Darn those pesky exploding batteries

This week the IEEE consortium announced that it has started work on a new standard that would regulate how lithium-ion and lithium-polymer batteries are designed and manufactured. The standard, called IEEE P1825, will set forth a number of criteria for battery design, construction and packaging in order to avoid some of the recent incidents involving lithium batteries.

For the longest time now, lithium-based batteries have been known to give reliable service as well as being safe. Unfortunately, being produced in greater quantities today, lithium batteries have fallen by the way side in terms of quality control. Sony, one of the world's largest manufacturers of lithium batteries is currently under heavy investigation because its batteries have been involved in a number of recent fires and explosions.

Over the last several weeks, a number of manufacturers have recalled batteries that were manufactured by Sony. Just last week, Toshiba recalled 340,000 batteries which were manufactured by Sony but used in its products. A day before that, Virgin Atlantic banned any products that used either Dell or Apple batteries -- all manufactured by Sony. Interestingly, in late August Sony announced that there would be no more battery recalls for units it produced. Despite the optimism, many batteries continue to be returned to their respective manufacturers.

The IEEE is hoping to have completed standards that cover both notebook batteries as well as batteries used in mobile phones by the end of 2006.

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