Lithium vs. Alkaline Batteries: What’s the Difference. Alkaline battery explosion

Used Lithium-Ion Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries and devices containing these batteries should NOT go in household garbage or recycling bins.

Lithium-ion batteries SHOULD be taken to separate recycling or household hazardous waste collection points.

To prevent fires, tape battery terminals and/or place lithium-ion batteries in separate plastic bags.

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General Information

Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are used in many products such as electronics, toys, wireless headphones, handheld power tools, small and large appliances, electric vehicles and electrical energy storage systems. If not properly managed at the end of their useful life, they can cause harm to human health or the environment.

The increased demand for Li-ion batteries in the marketplace can be traced largely to the high “energy density” of this battery chemistry. “Energy density” means the amount of energy that a system stores in an amount of space. Lithium batteries can be smaller and lighter than other types of batteries while holding the same amount of energy. This miniaturization has allowed for a Rapid increase in the consumer adoption of smaller portable and cordless products.

Information for Consumers

There are two types of lithium batteries that the U.S. consumers use and need to manage at the end of their useful life: single-use, non-rechargeable lithium metal batteries and re-chargeable lithium-polymer cells (Li-ion, Li-ion cells).

Li-ion batteries are made of materials such as cobalt, graphite and lithium which are considered critical minerals. Critical minerals are raw materials that are economically and strategically important to the U.S., have a high risk of their supply being disrupted and for which there are no easy substitutes. When these batteries are disposed of in the trash, we lose these critical resources outright. For more information on critical minerals go to the U.S. Geological Survey website.

Additionally, if the battery or electronic device that contains the battery is disposed of in the trash or placed in the municipal recycling bin with household recyclables such as plastic, paper or glass, it may become damaged or crushed in transport or from processing and sorting equipment, creating a fire hazard.

Li-ion batteries, or those contained in electronic devices, should therefore be recycled at certified battery electronics recyclers that accept batteries rather than being discarded in the trash or put in municipal recycling bins.

EPA recommendation: Find a location to recycle Li-ion batteries and products that contain Li-ion batteries using one of the suggested links; do not put them in the trash or municipal recycling bins.

Li-ion batteries in electronics: Send electronic devices containing Li-ion batteries to certified electronics recyclers, participating retailers and recyclers in electronics takeback services or contact your local solid waste or household hazardous waste collection program for more options.

lithium, alkaline, batteries, difference

Li-ion batteries that are easily separated from the product (e.g., power tools): Find a recycling location near youto properly dispose of Li-ion batteries. Send individual batteries to specialized battery recyclers or retailers that are participating in takeback services or contact your local solid waste or household hazardous waste program for more options.

Two resources for finding a recycler are the Earth 911 databaseand Call2Recycle.

Handling precautions: Place each battery or device containing a battery in a separate plastic bag. Place non-conductive tape (e.g., electrical tape) over the battery’s terminals. If the Li-ion battery becomes damaged, contact the battery or device manufacturer for specific handling information. Even used batteries can have enough energy to injure or start fires. Not all batteries are removable or serviceable by the user. Heed battery and product markings regarding safety and use.

EPA recommendation: Contact the manufacturer, automobile dealer or company that installed the Li-ion battery for management options; do not put it in the trash or municipal recycling bins.

Because of the size and complexity of these battery systems, medium and large-scale Li-ion batteries may not be able to be removed by the consumer. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions and heed warnings and safety instructions.

  • Automobile: Contact the automobile dealer, shop or salvage yard where the battery was purchased.
  • Energy Storage: Contact the energy storage equipment manufacturer or company that installed the battery.

‘Avoid the Spark. Be Battery Safety Smart.’ Campaign

Due to the increase of fires at recycling and waste facilities across the country, industry groups have worked together to develop the ‘Avoid the Spark. Be Battery Safety Smart.’ campaign. This campaign seeks to educate the American consumer about battery safety and proper management of used Li-ion batteries. The main message of the campaign is that batteries can and should be recycled when they reach the end of their useful life. For more information go to Call2Recycle’s website.

U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) “Check the Box” Campaign

The DOT’s “Check the Box” campaign is a public awareness campaign that seeks to prevent serious incidents by increasing public awareness of everyday items that are considered hazardous materials in transportation – this includes batteries that are packaged and sent for recycling or disposal. Batteries must be correctly identified, packaged, and labeled via package markings before being sent for recycling or disposal. For more information, go to DOT’s Check the Box campaign and check out the campaign video.

