What Made the Headphone Battery Explode?

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

The media are in a scrum over the incident of the airplane passenger who fell asleep listening on her headphones. This is most unfortunate. We extend our commiserations for the shock she must have felt when her headphone battery exploded. Our best advice is not to fall asleep near any  lithium device, especially when it is charging. That is, until scientists have found a way to solve the problem.

The Fundamental Difficulty is Aging Batteries

Scientists have made good progress with managing the lithium-ion process better. They have even developed a fire extinguisher capsule to end lithium battery fires before they spread. However the dwell time to get inventions to market is often months, if not years. Thus in the meantime their discovery counts for little for consumers.

What May Have Caused the Headphone Battery Problem

headphone battery

EHT Headphone Speaker: Rohitbd: CC 3.0

Lithium-ion batteries contain electrodes that are actually bad companions. However when we manage them correctly, they contribute to a superbly effective battery.

The ‘umpire’ is a thin polymer sheet with nano-holes punched through it for the ions to pass through. Provided everything goes according to the rules then all is well.

The lithium industry faces a legacy that is difficult to deal with. This legacy is millions upon millions of lithium batteries well past their sell-by-dates. They began to degrade the moment they left the factory.

Lithium-battery design life is nominally two years, by which time they are not nearly as effective. They are also two years behind technology at that point.

We Need a Fresh Consumer Mind Set to Sort This Out

headphone battery

Lithium-Ion Cell: Mk2010: CC 3.0

As a species, we are awfully bad at replacing things before they wear out. We run our auto tires down to the wear marks, and we wear a favorite tee shirt with unraveling threads.

We do not want to pre-judge the headphone battery saga and so we wait for the report.

In the interim, our advice is simple. Be in the room when a lithium-ion battery is charging or recharging. And replace it at the first sign of overheating, especially  if a headphone battery or any other wearable. That way we manage the situation responsibly and should not encounter a problem. The probability of a particular lithium battery catching fire is extremely low.


Is This the End of Lithium Battery Fires?

Restriction on Shipping Lithium Batteries

Preview Image: Airline Passengers


About Author


I tripped over a shrinking bank balance and fell into the writing gig unintentionally. This was after I escaped the corporate world and searched in vain for ways to become rich on the internet by doing nothing. Despite the fact that writing is no recipe for wealth, I rather enjoy it. I will not deny I am obsessed with it when I have the time. My base is Umtentweni in South Africa on the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast (30.7167° S, 30.4667° E). I work from home where I ponder on the future of the planet, and what lies beyond in the great hereafter. Sometimes I step out of my computer into the silent riverine forests, and empty golden beaches for which the area is renowned.

Leave A Reply