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Why Batteries Catch on Fire

This iFixit video explains how and why the lithium-ion batteries in smartphones and other consumer devices can suddenly heat up and catch on fire.

Spencer Chin

April 10, 2023

There’s been a lot of news on lithium-ion batteries in phones, laptop computers, and e-scooters heat up and catch fire, potentially leading to costly product damage, and worse, potential injury to users.

In this iFixit video from several months ago, several iFixit staffers explain the problem of thermal runaway, when the battery’s internal temperature exceeds safe operating limits and increase the risk of dangerous overheating. The staffers warn that anyone wishing to replace a worn-out battery in one of these devices should discharge the battery as much as possible before handling it, as the amount of stored energy in the device will much less likely be enough to create a thermal runaway condition.

The video concludes by showing a battery whose capacity is much larger than one in a portable mobile overheating and blowing up, to vividly illustrate the potential danger if a battery’s condition is ignored and safe handling practices are not adhered to.




Batteries Catching Fire

Warning! Do NOT try replicating any of these experiments in the video on your own. Just watch and learn from viewing the video here.



About the Author(s)

Spencer Chin

Senior Editor, Design News

Spencer Chin is a Senior Editor with Design News, covering the electronics beat.

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