Information for Businesses

Some lithium-ion batteries may meet the definition of hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) if they exhibit a characteristic of hazardous waste such as ignitability, reactivity or toxicity when they are disposed. Persons who generate wastes that are defined as hazardous under RCRA are referred to as “hazardous waste generators.” These regulations do not apply to households because under RCRA, hazardous wastes discarded by households are generally exempt from hazardous waste regulations. In contrast, commercial establishments are responsible for determining whether any waste they produce is hazardous waste, including Li-ion batteries at their end of life.

Lithium-ion batteries with different chemical compositions can appear nearly identical yet have different properties. In addition, some discarded Li-ion batteries are more likely to have hazardous properties if they contain a significant charge, yet such batteries can appear to the user to be completely discharged. For these reasons, it can be difficult for a generator to identify which of its waste Li-ion batteries are defined as hazardous waste when disposed. Therefore, where there is uncertainty, EPA recommends that businesses consider managing Li-ion batteries under the federal “universal waste” regulations in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part 273.

The universal waste regulations provide a streamlined set of requirements for generators of specific types of common hazardous wastes (e.g., fluorescent lamps containing mercury, batteries) from a wide variety of commercial settings. Requirements differ depending on whether you accumulate less or more than 5,000 kg of total universal wastes on site at one time, but they include instructions on how to manage the waste, how to label containers, how long the waste can be accumulated on site, and where the waste can be sent, among others. Universal waste regulations do not require shipment using a hazardous waste manifest but do require that the waste be sent to a permitted hazardous waste disposal facility or a recycler. International shipments of Li-ion batteries managed as universal waste must also comply with RCRA requirements for export and import of universal waste. EPA recommends that businesses consult their state solid and hazardous waste agencies for additional information on applicable universal waste regulations.

An additional consideration, particularly for small businesses or those that generate small amounts of hazardous waste per month, are the RCRA “very small quantity generator” (VSQG) regulations. Li-ion batteries discarded by businesses that generate less than 100 kg (220 pounds) of hazardous waste per month are considered very small quantity generator waste and may be subject to reduced hazardous waste requirements. Prior to using the VSQG exemption, check with your state regulatory program, as they may have different requirements. Although EPA recommends that all batteries be managed under the universal waste standards, persons collecting or storing used Li-ion batteries from households or from VSQGs for the purposes of either exemption should keep them separate from other collected Li-ion batteries that are subject to more stringent requirements. Otherwise, they risk having the entire commingled collection subjected to the more stringent requirements (e.g., the streamlined universal waste requirements or the standard hazardous waste generator regulations).

Information for Workers

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a Safety and Health Information Bulletin: Preventing Fire and/or Explosion Injury from Small and Wearable Lithium Battery Powered Devices. The Bulletin is advisory in nature, informational in content, and intended to educate workers and assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace.

Information for Transporters

DOT’s Hazardous Materials Regulations

Lithium batteries are hazardous materials and are subject to DOT’s Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171–180). This includes packaging and standard hazard communication requirements (e.g., markings, labels, shipping papers, emergency response information) and hazmat employee training requirements. Hazard communication requirements are found in part 172 of the HMR and requirements specific to lithium batteries are found in 49 CFR section 173.185.

DOT Safety Advisory Notice for Disposal and Recycling of Lithium Batteries in Commercial Transportation

In May 2022, DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued a Safety Advisory Notice for Disposal and Recycling of Lithium Batteries in Commercial Transportation. The Safety Advisory Notice aims to increase the public’s overall awareness about the dangers related to shipping lithium batteries for recycling or disposal. The Safety Advisory Notice:

  • Highlights the essential hazmat regulatory information needed to ship lithium batteries in commercial transportation for recycling and disposal.
  • Discusses the general dangers of shipping lithium batteries, what consumers should do, and steps shippers and carriers need to take when disposing and recycling lithium batteries and equipment/products containing lithium batteries.
  • Directs readers to a variety of additional resources for further information on preparing lithium batteries for shipment.
lithium, alkaline, batteries, difference

DOT Guidance for Damaged, Defective, or Recalled (DDR) Lithium Ion Batteries

DDR lithium batteries, including those that have been misused and abused, are more likely to catch fire during transportation than non-DDR lithium batteries. Unfortunately, misused, abused, and other kinds of DDR lithium batteries can be difficult to identify. Without the proper information and awareness, many shippers and carriers may continue to ship DDR lithium batteries in the same manner as non-DDR ones, creating additional risks for their communities. This guidance is intended to help you identify DDR lithium batteries and properly package them for shipment.

