We all use portable devices, be they cell phones, laptops, or power tools. It seems perfectly normal for our generation, but no other generation in human history can imagine what we are doing. Given the speed at which many of these changes have taken place and the rapidly growing demand for electricity, we haven't had time to fully appreciate the technology we take for granted. We also don't understand the dangers associated with some of these new technologies.
The custom prismatic lithium-ion battery is one of the greatest achievements in portable energy in the last decade. Where the longest black and white phone lasts for a day – our new GPS with a color smartphone, email, and streaming last… good afternoon! But the amount of energy used that day is incredible compared to 10 years ago.
However, these batteries carry the risk that we are all guilty of negligence. The substance used, lithium, is very reactive. Obviously, that's one of the reasons it's so useful! However, there are risks to this, and these are:
On contact with water, lithium and H20 form lithium hydroxide and hydrogen gas. For this reason, the battery is very tightly sealed to prevent water from entering. However, as an owner, you need to be aware of the invisible risks that will arise if, for whatever reason, you decide to wash the battery in soapy water!
Temperature or charge. Overheating (caused by actual temperature and overcharging) can cause what is called thermal runaway and, in severe circumstances, cause burns.