Ensuring lithium ion battery safety in consumer electricals

Black Friday is a huge date in retailers’ calendars. According to the NRF, the Black Friday weekend in the US runs from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday and in 2018, Thanksgiving Day alone generated $3.7bn in online sales. And bargains in electrical and hi-tech goods are high on consumers’ shopping lists around the globe. Just over 50% of consumers[1] are seeking to purchase electrical devices in the UK, German, Irish and South African versions of the Black Friday event.

However, as technology becomes more advanced and miniaturised, more and more consumer devices rely on the highly effective lithium ion battery. Yet this technology can be hazardous if not manufactured properly.

There have been many instances of lithium ion battery failure in the press[2]; one famous example is the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. Back in 2016, 66 phones were reported to experience battery failures. Investigations identified a production fault and one million phones were recalled in September. However, after this a further 23 reports of battery failure were received and Samsung had to recall a second time in October. Finally, to avoid any further failures, all phones were deactivated in December to ensure the safety of phones that missed the recall.


Why lithium ion batteries fail

One reason that lithium ion batteries fail is due to a short circuit within the battery cell. If this happens then current can flow directly between the electrodes, causing rapid heating and if the temperature rises too much, the cell can catch fire or explode. The root-cause short circuit is often due to metal particles within the cell causing either a chemical or physical short across the central cell separator. The size and position of these particles can be correlated with the risk of failure, so manufacturers check every cell to analyse the particle distribution.

Consumer products are particularly at risk because they are prone to excessive vibration and possible misuse (such as allowing them to completely discharge, which damages the battery when charged again).



How the EA8000 helps manufacturers ensure LiB safety

Lithium ion battery failures are rare, thanks to the steps manufacturers take to keep production quality high and minimise the amount of minute particles that are present in the battery’s cells. This procedure can be made more straightforward with the EA8000 X-ray particle contaminant analyzer from Hitachi High-Tech.

The EA8000 is designed specifically for lithium ion battery quality control. The instrument includes X-ray transmission imaging to find metal particles within the cell, and advanced X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy allows you to determine which elements are present in a non-destructive manner.

Crucially, the analyser can give you a picture of the size and distribution of the metal particles within the battery cell AND identify the exact composition of the particles. Rapid analysis means you can analyse incoming materials, such as carbon-based powders for anodes, as well as the finished product.

And if you are developing new battery configurations, or experimenting with ultra-thin cell separators, then the EA8000 can be used to ensure safety in the new design, and highlight problems early in the development stage.

With automation built-in and the ability to detect contaminants below the surface, the EA8000 supports your high-volume lithium ion battery production – essential for meeting high demand in the Black Friday to Cyber Monday sales period.


Find out more about the EA8000 for ensuring LiB safety:

To find out more about how the EA8000 X-Ray Particle Contaminant Analyzer can help improve lithium ion battery performance and manufacturing yield, get in touch.


[1] https://www.pwc.co.uk/industries/retail-consumer/insights/black-friday-cyber-monday.html

[2] https://liiontamer.com/4-damaging-lithium-ion-battery-failures/

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Date: 26 November 2019

Author: Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science

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