As the festive season approaches and the usual scramble for those last-minute gifts becomes a full-scale assault on your senses and your pocket, often overlooked but essential elements of today’s Christmas gifts are batteries.
From mobile phones, drones to electric bikes, so much of today’s world depends on high-capacity batteries most of which are made from lithium-ion.
As the world move towards more carbon neutral stance with power generated by more sustainable sources, the requirements for effective power storage have increased; however, with the increase in use comes an increase in risk.
Generating electricity creates heat, which can lead to battery fires — or even explosions., manufacturers test their products to the point of failure to ensure that they are safe in normal use and to see what abuse they can tolerate.
Newry firm Resonate Testing is at the forefront of battery testing. Whether it is testing batteries that will power satellites in Space, or dealing with more earth-bound technology, Managing Director Tom Mallon, is keen to stress the need for effective testing.
He said: “Battery testing is crucial. Most batteries are made up of lots of lithium-ion cells which are easy to charge, capable of storing large amounts of energy and delivering voltage up to three times higher than conventional batteries.
“If the battery or cell is damaged that energy can be released through a process called thermal runaway which releases tremendous amounts of energy in the form of heat which leads to fire and also the release of toxic vapour. This can have devasting consequences and tragically we have seen the results with a number of deaths in the UK caused by house fires started by battery fires.”
Another source of ignition could also be in accidental damage to your mobile phone battery. Tom explained: “If you’re used to carrying your phone in your back pocket and you were to sit on it breaking the battery that same process of thermal runaway could start and cause severe burns.”
He is keen to spread the message when it comes to battery safety whether they are in orbit or powering an e-bike or mobile phone, he said: “We have one of the best testing facilities anywhere in the British Isles. Our engineers have decades of experience between them, and we know what can happen when batteries fail.”
“My advice when buying your powered devices is to check that it has a proper UK kite mark and if you are buying replacement batteries to buy them from a reputable supplier and use only the charger provided by the manufacturer.”