I find this discussion very very disturbing.
Many of you are (in the words of Perry Mason) assuming "facts not in evidence"
Almost ANY charged battery, be it lead acid, nicad, or lith-ion or any other, PROBABLY HAS enough power to cause some sort of fire event IF SHORTED or otherwise overloaded heavily. I myself have caused minor burns to my fingers when thoughtlessly tossing AA batteries into my pocket along with change or keys.
Assuming facts not in evidence? Take your pick....No Easy Fix for Laptop Batteries
Business Week wrote:
SCIENCE LESSON. You may recall from chemistry class that lithium is a metal that burns spontaneously when exposed to air and explodes in the presence of water. Surprisingly, though, the lithium has little to do with the risks posed by batteries, since lithium is not normally present in its volatile metallic form. The danger is that the chemical reaction that generates electricity frees up oxygen. If the cell overheats, the oxygen combines with organic solvents in a nasty chemical fire that can be contained but not extinguished until the oxygen and fuel are spent.Lithium Polymer Batteries - An abundance of info
Dynamics Unlimited wrote:
When damaged, li-poly batteries bloat, which causes the batteries to self-diffuse. If the battery is in a hard case, or shrink-wrapped into a pack of batteries, the electrodes won't separate, which will cause batteries to continue to get hot and possibly explode.BATTERY ALERT - WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
Report compiled by Elemer and Diane Nyiry wrote:
Lithium is a HAZARDOUS PRODUCT - and as such transportation is subjected to strictBattery Safety/Quality/Testing and Materials
regulation. Avoidance or attempt to contravene those regulations will result in incredibly heavy
fines by Civil Aviation Authorities and Departments of Transport. The danger is REAL when a
lithium battery is subjected to strong impact or shocks, it will get HOT.... IGNITE or worse ....
EXPLODE. Serious accidents, personal injuries and fires have already been recorded.
Discharged or over-discharged batteries present the same dangers - no-one wants to be
responsible for bringing down a passenger or freight airline.......
Battery Digest Website wrote:
What happens when 7 Ah Lithium-ion cells are overcharged? Yardney/Lithion presented test results which showed that 4.7 Volt overcharge causes the cathodes to undergo an exothermic reaction with the electrolyte which can produce enough internal pressure to open the burst disk and cause fire and/or explosion. (Ed. Note: BD commends Yardney/Lithion for presenting the true dangers which exist in Lithium-ion batteries. This is not to condemn Lithium-ion as unsafe, but to highlight conditions which require excellence of design, testing and validation of all systems using this chemistry.)Safety concerns
Lithium-ion batteries can easily rupture, ignite, or explode when exposed to high temperatures, or direct sunlight. They should not be stored in a car during hot weather. Short-circuiting a Li-ion battery can cause it to ignite or explode. Never open a Li-ion battery's casing. Li-ion batteries contain safety devices that protect the cells inside from abuse. If damaged, these can also cause the battery to ignite or explode.
"It is possible to replace the lithium cobalt oxide cathode material in li-ion batteries with lithiated metal phosphate cathodes that don’t explode and even have a longer shelf life. But for the moment these safer li-ion batteries seem mainly destined for electric cars and other large-capacity applications, where the safety issues are more critical... The fact is that lithiated metal phosphate batteries hold only about 75 percent as much power..."
This is just what I found on short notice. The danger from lithium batteries is not limited to heat generated from an electical short. The danger also lies in the flammable nature of lithium and its compounds, as well as in the oxygen generation that occurs on chemical breakdown.
I do agree that many here are quick to jump to conclusions on the ThinkPad incident. However I don't believe ThinkPads to be immune from such a thing occurring.