Great article. Individuals in our company have recently been sharing your article and would like to share with you, a link to Phillips-Medisize's breakthrough technology for safer batteries. The goal being, to enhance safety and minimize the combustibility of lithium ion batteries that you mentioned in your article. http://www.phillipsmedisize.com/case-studies/product-battery-safety
Funny you should mention that. I picked up the phrase while in a technical writing class in college. The professor had us study the Three Mile Island accident report which had colorful euphemisms like "energetic disassembly" for explosion and "rapid oxidation" for fire.
@Dr Bob and tekochip: in my past I taught High school English and would have been proud to use your examples as how the language can be perfectly manipulated to hide what is being said. Not quite as good as collateral damage when referring to dead people, but still great examples.
I seem to remember some years ago that a UPS aircraft either crashed or made an emergency landing because a bulk delivery of LiOn batteries overheated. I believe the FAA banned bulk shipment of lithium ion batteries as a result. Also reading about this technology for marine use has led me to believe that every battery cell needs to have a temperature and voltage monitor in order to regulate charge/discharge rate to prevent fires. In other articles it has been explained that the separators are made of a plastic which is thermally sensitive. I suspect UL has been reluctant to offer a test that would suggest that this technology is "Safe". The subject test only appears to demonstrate that when stressed in a particular fashion, the battery will not energiticaly disassemble. There is an awful lot of energy packed into any storage battery. None will survive having all that energy escape in seconds.
Great post Charles. Years ago I was selected by my company to be the "agency" engineer; working with UL, IEC, ETL and AGA (now CSA). It was a definite learning experience and I quickly found both UL and CSA were extremely knowledgeable and very forward leaning relative to standards and safety. The professionalism displayed by UL was very refreshing and I came to rely on their years of experience for design guidance in several areas. I think the "marriage" between NASA, Oak Ridge and UL will be extremely beneficial in mitigating safety issues with Lithium-Ion batteries.
As I always say, we've got smart readers around here. I had never heard of "rupture with extreme prejudice" nor "spontaneous diassembly with report." But I know those phrases now. Thank you for adding to my collection of engineering stoicisms.
The indentation tests used by UL bring to mind the GM battery solution of 2012. After a post-crash fire, GM beefed up the vehicle, adding a cross-bar structure and longitudinally-oriented members around the battery. They did this, despite the fact that the Volt fire was actually caused by spilling of coolant on a circuit board, not by indentation. Many people scratched their heads and asked why GM was beefing up the battery so much. Maybe the UL indentation test provides us a glimpse of their thinking.
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