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May 12, 2021

Lithium-ion unintended rapid disassembly

Bad Lithium Ion Charging


Most systems using lithium-ion or lithium-polymer batteries use a two-stage safety system. The first stage is the battery charger, which is designed to safely charge the battery. The second stage is the safety board, which prevents the battery from damage if the charger goes haywire.

Occasionally for systems where the battery is not replaceable developers don't put in a separate safety board, but rely on other features of their internal circuitry to keep the battery safe.

This is what happened to this prototype developed by one of our customers. They were using a single 900 mAH battery metal can prismatic battery without a safety board. An internal DC/DC converter failed, presenting 6 volts 0.5 amps across the single 3.6 volt prismatic lithium-ion cell.

The cell not only caused the damage shown here, but filled the room with black soot covered, a large area with battery pieces and burned spots on the carpet.

Moral: please friends, be safe.

  This picture shows the prototype laying on its charging stand shortly after the event. The battery has spewed its guts.
Another view of the ejected battery parts under the original circuit board
Here the prototype has been taken off the charging station
The more-or-less empty casing of the prismatic lithium-ion battery.

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