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Dell's Exploding Laptop Autopsy 141

Posted by Zonk
from the determining-the-cause-of-aaaughh dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Dell has gone to the Consumer Product Safety Commission looking for help determining the cause of death for its exploding laptop. Dell has been blaming the lithium ion battery; the commission seems to have had a few problems with those batteries in the past."
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Dell's Exploding Laptop Autopsy

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  • by dubmun (891874) * on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:35PM (#15722451) Homepage Journal
    The Inquirer published a letter to the editor on July 4, purportedly from a second Dell customer (identified only as "Rich S.," an IT administrator from Pittsburgh) who suffered an exploding laptop.
    Maybe it is time for Dell to think about issuing a recall before someone gets hurt. Just think if someone was using their laptop near a other flamable/explosive substances when suddenly BOOM!
    • by andrewman327 (635952) on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:43PM (#15722488) Homepage Journal
      Actually, they already have lists of the affected batteries online. They apply to many manufacturers, and not to some Dell computers. I will try to dig up the link, as this is not at all a direct problem with Dell.


      Computer companies make almost none of their own parts, and keeping track of what comes from where must be a nightmare. Dell will change battery type (maybe battery manufacturer as well) and this problem will start going away in new laptops. Hopefully the old ones will have battery recalls for the most dangerous types, but the recall will affect many companies.

      • Links! (Score:5, Informative)

        by andrewman327 (635952) on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:50PM (#15722526) Homepage Journal
        For once my local NBC affiliate is really on the ball. They had a story about "exploding laptop batteries" months ago. I can't find the actual story, but here are two related links:

        1. HP laptops burning [nbc10.com]
        2. Cooked Apples [nbc10.com]
      • Actually it is a direct problem with Dell. It may be a problem with more companies as well, but as a purchaser of Dell I could care less about those.

        Blaming the battery is laughable. I guess what Dell is trying to say is that they [Dell] don't add any value to the parts the sell!?
        • by Traiklin (901982) on Friday July 14, 2006 @09:37PM (#15723091) Homepage
          Blaming the battery is laughable. I guess what Dell is trying to say is that they [Dell] don't add any value to the parts the sell!?
          and what happens if it is the battery that is to blame? Like the summery says this isn't the first time Lithium Ion batteries have caused problems.

          I dislike dell as much as the next guy (mainly I am tired of all prebuilt PC's anymore, they are so locked down and full of useless shit that I can't properly upgrade them) but when something isn't a company's fault then they shouldn't get the blame for it.

          I remember cell phones were blowing up in peoples pockets and when they were using them, was it the cell phone makers fault? no cause they said it was the batteries and it was proven to be the batteries, Was it laughable that they were blaming batteries instead of taking the blame for making a phone out of lower value parts?
          • I agree with you 100%. I used to work for a Lithium Ion Manufacturer for 4 years, and have seen first hand cells sponaneously combust. The R&D department is under so much pressure to increase the capacity of the cells, that they sometimes create an unstable product. Our biggest problem (2 years ago) was trying to get the components to not short against eachother when you cram them all into the can. Sure, each cell was x-rayed and inspected twice, but when you get an underpaid operator looking at pic
          • I remember cell phones were blowing up [...]they said it was the batteries and it was proven to be the batteries,
            IIRC the issue was cheap aftermarket batteries that were outside the control of the phone manufacturer.
            • ...cheap aftermarket batteries...

              Not deliberately trying to be cynical but manufacturers always blame third party batteries. Sony are particularly vocal. What this shows is that ANY LiIon battery is capable of catching fire and always will be until they remove the Lithium from them.
              • Not deliberately trying to be cynical but manufacturers always blame third party batteries. Sony are particularly vocal.

                Very true. My Ericsson T68mc screen lights up "Charging Alien Battery" if it doesn't have a genuine Ericsson battery when you plug it in. Great way to scare people who don't know any better.
      • This [chicagotribune.com] was in the Chicago Tribune a couple of days ago. From the Tribune:

        But there have been numerous reports of property damage, including fires like the one at Pablo Ortega's house in Selma, Calif., a town near Fresno.

