Friday, December 2, 2016

Exploding E-Cigarette? Maybe Not.

“A worker at a wine store in Grand Central Terminal suffered burns to his hand and leg after an e-cigarette caught fire in his pocket,” according to a November 23rd ABC news story (here). 

This incident requires context.  Christopher E. Lalonde, a psychology professor at the University of Victoria in Canada with expertise on e-cigarette hardware, made the following comments:

“The device appears to be a Reuleaux RS200 model... It has various safety features designed to protect against such incidents: reverse battery protection, overheating/auto cut-off, battery venting, etc…Not foolproof by any means, but ‘e-cigs’ and ‘cellphones’ don’t explode, batteries do.

“The Reuleaux requires three 18650 batteries to operate. There appear to be six batteries in the photo — along with an assortment of metal coins.

“The three seemingly intact brown coloured batteries (far left, far right, and one remaining in the device) are likely LG 18650s that are recommended for use with this model.

“…I suspect the three silver coloured charred batteries are likely the cause of the explosion. If they were carried along with loose coins in the victim’s pocket, then the “e-cig” didn’t explode — the loose batteries did.” (my emphasis)

Professor Lalonde, while noting that he has “every sympathy for the unfortunate victim of this incident,” provided valuable insight by suggesting that, based on the photographic evidence, batteries interacting with pocket change was the likely cause of this explosion. 

Lithium ion batteries are essential for a wide range of electronic devices.  Consumers should use, charge and store them with care. 

1 comment:

Brad Rodu said...

Another incident in New York involving loose e-cigarette batteries: