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Consumer Peripherals

U.S. Consumer Agency Calls for Higher Safety Standards in Lithium-ion Batteries

26 January 2017

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has called on the government and businesses to set in place new standards for lithium-ion batteries in consumer electronics on the heels of the findings of Samsung’s investigation into its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone.

The move comes as HP has been forced to recall some 101,000 lithium-ion batteries used in its laptop computers because of battery overheating. The recall calls for those laptops using Panasonic lithium-ion batteries that were shipped between March of 2013 and October of 2016. The CPSC recommends those using these batteries remove them from their notebook computers and contact HP for a replacement battery.

The lithium-ion battery used in HP notebook computers that were recalled because they can overheat, posing fire and burn hazards. Source: CPSC    The lithium-ion battery used in HP notebook computers that were recalled because they can overheat, posing fire and burn hazards. Source: CPSC The HP problem is not the first instance of lithium-ion batteries having problems in consumer devices. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 smartphones last year developed a problem of overheating and even catching fire damaging property and causing harm to consumers. As a result, the U.S. Department of Transportation labeled the devices as a “forbidden hazardous material” banning them from all aircraft. Samsung recalled the phones in 2016 and earlier this week announced its findings after an investigation into the phones was conducted. Other problems with lithium-ion batteries exploding or catching fire have been found in e-cigarettes and mobile skateboards.

The CPSC says the problem with lithium-ion batteries has reached a point where the industry needs to modernize and improve the safety of the batteries in consumer electronics and also stay ahead of new power sources that will come along and replace these.

“Consumers should never have to worry that a battery-powered device might put them, their family or their property at risk,” says Elliot F. Kaye, chairman of the CPSC. “At a minimum, [the] industry needs to learn from [Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 problems] and improve consumer safety by putting more safeguards in place during the design and manufacturing stages to ensure that technologies run by lithium-ion batteries deliver their benefits without the serious safety risks.”

The CPSC says it is working with the wireless industry, battery manufacturers and electrical engineers to take a fresh look at the voluntary standard for lithium-ion batteries in smartphones. The organization also plans to research and assess the state of high-density battery technology, innovations in the market, gaps in safety standards and the research and regulatory activities happening in other countries.

To contact the author of this article, email Peter.Brown@ieeeglobalspec.com


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