Safety Last

by:CTECHi     2019-12-02
By ROBERT X. CRINGELYSEPT.
2006 Charleston, S. C. -
Apple and Dell have recalled about 6 million lithium in the past two weeks-
Ion batteries that power laptops.
The batteries made by Sony have a nasty problem: they are prone to explosions.
While as consumers, we may wonder why the batteries sold by suppliers are placed in pockets and briefcases with greater energy storage density than explosives, recent history suggests, we can accept almost any risk of gaining more power. Lithium-
Ions are just the latest in a series of relatively toxic rechargeable battery technologies, each designed to pack more available electrons in smaller packages
The ion touched the ground five times, and the explosion was damn.
Early charging batteries were mainly nickelcadmium (
If it\'s short, these will also explode. circuited)and nickel-metal-hydride (
You have the most benign rechargeable battery in your Toyota Prius (natch). In most li-
Ion batteries, whether over-charging or manufacturing defects in plastic films, separating the anode and cathode of the battery will cause the battery metal tank to explode and release steam at temperatures of up to 600 degrees.
If this happens on the computer where you rest on your knee, it will be a very bad day;
Fortunately, computers get hot before they explode.
Trust me, even if you write your conclusions about the great American novel, you will know that something will happen. In a worst-
In this case, the metal lithium itself will explode in the battery, causing flames and heat.
Fortunately, for Sony, these flames mainly occur on another battery variety called lithium. Polymer, not li-ion.
No one in the ad makes batteries and wants them to explode in normal use.
But just like Ford knew about the explosion of the flatbed gas tank, Lee
Ion battery manufacturers know that a small fraction of their batteries could explode statistically.
They still sell these batteries because they have calculated that there will be very few failures.
This is done with M. T. B. F.
, Or the average time between two failures.
Advertising method M. T. B. F.
Being measured has nothing to do with how the battery is used in the real world. It is a sham.
Random battery samples, such as 1,000, are placed in the target device for use until one or more batteries fail for any reason.
If it takes 100 hours for the first battery to fail, then MT. B. F.
Set to 100,000 hours--
That said, 1,000 times 100, this is a formula that basically doesn\'t make sense, but for all the people involved, this is a satisfactory number, which means that if your phone explodes, it is likely to explode after thousands of hours of use.
However, it is unlikely that your battery will last that long. Li-
In fact, Ion batteries age from the moment they are made and have barely lived their third birthday. (
The battery won\'t explode when they get old, they just stop working. )
Only 26,280 hours in three years, if we really believe in M. T. B. F. fairy our li-
The ion battery will never explode.
But of course they will. -
Sony now lost about $0. 2 billion to replace 6 million of it.
Li\'s life expectancy is limited
Ion batteries were a rude blow to early Apple ipod buyers as Apple ipod didn\'tremovable li-ion batteries. Silly people --
They think they buy a long-lived device.
The life expectancy of mobile phones is about 18 months, which makes them seem to be against the catastrophic li-
They don\'t have an ion battery failure.
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One might think that we will be working on safer technology and we are trying to do that. Safer lithium-
Ion batteries are available, but computer and cell phone manufacturers, now cheating on the market based on call times and battery life, have decided that we don\'t need them.
From the way we use these devices recklessly while driving, the manufacturer may be right about our risk tolerance.
It is possible to replace lithium cobalt oxide cathode material in li-
Ion batteries with an unexploded or even longer shelf life lithium metal phosphate cathode.
But for now, these safer Lee
Ion batteries seem to be used mainly for electric cars and other large cars
More critical capacity applications for security issues. (
The explosion power part is a function of the battery volume.
A wrong phone may burn your hips, but a li-
An ion hybrid that is damaged in a collision could kill someone).
In fact, the power of the lithium metal phosphate battery is only about 75%, and we have decided (or the li-
The ion company has decided for us)
When it comes to talk time, we \'d rather take the risk.
Of course, there are other emerging energy sources --
Technology of generation and storage. Ultra-
If it is still a few years away from the market, the capacitors made with carbon nanotubes look good.
We can use fuel cells, but this may require the storage of compressed, highly explosive hydrogen in our laptops.
Direct methanol fuel cells can run your phone on vodka, but they can leak in your pocket.
It is wise to claim that we will never be satisfied with any bandwidth or battery life.
But every new advance in energy storage seems to give us a Faust-style choice, and we are always on the side of the Devil: knowledge (talk-or surfing-time)over safety.
Call time with one-increased by 30%in-10-
Risking being burned to death? No problem.
Still, perhaps our demand for speed is limited.
If we wait long enough, we will have a battery that stores energy directly in a nucleus like nium that is identical to a split proton and a medium.
178, transfer the energy density of the plutonium bomb to our mobile phone.
That should be enough. Op-
Ed writer Robert X.
Cringely is the host of PBS NerdTV.
We are constantly improving the quality of text archives.
Please send feedback, error reports, and suggestions to archid_feedback @ nytimes. com.
A version of this op
Ed was printed on page A00017 of the National edition on September 1, 2006 with the title: Last page of safety.
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