According to a new study published in Nano Energy, more than 100 toxic gases can be produced by the li-ion batteries found in billions of consumer devices, like smartphones and tablets.
The gases are potentially fatal, and they can cause strong irritations to skin, eyes and nasal passages, and harm environment.
Researchers suggest that many people are unaware of the dangers of overheating, damaging or using a disreputable charger for their rechargeable devices.
Nowadays, li-ion batteries are being actively promoted by many governments all over the world as a viable energy solution to power everything from electric vehicles to mobile devices.
The li-ion battery is used by millions of families, so it is critical that the public to understand the risks behind this energy source.
The dangers of exploding batteries have led manufacturers to recall millions of devices: Dell recalled four million laptops in 2006 and millions of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 devices were recalled this month after reports of battery fires.
But the threats posed by toxic gas emissions and the sources of these emissions have not been well understood.
In the paper, researchers identified several factors that can cause an increase in the concentration of the toxic gases emitted.
A fully charged battery will release more toxic gases than a battery with 50% charge, for example.
The chemicals contained in the batteries and their capacity to release charge also affected the concentrations and types of toxic gases released.
Identifying the gases produced and the reasons for their emission gives manufacturers a better understanding of how to reduce toxic emissions and protect the public, as li-ion batteries are used in a wide range of environments.
Researchers suggest that such dangerous substances, in particular carbon monoxide, have the potential to cause serious harm within a short period of time if they leak inside a car or an airplane compartment
Almost 20,000 li-ion batteries were heated to the point of combustion in the study, causing most devices to explode and all to emit a range of toxic gases.
Batteries can be exposed to such temperature extremes in the real world, for example, if the battery overheats or is damaged in some way.
The researchers now plan to develop this detection technique to improve the safety of li-ion batteries so they can be used to power the electric vehicles of the future safely.
Citation: Sun J, et al. (2016). Toxicity, a serious concern of thermal runaway from commercial Li-ion battery. Nano Energy, 27: 313-319. DOI:10.1016/j.nanoen.2016.06.031.
Figure legend: This Knowridge.com image is credited to Sun J et al.