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How to make batteries last longer and what causes them to EXPLODE

How to make batteries last longer and what causes them to EXPLODE

Smartphone technology is always marching forward, progressing rapidly with new hardware improvements with each iteration and model revision. Faster processors, fingerprint sensor, better cameras, waterproofing - the list goes on.

However, there's one essential hardware component that seems to be lagging behind - the battery. We are still waiting for that big technology breakthrough that will revolutionize how we go about charging (and discharging) our smartphones. For now, we are stuck with the current standard of batteries - lithium-ion.

So how do we make the most out of this current battery technology?

A video from the American Chemical Society looks to answer these questions.

Avoid heat

According to the video, due to how a lithium-ion battery's cathode, electrolyte and anode chemical reactions work, it's vital that users avoid heat as much as possible.

Never leave your phone in a hot car or under the sun because the heat speeds up the chemical reactions that make batteries lose their capacity. These reactions break down the electrolyte and reduce the number of accumulation of lithium ions on the anode, meaning the battery will have less capacity every time it's exposed to higher temperatures.

Heat can also cause a process they call "thermal runaway." In this condition, if the cathode gets hot enough, it starts a cycle of reactions that will produce even more heat. If the heat is sufficient enough to boil the liquid electrolyte in the battery, it will build up internal pressure until it finally explodes.

Don't let your phone drain down to zero

To make your smartphone's lithium-ion battery last longer, ACS's chemists suggest not to drain it down completely.

They explain in their video that lithium-ion batteries don't have the "memory effect" that older nickel batteries were prone to have. Nickel batteries had to be drained completely because they tend to forget part of their total capacity if they're not down to zero before recharging.

In lithium-ion batteries, it's the exact opposite. If you drain a lithium-ion battery down to zero, you are actually diminishing its capacity so they advise to just manually turn your phone off before it "dies."

Always store at 50 percent charge

If you're storing your phone unused for an extended amount of time, the chemists suggest keeping the battery charged at 50 percent before turning it off for storage.

For even longer periods, they recommend turning on the phone every six months or so and plugging it in to charge it back to 50 percent.

Lithium-ion batteries apparently have a tendency to destabilize if left discharged for a period of time. If destabilized, a lithium-ion battery could exhibit the thermal runaway effect and explode.

Fortunately, modern lithium-ion batteries have built-in self-destruct mechanisms that will kick in before destabilizing. If the self-destruct circuit is triggered, however, the battery will never be usable again.

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