Additional Resources

  • EPA Lithium-Ion Battery Disposal and Recycling Workshop, Summary Report (pdf) (799.47 KB)
  • An Introduction to Lithium Batteries and the Challenges that they Pose to the Waste and Recycling Industry
  • Management Challenges for Lithium Batteries at Electronics Recyclers

The following links exit the site:

Disclaimer: These sites are listed for informational purposes only. U.S. EPA does not endorse any of these entities, nor their services.

  • EPA released a Summary Report for the Lithium-Ion Batteries in the Waste Stream Workshops. These workshops were held on October 5, 2021, and October 19, 2021, as two half-day sessions. Learn more and read the summary report.
  • Learn about infrastructure investments to improve the nation’s battery recycling programs.
  • EPA released a report analyzing the impacts of end-of-life lithium-ion batteries, generally from consumer devices (e.g., cell phones, tablets, vacuums, etc.), going into the municipal solid waste management process. Learn more and read the report.

Lithium vs. Alkaline Batteries: What’s the Difference?

Undoubtedly, lithium and alkaline batteries are the best options available in today’s market. Both battery types have a reliable power output, but they are made of different materials. Therefore, you need to be careful of their strengths and weaknesses to ensure you buy the most ideal.

For instance, if you want a battery with a consistent power supply, lithium batteries are the best option. However, the big challenge is the hazardous process of recycling them.

On the other hand, alkaline batteries have easier recycling options and are budget-friendly, but you will have to cope with their poor energy-holding capacity. So, before you decide on one option, it would be best to go through our lithium vs alkaline batteries comparison to help you choose the ideal battery for your needs.

Lithium vs. Alkaline Batteries: Side-by-Side Comparison

Lithium BatteriesAlkaline Batteries
What it is Lithium batteries are one of the best batteries with modern technology and use lithium-ion as the main component in their chemistry Alkaline batteries are reliable batteries that use alkaline potassium hydroxide (KOH) electrolyte
Charging cycles A 4.2 voltage cell allows about 300 to 500 charging cycles, more than any other battery offers today They have about 10 recharge cycles
Rechargeable Yes Traditional alkaline batteries are non-rechargeable; however, there are modern rechargeable alkaline batteries available on the market, often called “alkaline rechargeable” or “alkaline nickel-metal hydride (NiMH)” batteries
Price Very expensive Relatively cheap
Energy density Have a high energy density of 260-270 wh/kg Standard energy destiny of 50-100 wh/kg
Voltage 3.0 nominal voltage (up to 72 volts or more can be produced by creating lithium battery packs) 1.5 nominal voltage
Shelf life 10-12 years 5-10 years
Fire hazard Highly flammable Less flammable
Size Size can be customized They come in fixed sizes

Lithium vs. Alkaline Batteries: What’s the Difference?

Lithium and alkaline batteries have critical differences you should understand in order to find the most appropriate battery for your device. In our comparison, we look at crucial aspects such as durability, overall performance, and energy output to ensure you understand how each one works. Let’s get started.

Charging Cycles

The lifespan of batteries depends on many factors, but what really counts (for rechargeable batteries) are the charging cycles. Looking at lithium batteries, they offer 300 to 500 charging cycles for 4.2V/cells, 600-1,000 charging cycles for 4.1V/cells, 1,200-2,000 charge cycles for 4.0V/cells, and 2,400-4,000 charge cycles for 3.9V/cells.

It’s worth noting that lithium batteries have a higher number of recharge cycles than any other battery available today. In the case of alkaline batteries, most are designed for single use, so they have a few recharging cycles. Typically, they only have about 10 recharging cycles, but that doesn’t mean they have a short lifespan.

Shelf Life

Check on the battery’s shelf life if you intend to install it on a device that isn’t often powered on. Shelf life determines how long the batteries can remain in storage without losing their value.

The good news is that you will never go wrong with either lithium or alkaline batteries, as they both have a lasting shelf life. There are claims that some models of lithium batteries can last up to 20 years if you store them in recommended temperatures.

