a new way to reduce the risk of lithium-ion battery failures and explosions significantly
Stories about vaping explosions and fires are far too common considering how often they actually occur. Despite this, it seems like every few weeks you read another story about how politicians should seriously consider further vaping regulations or even bans in response to the crisis. But in reality, the vast majority of these rare occurrences happen to vapers who are being irresponsible with their device, failing to follow basic battery safety.
What’s worse is that this is much less a “vaping” problem as it is a modern electronic device problem, given that the ubiquitous lithium-ion batteries are at the heart of the issue. The truth is these batteries are everywhere, from laptops to even Tesla cars! Regardless of the misconceptions, we may soon have a solution to the small, but real risk of battery failure. Researchers have discovered a new method of making lithium-ion batteries that significantly reduces the chances of critical failures.
The Non-Flammable Batteries
The new battery design was formulated at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, led by Dr. Gabriel Veith. The team utilized non-newtonian fluids to design the new batteries. Their plans call for silica nanoparticles to be suspended in the lithium fluid that would thicken when placed under sudden, powerful pressure. They would then slowly absorb and disperse the energy instead of resulting in a potentially deadly explosion. Not only would it lessen the impact of a battery failure, but the design itself significantly reduces the chances the seal between the two internal electrodes ever breaks, which is what causes explosions in the first place.
The team is encouraged by their results, but they remain concerned that not enough battery manufacturers will heed their report and change the process. Luckily, according to Dr. Veith and his team, the proposed changes are not very expensive. That being said, they do require re-tooling the systems used to manufacture new batteries, which many companies many not feel is necessary. At the very least, the team hopes their work will help inform and encourage companies to change practices when making new facilities.
The Stats On Battery Fires
Even if most manufacturers never change their method to reduce failure rate, the chances that you ever personally experience a vaping fire or explosion is minimal. According to a report commissioned by the FDA and published in the Injury Epidemiology Journal, daily vapers only have a 0.0086% chance of dealing with any severe battery failure. The report used information from a national network of representative hospitals to estimate how many people get injured by vaping products every year.
The United States Fire Administration conducted another study that takes a look at the real safety of batteries. That report looked at every instance of a battery explosion between January 2009 and December 2016 reported. Over that span, only 195 incidents of vaping explosions ever happened. Once again looking into the actual numbers shows that the chances of experiencing a vaping explosion are less than a hundredth of a percent.
This latest development in battery technology could ultimately be huge for vaping. If they can gain enough traction and substantially reduce the rate and concern over lithium-ion batteries explosions, it’ll have some significant impacts. Not least of which is reducing the number of dangerous things that people mistakenly associate with vaping. This could ultimately improve the case for vaping as a harm reduction and smoking cessation tool, so it would be best if battery makers take the new evidence and change according to its findings.
But truth be told, even if this never comes to pass the chances you or anyone you know will ever have to deal with a vaping explosion is minuscule. Although the number of stories skews the picture, the fact is that not even 200 incidents happened over a seven-year span according to the United States Fire Administration. Not to mention the fact that the overwhelming majority of those issues occurred because of user negligence, not an inherently dangerous product. After all, many seemingly safe things can be deadly when improperly used.
Do you think that battery makers should be adopting the new non-flammable technique for battery making? Have you or anyone you know ever experienced a critical battery failure? Do you think the problem of vaping explosions is exaggerated in the media? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.