Recently, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning letter to the hoverboard retailers, importers, and manufacturers that if the product doesn’t meet the product safety standards then it will be detained from the market. The letter also included the pieces of evidence of the recent loss of more than 2 million dollars in property damage caused by 52 hoverboard fires.
K.M. Abraham, a research professor at Northeastern University’s Center of Renewable Energy Technologies, penned a technical commentary on why hoverboard explodes and what is the role of lithium batteries in their combustion. He also explained why other devices based on the same technology aren’t experiencing the same problem.
The manufacturers of other devices using the same battery like smartphones, laptops, electric cars, etc. use the batteries of some of the experienced and learned manufacturers. They know how to produce the batteries in such a way that the balance between power produced and consumed by the device is maintained. When the balance is compromised, there can be a release of a large store of energy leading to an explosion. The race to feed the hoverboard race has led to manufacturers using defective material.
It is said that one bad fish can destroy the whole pond. Similarly, a bad part can destroy the whole device. In lithium batteries, if anode and cathode are not engineered correctly or separator is imperfect, a short circuit can happen. When it happens the electrolyte heats up and may result in instability of anode and cathode. The temperature may rise to the boiling point leading to battery ejecting its hot content, which can catch fire when it comes to the contact of oxygen in the atmosphere. The over usage of hoverboard can also pose a risk of straining the electrode and ratcheting up the internal heat.
To avoid such danger, the professor suggested that one should make sure that batteries are made with quality material, properly engineered and are tested for use as a hoverboard specifically.