  • Withstand temperatures from.40 degrees F to 140 degrees F
  • Leak-proof
  • Last up to 20 years in storage
  • Perfect for digital cameras, game controllers, and smoke detectors

On average, alkaline batteries will remain usable for about 5 to 10 years, while lithium batteries usually have a shelf-life of 10-12 years. Although lithium batteries have a better shelf life than alkaline batteries, the difference doesn’t create enough impact to help you make a solid decision. That is why it’s best to check on the other aspects below to ensure you don’t miss out on essential points.

Energy Holding Capacity and Energy Density

We can’t deny that lithium batteries are way better than alkaline batteries when we compare their energy density. While alkaline batteries offer between 50-100 wh/kg, lithium batteries promise double energy density that ranges from 260-270 wh/kg.

In terms of their energy holding capacity, an AA alkaline battery provides a capacity of up to 2850 mAh. We shall compare the AA alkaline battery’s capacity with lithium-ion 14500 because they share almost the same properties. Depending on the model, the lithium-ion 14500’s capacity is rated at 1000 mAh to 3,000 mAh.


The voltage will help you determine the electrical potential of the battery you intend to buy. If you seek to find a battery with high voltage, lithium batteries will undoubtedly fulfil your needs. They have a nominal voltage of 3.0 volts, whereas alkaline batteries offer a nominal voltage of 1.5 volts.

The difference is clear; lithium batteries beat alkaline batteries by half. But there is more to add to lithium batteries’ victory; you can combine the batteries to create a 72-volt battery pack or even higher. Therefore, you can fully depend on lithium batteries to power up devices that consume a lot of electrical energy.


Although the weight of batteries isn’t a critical aspect, it’s best to understand their weight to know which fits your device. Alkaline batteries are usually heavier and bulkier than lithium batteries, making them unfit for portable devices such as laptops, cameras, and communication devices.

Alkaline and lithium AA cells weigh about 23g (0.81 oz) and 15 g (0.53 oz), respectively. Despite alkaline batteries having more weight than lithium batteries, they do not offer the best energy density, which is a turn-off for many buyers.

Fire Hazard

While these battery cells are not prone to explosion, it is worth knowing which one, between alkaline and lithium batteries, poses more danger. Lithium batteries are more flammable than alkaline batteries when faulty or exposed to extreme temperatures. They burst into flames easily because of the flammable electrolyte.


As we had mentioned before, alkaline batteries are designed for single use. However, you can still recharge a dead alkaline battery. We don’t recommend recharging the alkaline cells, as they may overheat and cause an explosion.

  • Ten-year shelf life
  • 48-count value pack of 1.5-volt AA alkaline batteries
  • Single-use alkaline batteries
  • Good for devices like clocks, toys, and flashlights
  • Easy-open packaging

But if you really must recharge your alkaline batteries, note that you need to control the charging cycle to avoid the problem of overheating. In other words, you should turn on the charger for about 30 minutes, then turn it off to allow the battery to cool before restarting the recharging process.

Unlike alkaline batteries, most Lithium batteries are rechargeable. It is easy to charge lithium cells, but the big challenge is charging them safely. This is because the batteries are highly flammable when overcharged or wrongly connected.

If you buy lithium batteries, always observe the manufacturer’s safety instructions before starting the charging process. Additionally, ensure the battery isn’t damaged and don’t overcharge it to avoid an explosion.

Consistent Output

You should be extra careful about the battery’s consistent output if you seek one that doesn’t grow weak during its operation. Lithium batteries are very reliable as their power output is consistent, whether fully charged or nearly empty.

This is possible because the lithium ions can move back and forth between the two electrodes. That way, lithium batteries can maintain the same electrical output, irrespective of their charge level.

On the other hand, alkaline batteries’ voltage falls off significantly with use. It doesn’t offer a consistent output; therefore, we don’t recommend using it on devices that require a consistent power supply such as medical equipment.

Customized Size

A major difference between these batteries is that alkaline batteries come in a standard size, whereas lithium batteries can be customized depending on your needs. So, if you can’t find a battery that fits your device, you don’t have an option with alkaline batteries.

But in the case of lithium batteries, one can be designed and built to meet your specific requirements. Also, you can ask for a lithium battery with unique or advanced features, such as the ability to withstand extreme heat and robust vibration.


