More Li-ion Cell Short Stories

Posted 25th February 2016 by Dave Cross
We have covered the media interest in accidents involving li-ion cells, we reported the sound advice being given out by fire service officials and even listed our own steps to safety. The question remains: how should the message be conveyed to new vapers? Yet more accidents and negative media coverage says it’s not getting through.

Newsome Law write that ecig battery lawsuits are on the rise. They note that there were 25 incidents reported by FEMA up to 2014 but we witnessed a much increased rate during 2015 and are currently averaging one per week in 2016. Newsome contrast the rash of claims made against lighter manufacturer BIC with the state of the e-Cig battery market. Exploding lighters ceased to be a major issue due to comprehensive redesigns making the product safer but they do not anticipate any such move from battery manufacturers.

As reported in January, the Christmas period highlighted the potential for batteries to vent when stressed or damaged that was highlighted by the media’s hysterical coverage of “dangerous” hoverboards. Incorrect charging caused the stress and the public remains ignorant about the potential for harm from a damaged cell. But what appears to be accelerating the number of incidents being reported is a shift to low-ohm builds coupled with a proliferation of hybrid mods as new users seek to replicate the cloud blowing they’ve witnessed on online videos.

Ryan Bailey is a case in point. The Mirror reported: “his Knight Mod e-cig allegedly blew up while he was smoking it. Leaving him needing: “four operations including a skin graft after suffering burns to his hand and lips and will also require extensive dental work.”

And this week, Tamworth resident Dan Walker received second and third degree burns to his leg after an 18650 li-ion cell vented in his tracksuit trouser pocket. "You see these things on the news and you think 'it is never going to happen to me', but it has. It has really brought it home to me how dangerous these things can be and that these things can happen and people have got to be aware of this," he told the Tamworth Herald.

Seasoned vapers may point to the two individuals and highlight the errors they made – but the fact remains that the message is either failing to get across or is being ignored. What can vape stores and cell manufacturers do to improve the situation?

The Mirror cites an American Local Government Association representative saying: “We urge manufacturers to ­introduce clear, prominent and graphic new warnings spelling out the dangers of using incompatible chargers with e-cigarette batteries.”

Tamworth vape store owner Ashley Upton adds: “If [batteries] are used correctly and people adhere to the safety advice and buy proper cases specifically for their batteries, incidents like this could be avoided."

Standard advice for those new to using li-ion cells in vaping includes:

  • Only purchase batteries and chargers directly from the manufacturer or from a manufacturer-recommended source. Buying counterfeit or poorly manufactured batteries increases the chance of having an issue.
  • Do not let a loose battery come in contact with metal objects, such as coins, keys, or jewelry. Metal objects can cross the electrical connections and cause an incident if the internal protection circuitry isn't functioning correctly.
  • Do not crush, puncture or put a high degree of pressure on the battery, as this can cause an internal short-circuit, resulting in overheating.
  • Do not place the mod or batteries in areas that may get very hot, such as on or near a cooking surface, cooking appliance, iron, radiator or the dashboard of your car in the summer.
  • If you drop your mod on a hard surface, it can potentially cause damage the battery.
  • If your mod gets wet, even if the device dries and operates normally, the battery contacts or circuitry could slowly corrode and pose a safety hazard.
  • If you see any bulging, leakage or other abnormality from your battery, stop using it immediately.

POTV forum member Tubbyengineer wrote a comprehensive article on battery safety and charging here.

How do you think the message could be made clearer to new vapers in order to avoid a repetition of these incidents?

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker