Galaxy Note Battery Explodes In Man’s Pocket: Why Did This Happen?

By Prarthito Maity email: | Feb 08, 2013 07:33 AM EST

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The Galaxy Note was only recently in news for all the wrong reasons when the device's battery exploded in a man's pocket in South Korea, causing immense injury with people starting to question the device's manufacturer.

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The incident occurred over the weekend when the battery of the Note exploded in a man's pocket, as reported by the Associated Press. The man was apparently walking around with the Samsung smartphone in his pocket when the battery caught fire, and gave the man second-degree burns, alongside a one-inch wound on his thigh. However, officials later stated that the battery was not inside the phone when it exploded.

While the incident was a sad one, users with a bit more knowledge about lithium-ion batteries will know that these batteries are infamous for overheating, catching fire, or even exploding.

Although much has been done to find a remedy to this problem with lithium-ion batteries over the years, no real breakthrough can be noted down, as of now. This, however, is the second time when such an incident of the battery catching fire has happened in South Korea.

As these batteries have become a common thing with almost every known device, more and more reports have started flowing in with a similar incident. Not long ago a cell phone battery suddenly caught fire in a man's back pants pocket at Defcon last year, and then again in 2009 when a man was actually killed when his exploded and severed his neck artery.

Although the batteries have been explored by companies, the only thing that was evident was that the same rechargeable cells were wrapped up differently, shrunken down, and packed in more tightly with device. This may make more energy-intense batteries, but when they start blowing up, it's not really a pretty sight.

"Any Li-ion battery has the potential to go up in flames, and that's a product of its chemistry. Lithium is used in batteries as an anode because it has extremely high electrochemical potential. That is, lithium-ion moving to the electrode produces a lot of energy. Lithium's low atomic weight is also useful in reducing the mass of batteries," a Geek report states.

The report also says that lithium is the best option for making high-capacity batteries, these properties actually make it highly reactive and dangerously prone "to thermal runaway."

Lithium, per basic chemistry, is an Alkali Metal alongside potassium, sodium, and the rest of the first group of the periodic table. "Not only are these elements highly flammable, but they are so reactive that tossing a few grams into water will cause an explosion. So when a Li-ion battery does heat up, the lithium in it can accelerate the breakdown of other cells."

However, sadly, the fact is batteries, at the moment, are still very hard to engineer, and there is no saying when such an incident will again come into news. Although, it is also to be noted that such a situation only occurs due to certain damages or manufacturing defects, the situation is highly unpredictable.

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