We can’t wrap up the difference between lithium and alkaline batteries without considering their prices. Alkaline cells are more budget-friendly than lithium batteries. Well, that is to be expected considering the fact that lithium batteries are made of expensive metal, which costs roughly 80,000 (price expected to go up in 2023).

Although lithium batteries are more powerful than alkaline batteries, they won’t be an option if you plan on a tight budget. But if money is not a challenge, lithium batteries are cost-effective as they have more recharge cycles and last longer. Therefore, you can use a lithium battery for an extended period without purchasing another.

Lithium vs. Alkaline Batteries: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Use?

Overall, lithium batteries are the best. However, there are instances when alkaline batteries will be more suitable than lithium batteries. It all depends on the equipment you plan to use.

lithium, alkaline, batteries, difference

If your device demands a constant power supply and high-voltage electricity, you should use lithium batteries. A big advantage of lithium batteries is that they have a consistent power output and deliver high voltage. In addition, they have many charge cycles so you can use them for an extended period.

On the other hand, alkaline batteries are more suitable for electronic products that aren’t power beasts, such as remote controls, MP3 players, smoke alarms, toys, and wireless microphones.

Remember that alkaline cells pose lower fire hazards than lithium batteries, making them best for home devices. Also, they don’t contain toxic chemicals, so you can quickly dispose of them.

  • Withstand temperatures from.40 degrees F to 140 degrees F
  • Leak-proof
  • Last up to 20 years in storage
  • Perfect for digital cameras, game controllers, and smoke detectors

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

  • Ten-year shelf life
  • 48-count value pack of 1.5-volt AA alkaline batteries
  • Single-use alkaline batteries
  • Good for devices like clocks, toys, and flashlights
  • Easy-open packaging

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Lithium vs. Alkaline Batteries: What’s the Difference? FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What battery type is best?

Undoubtedly, lithium batteries are the best today. No battery can match lithium cells’ chemistry and power output. They have the highest number of charging cycles, high voltage, and more than twice the energy-holding capacity of regular batteries.

Which lasts longer, lithium or alkaline batteries?

Lithium batteries last longer than alkaline batteries. They are designed to withstand extreme weather conditions, so they aren’t damaged like other regular batteries.

Typically, lithium batteries last about 10-12 years, whereas alkaline batteries will serve you between 5-10 years. Some experts claim lithium batteries can last up to 20 years, making them more durable than any other battery on the market today.

Are lithium and alkaline batteries rechargeable?

Both batteries have rechargeable and non-rechargeable options. Most alkaline batteries are non-rechargeable, whereas a good number of lithium batteries are rechargeable. The charging process of both batteries is easy, but you should be careful not to overcharge them as they can explode.

Which battery is hazardous?

All batteries are hazardous, but lithium batteries are the most dangerous. They are highly flammable when exposed to extreme heat or when they’re damaged. Also, lithium batteries can easily explode during charging.

Therefore, you should connect them properly and ensure you don’t overcharge them. Finally, if you don’t dispose of lithium batteries properly, they will negatively affect the environment as they contain toxic chemicals.

Can lithium and alkaline batteries be used interchangeably?

No, lithium and alkaline batteries cannot be used interchangeably because they have different chemistries and different voltage outputs. Using the wrong type of battery in a device can damage the device or cause it to malfunction.

About the Author

Jane Wangui

Jane is a versatile writer who loves research and writing content that connects with readers. Since 2016, she has been helping businesses market themselves online by producing high-quality, engaging, and informative content. With a Bachelor’s degree in Natural Sciences, Jane specializes in writing about science and technology topics. She especially enjoys writing about science fiction, EVs, video games, GPUs, the history of technology, space, programming, personal tech, cybersecurity, VR/AR, and cryptocurrencies. When not writing, you will find her motorcycling, belly dancing and roller derbying.

PP3 9V battery explosion

A member has reported an incident in which a PP3 9-volt battery exploded. A loud bang was heard on the vessel bridge. Initially the noise was believed to be a lightbulb failing, but no trace could be found other than some debris embedded in a partition wall and a fragment which landed on a surveyor.s shoulder.

After conducting a thorough search, a PP3 type 9-volt battery was discovered wrapped in a piece of paper with the terminals taped over ready for disposal. The bottom was blown off the battery housing exposing the individual ‘AAAA’ batteries inside. Fortunately, there were no injuries.

