Swelling battery

Discussion in 'Droid RAZR' started by TJ Hanna, Mar 3, 2012.

  1. gravestonemyth
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    gravestonemyth New Member

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    My swelling battery

    I just noticed mine swelling this week. I tether a lot and it routinely gets warm but this is new. I've even had overheat warnings with it in the dashboard mount (all Motorola chargers, etc.) but this just started. I did run it nearly dead a couple of weeks ago - I heard elsewhere that recharging from completely dead can trigger swelling. Whatever the case, I called Verizon and they're sending out a "Factory Refurbished" phone, no questions asked. I'm guessing they're seeing lots of these and they watch the news too. The 787 Dreamliner issue has gotten everyone freaked out about Lion batteries.
    View attachment 61613
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2013
  2. xtor
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    xtor Well-Known Member

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    I got out my old dx for my daughter to play games on and the screen had a spot on it, i pulled the rear cover and the batt was swollen, so i got a batt out of the wifes old dx and put it in and everything works fine, guess I'll by a 5- batt for the x so my daughter can us it for games, i hope this doesn't happen to our razr's

    razr on 215 leak
  3. TJ_SITP
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    TJ_SITP New Member

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    I work for an educational program that uses about 23 Thunderbolts. We began with approximately 40 thunderbolts but they started dying on us one by one. The common issue seemed to be the bloated batteries described in this thread. Some of the phones work ok if I switch out the battery but many don't work at all anymore. We have to store the phones for long periods (weeks, months) and after the last month or so of not being used I pulled them out to find that about five more phones had bloated batteries and marks on the center of the screens.

    I know the phones are dated now but we would still like to be able to use them. However, I am greatly concerned about the potential that these batteries could explode in the hands of our students or on the charging station which could potentially burn down our office! Can anyone give me an explanation of how dangerous these phones are and if there was ever a recall by the company? I plan to contact the company directly but would like to hear from you first. I need to gather this information so my bosses can determine if these phones can be used again. Right now they are all off and in storage and will be well away from our students until deemed safe.

    Thanks!
  4. xtor
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    xtor Well-Known Member

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    The best person to answer your question would be foxkat

    sent from a note yee
  5. eidian
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    eidian Member

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    I read that there are some pretty serious dangers once the battery starts to swell up like that. But besides the danger of explosion or fire, the charge life on those batteries sucks once it starts to swell. When I noticed that the battery in my Razr was starting to swell the phone would run hot no matter how little I used it (stayed cool in stand by mode). But once the battery bloated so much that the kevlar back separated from the plastic edge, the batter charge sucked. I would be down to like 40% charge left in only 90 minutes of being in stand by mode. I was constantly carrying external chargers and would just be pissed that the phone would expend the charge from two external batteries (one of them had something like an 8500 mAh capacity). I finally converted my phone with one of those Maxx kits and haven't looked back since.

    I would consider changing the batteries or dumping the phones all together based on charge life alone.
  6. TJ_SITP
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    TJ_SITP New Member

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    Thanks for the info, do you happen to remember where you read about the batteries. I need to find some kind of documentation that clearly states the dangers. The battery life was a big problem for us as it required me taking a bunch of chargers into the classroom but once we stopped using wi-fi to upload I switched the phones over to air-plane mode which worked for our purposes and doubled the battery life. Just enough to get through the day for us. It sounds like the batteries are only unsafe once they start bloating, would you agree?
  7. JohnnytheK
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    JohnnytheK Well-Known Member

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  8. FoxKat
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    FoxKat DF Super Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

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    For the benefit of everyone, I've copied a post I made recently to someone who will remain nameless... It answers the concerns posted here;

    Thanks for taking time to bring to light your situation. I've written about this MANY times to the forums, which is (one of the reasons), why I've been sorta called the "expert". Honestly all I am really good at is researching and then taking that very technical information and filtering it down to a simple explanation that is easy for the layperson to follow. If that makes me an expert, then so be it! LOL!

    As for swollen batteries... The actual function of charging a battery under any condition generates gasses. In a car battery for instance, they used to have removable caps and you filled them with water since over time the water in the cells would evaporate as a part of the charging process. The caps had small vents which allowed the Hydrogen and Oxygen gasses to escape so they wouldn't build up pressure. In later battery designs, the engineers figured out how to minimize the evaporation by placing a thick piece of cotton pad in the caps so the moisture as it tries to escape is caught on the cotton fibers and re-introduces itself back into the battery cells, while the gasses escape naturally. They call these "Sealed Lead-Acid Batteries" (not to be confused with Sealed Gel Cells).

