Tech

Here’s why you should never, ever bite a smartphone battery


You know that smartphone batteries can be pretty dangerous things, right?

Like, with all the fuss about those exploding Samsungs a little while back, surely people got the message that these unpredictable and potentially incendiary components aren’t something to mess around with?

 

Well, in case you forgot about all that hoopla, maybe this insane footage of a man biting into a smartphone battery like it was some kind of non-exploding tasty snack will serve as a helpful refresher on what kind of gadgets shouldn’t be put in your mouth (pretty much all of them, folks).

This unlucky customer was reportedly shopping for a new replacement battery for his iPhone at an electronics store in China last Friday when – in the midst of his careful product deliberations – he decided to bite one of the batteries he was considering purchasing.

Then this happened:

(Miaopai)

As you can see, no sooner has this guy sunk his teeth into the battery when it explodes right in front of his face, with a huge fireball engulfing the product desk, scattering shocked customers who instinctively recoil from the blast.

Incredibly, nobody was injured in this bizarre accident, which is all the more remarkable given the exploding component is clearly being held only inches from the man’s face – and close by to other customers, too.

 

Of course, now you’ve seen the footage – which was uploaded to Chinese video site Miaopai and has since been viewed millions of times – you’re probably wondering just why this man decided to casually bite a smartphone battery in the middle of a crowded electronics store.

To be honest, nobody really knows the answer to that one. Some think he may have been trying to verify the authenticity of the component by making sure it wasn’t some cheaply made knock-off.

Just like the time-honoured practice of biting gold to check whether it’s real, the customer may have assumed he could rely on the same dependable tactic to confirm the legitimacy of a rechargeable lithium-ion battery… which, obviously, you can’t.

While the poor guy learned his lesson the hard way, it’s just the latest example of how dangerous lithium-ion batteries can be if their casing gets unexpectedly ruptured, in which case it’s possible their cathode and anode may come into contact with one another, building up intense levels of heat.

A related danger is when defects called dendrites build up inside batteries, breaking down compartment barriers and leading to the same thermal runaway problem.

This is why scientists are busy trying to develop batteries that shut down at high temperatures, even incorporating things like flame-retardant solvents in the electrode.

We’re still waiting to see these kinds of innovations take off in the market, but while we do, let’s all remember this poor man’s unfortunate shopping experience – and make sure we don’t bite any batteries like he did.

 



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