The following causal factors were identified:

  • The battery was used beyond its recommended expiry date (see 3rd image);
  • As a result of this over-use, one or more internal cells had leaked causing an internal short circuit;
  • The battery overheated causing catastrophic failure.

Our member took the following actions:

  • Vessel checked for similar brand or make of battery – two such batteries were found in packaging, both expired. These were disposed of safely;
  • Further checks were made of all other batteries currently in use or in stock to ensure expiry dates were not exceeded;
  • Safety flash was issued to company globally and IMCA.

Whilst this incident involved a disposable alkaline battery, members will note that there have been explosions reported which have been caused by failure or malfunction of:

All batteries involve dense storage of large amounts of energy, and as such, contain inherent hazards. members may wish to reiterate the importance of good battery management for all forms of batteries, whatever battery chemistry may be involved. This should particularly be the case for rechargeable Lithium-ion batteries.

Safety Event

Published: 3 October 2016 Download: IMCA SF 25/16

IMCA Safety Flashes

Submit a Report

IMCA Safety Flashes summarise key safety matters and incidents, allowing lessons to be more easily learnt for the benefit of all. The effectiveness of the IMCA Safety Flash system depends on Members sharing information and so avoiding repeat incidents. Please consider adding [email protected] to your internal distribution list for safety alerts or manually submitting information on incidents you consider may be relevant. All information is anonymised or sanitised, as appropriate.

IMCA’s store terms and conditions ( apply to all downloads from IMCA’s website, including this document.

IMCA makes every effort to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data contained in the documents it publishes, but IMCA shall not be liable for any guidance and/or recommendation and/or statement herein contained. The information contained in this document does not fulfil or replace any individual’s or Member’s legal, regulatory or other duties or obligations in respect of their operations. Individuals and Members remain solely responsible for the safe, lawful and proper conduct of their operations.

This Is Why Electronic Devices Keep Exploding

Nearly all of our rechargeable electronic devices are powered by lithium-ion batteries—the same batteries that cause e-cigarettes to explode and hoverboards to burst into flames.

Manufacturers continue to rely on these volatile power sources because their energy density is unparalleled—more than double that of household alkaline or NiCD rechargeable batteries. The injuries and property damage that have resulted from lithium-ion battery explosions though raise serious questions about what companies are doing to ensure their products are as safe as possible.

What are Lithium-Ion Batteries?

Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries have been around since the 1970’s. But despite their age, they have become more dangerous, not less, as demand for slimmer electronics with longer-lasting batteries increases.

Li-ion batteries have four main components: positively-charged cathodes, negatively-charged anodes, a highly flammable liquid electrolyte, and a thin sheet of polypropylene that separates the cathodes from the anodes.

When a li-ion battery is charging, electricity moves from the cathodes through the porous polypropylene separator and the liquid electrolyte to the anodes. The reverse process happens when a device discharges.

Why Do Lithium-Ion Batteries Explode?

“These aren’t the batteries you grew up with.

Problems with lithium-ion batteries start when the opposing electrodes, the cathodes and anodes, touch. The thin layer of polypropylene that serves as the battery separator is supposed to prevent this from happening, but it’s a difficult job as devices become slimmer and batteries stronger.

When the cathodes and anodes do touch, the battery may short circuit, leading to thermal runaway. Thermal runaway is a chemical chain reaction that causes battery chemicals to quickly heat up, sometimes reaching temperatures hotter than 1,000° F. With temperatures that high and the intense pressure that comes along with it, the flammable liquid electrolyte is likely to combust.

But what exactly causes the battery to short circuit in the first place? There are a few common causes:

  • Manufacturing errors : Poor quality batteries can be susceptible to short circuiting if the batteries are designed with poor insulation or ventilation. Other reported manufacturing errors have included jagged battery edges that pierced the all-important separator, and batteries designed with too little space between the separator and the electrodes.
  • Long-term wear and tear : Dropping your phone too many times can damage the battery and cause it to visibly swell up, putting pressure on the battery chemicals.
  • Poorly made chargers: Poorly made chargers can sometimes overcharge batteries, causing them to overheat and short circuit.

“These aren’t the batteries you grew up with—they’re not like alkaline batteries,” warns Mike Morgan. managing partner of Morgan Morgan’s Product Safety Group. “They shouldn’t be sold loose to consumers without proper training. Instead, they should be sold as ‘captured batteries’ that are protected and allow for safer use. You shouldn’t have to have a degree in electrical engineering to safely operate these devices.”