    The same holds true to a certain extent with nearly all rechargeable batteries. The one exception to this is the Lithium Ion Polymer Pouch Cell battery packs (LIPO Pouch), the type used in today's cell phones. It is really no different in how it works than other types of rechargeable batteries in that it too gives off gasses as it recharges, however it is much less than a Lead-Acid battery for instance. So as a part of the manufacturing process, they are initially charged before being sealed, so that as much gas as is produced in the charging process as possible can be relieved before the pouches are sealed. The thought is that as long as the battery is never over-charged, or never over-discharged, but used within the ranges set forth by the manufacturer, the battery will only generate a nominal amount of gas and any expansion will be likewise nominal, and upon the discharge cycle the gas generated would be re-absorbed back into the chemistry of the battery so the net result would be virtually no net expansion. So once they are initially charged at the factory, they are hermetically sealed (heat press to melt plastic together), and they are no longer "vented"​

    Unfortunately as batteries age, the chemistry inside which comprises the batteries begins to break down and the cycle becomes less and less efficient, leaving more and more net gas buildup. This should still not be a problem for most applications, as long as the battery is only being exercised within its specifications. The real problem comes from either excessively charging, charging improperly such as in extreme heat, or deep-discharging...any of which can cause the chemistry to break down quicker, thereby accelerating the battery's ultimate demise. In the process excess gasses begin to build up and this is what causes the pouch to begin to bulge.

    Once it's bulged more than perhaps 10% to 15% of its nominal thickness, a LIPO battery is generally regarded as unstable and should be retired. If allowed to continue to expand over time, it can begin to build up what are called "shunts" internally - electrical connections that essentially short the two poles and cause an internal conduction. This begins to heat the battery up, and can eventually cause what is called a "thermal meltdown" or "runaway", and this is what can result in the pack expanding rapidly, heating up to extreme temperatures, and eventually to bursting in a violent eruption and spewing a hot flaming gas that is several thousand degrees - potentially touching off fires and causing bodily harm.

    The potential causes of batteries becoming volatile and dangerous...

    The batteries could be defective.
    They could have been damaged by impact (such as a puncture or depression).
    They could have been discharged at too high a current.
    They could have been discharged to too low a voltage.
    They could have been charged at too high a rate.

    Let's talk about what makes a pack swollen to begin with...

    The pack is made out of a thin skin of aluminum -- very much like aluminum foil you might find in your kitchen...but laminated with a flexible but very strong polymer (plastic). When the pack is damaged, gasses begin to build up inside the pack. There is no where for the gas to escape, so the pack "blows up like a balloon".

    That gas is LOOKING for an exit. As pressure builds, an exit will form at a weak spot in the aluminum foil and plastic "envelope" or pouch, and you will have a fire hazard on your hands!

    A VERY well-known vendor... EVERYONE would recognize the name if I said it, and I bet many of you are within reach of a product from this vendor right now... Anyway, they had problems with some of the units EXPLODING for no reason. They ultimately determined some of the lithium button cells inside the units had internal shorts (those shunts I mentioned earlier) -- over time, they would balloon, and EXPLODE with the force of a 12-gauge shotgun shell!!! [​IMG]

    Please -- get rid of any swollen packs as quickly as possible. (Unless you plan to intentionally "set one off", like an explosive...) [​IMG]

    I would say that for the most part, only a very small percentage, well under the 1% range of cells put into service may have manufacturing defects that could potentially over time result in the issues mentioned above, but the fact is that as long as the problem isn't ignored, no matter what the actual cause, and the batteries are disposed of safely and properly, there is no cause for alarm...but do NOT allow such batteries to simply "hang around", as they are able to self-destruct even if left untouched for months or more. Instead, get them out doors, and if you must keep them, make sure they are in a protected containment so that if they do self-destruct, nobody is at risk or in harm's way.









    Last edited: Jul 12, 2013
  9. TJ_SITP
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    TJ_SITP New Member

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    Thanks everyone for your help and insights especially FoxKat for your detailed response.

    I contacted the company and received an e-mail that had a non-disclosure footnote so I can't copy and paste or describe in detail what they said but it was reassuring that the batteries are safe if used correctly and in 'normal use' and also that the bloating is a normal thing, that indicates the end of the battery's life cycle. So once they start bloating it is time to replace them and dispose of the bloated one correctly and safely.

    The part about getting rid of the bloated battery was the crucial part for me because we have several bloated batteries we thought would be ok if not charged. I am going to get rid of them today but the phones serve our purpose well and will continue to use them with new fresh batteries.

    Thanks again.
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