Yet, these batteries are everywhere and in everything, electrical engineering degrees notwithstanding.

Which Electronic Devices Are Susceptible to Overheating?

Lithium-ion batteries aren’t just different from alkaline batteries for their complex design; they also differ from the average household batteries in that they are more likely to overheat and explode.

It doesn’t matter how large or small the battery is, nor what device it’s powering or the product manufacturer. These batteries can explode anywhere and at any time; while charging, in use, or even while lying dormant.

Remote controls, wireless ear buds, children’s toys, and even baby monitors have all been known to catch fire unexpectedly. Here’s a roundup of the most notable li-ion battery explosions and recalls.


Laptops were among the first electronic devices to catch fire because of overheating li-ion batteries. In 2006, Dell recalled more than four million laptops. But, overheating laptops are nowhere near a thing of the past for the company. In 2017, a camera captured a teen’s Dell laptop as it burst into flames while charging in his living room.

Dell isn’t the only company that has problems with their laptop batteries. At the beginning of 2018, HP recalled 50,000 laptops because of their susceptibility to overheat. Before the recall was announced, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) had received eight reports of batteries overheating, melting or charring, causing both property damage and first-degree burns.


“The batteries, when unstable, can pack the punch of a roman-candle grenade.”

E-cigs, or vape pens, can cause devastating injuries if they explode since they are used so close to the face and mouth.

When former professional soccer player Danny Califf’s vape pen exploded in his face in 2016, the li-ion battery when through his cheek. He suffered a broken cheekbone and a concussion as a result.

Other vape pen explosions have ripped holes near people’s mouths, blinded eyes, caused second and third-degree burns, and even set cars on fire. From 2009 to January 2016, the FDA received 134 reports of vape fires and explosions.

lithium, alkaline, batteries, difference

“The batteries, when unstable, can pack the punch of a roman-candle grenade,” said Mike Morgan. “When you put the battery in a steel tube like a vaporizer, it builds up with such pressure that you effectively have a pipe bomb. You’re taking that and putting it in your mouth and your. and walking around every day with it.”


It wasn’t long before this must-have holiday gift ranked as one of the most dangerous toys.

Hoverboards rely on powerful li-ion batteries that pack a dangerous punch when they explode. than half a million hoverboards were recalled in 2016 after a string of fires and explosions.

These self-balancing scooters have caught fire while charging, riding, and sometimes when they are not in use at all.

A family in Louisiana tragically lost their home when a charging Fit Turbo hoverboard exploded. The fire spread so quickly that their teenage daughter had to jump out of a second-floor window to safety.

The CPSC reported that they received 99 reports of hoverboards “overheating, sparking, smoking, catching fire and/or exploding.” These incidents resulted in more than 2 million in property damage.

Samsung Galaxy Phones

Samsung phones were so prone to exploding that they were eventually banned from airplanes. The phones weren’t manufactured with enough space between the battery’s separator and the electrodes, causing the cathodes and anodes to come in contact. Samsung was eventually forced to recall the Note 7. Overall, there were 92 cases of Galaxy Note fires, 26 burns, and 55 incidents of property damage.

But soon after the first Note 7’s exploded, it was clear that the problem was occurring in other Samsung models, like the S7 Edge.

An S7 Edge exploded in the of Daniel Ramirez while he was on a job site in Ohio. The explosion caused second and third-degree burns on his leg, groin, and lower back. is representing Daniel Ramirez in a lawsuit against Samsung.

Can I File a Lawsuit If My Electronic Device Caught Fire?

While lithium-ion batteries are a problem industry wide, it doesn’t mean that manufacturers are off the hook when it comes to product safety.

Consumers who have suffered physical harm or property damage after an electronic device caught fire may be eligible for compensation. Lawsuits filed against product manufacturers usually allege some combination of the following:

  • Failure to operate as marketed or advertised
  • Inadequate or absent instructions and warnings
  • Dangerous and defective condition, with a propensity to explode under normal conditions

If your electronic device caught fire unexpectedly, contact us today for a free, no-obligation legal review. Our attorneys have filed lawsuits against Samsung and e-cig manufacturers and have the experience to hold companies accountable for the harm they may have caused.

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