        Ortega's wife and 19-year-old son arrived home one evening in January 2005 to find their house full of smoke.

        When firefighters arrived, the fire was out. But the living room had been destroyed, according to safety commission records. Fire investigators found the charred remains of a Motorola

      • Computer companies make almost none of their own parts, and keeping track of what comes from where must be a nightmare

        This is an example of what's wrong with big companies these days -- always passing the buck. It's always someone else's fault. Blame another department. Blame a vendor. Blame a subcontractor. Never take responsibility for the product they put their name on. They're more than happy to take a customer's money for a new "Dell" (or whatever) computer, but when something goes wrong, sudde
        • "The fact that people buy into this attitude and think it's OK, and make excuses for it shows how widespread it is, and what a problem it's become."

          I am not trying to excuse Dell of any responsibility. Instead of blaming their contractors, vendors, and suppliers, Dell is taking this event very seriously. As TFA says, they are actively trying to find out what exactly went wrong. Dell accepts that this tarnishes their already less than sterling public image and that the buck needs to stop with them. T

    • For example, I know someone who works in the oil industry out in Alberta and drags a laptop around from site to site to help keep track of stats. I don't know how many issues they have with fumes at the rigs, but I can easily believe that an exploding laptop would cause problems.
      • by andrewman327 (635952) on Friday July 14, 2006 @07:22PM (#15722668) Homepage Journal
        "For example, I know someone who works in the oil industry out in Alberta and drags a laptop around from site to site to help keep track of stats. I don't know how many issues they have with fumes at the rigs, but I can easily believe that an exploding laptop would cause problems."


        Those computers are generally ruggidized to MilSpec (military specifications). Instead of using your friendly neighborhood Dell, he is probably using a Toughbook or similar unit. These are designed to operate without actually bringing air inside. There are a lot of rumours of these things actually stopping bullets in Iraq, though I can't seem to find a picture. I imagine that the batteries are just as tough, considering the operating enviroments they are designed for.

        • Bulletproof Laptop (Score:5, Informative)

          by SPQR_Julian (967179) on Friday July 14, 2006 @08:46PM (#15722945)
          It took me some creative digging, but I found what you were talkingabout. I remember seeing the article in Popular Mechanics a couple years back when it first came out. http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/compute rs/1279251.html [popularmechanics.com]
          • Wow, and I thought that I was a good researcher! Good searching. That is what I was talking about as far as oil field electronics systems and other rugged and sensative applications.
        • "Those computers are generally ruggidized to MilSpec"

          ..aaah, not so much. I worked in the gold industry in Australia on and off for 10 years, and while you did indeed see the occasional toughbook, it was usually in the hands of that industry's answer to the PHB, busily showing off his uselessly-expensive new toy and never seeing a spec of dust; more rarely in the hands of a geologist in remote exploration camps. Actual production sites (ie places where we actually bogged dirt out of the ground) used the
          • At least gold doesn't burn for years when your cheap laptop battery blows up next to it. Actually the greater risk with portable electronics, be it a laptop, cell phone or even a walkie-talkie, is not so much the battery or risk of combustion, but the actual electrical contacts.. the reason you can't use your cell phone at the gas pump is because some years ago, one guy's cell phone battery was loose and there were tiny little sparks between the battery's contact surfaces. The phone didn't blow up or any
            • the reason you can't use your cell phone at the gas pump is because some years ago, one guy's cell phone battery was loose and there were tiny little sparks between the battery's contact surfaces.

              This has been debunked as an urban legend on international television at least once (Mythbusters). The real risk as far as anyone can tell is re-entering or exiting a vehicle after refuelling has commenced, causing a static buildup that was then discharged But we've known this for years. Which is why gas pump

          • That does not inspire confidence in the industry. As always I am glad that there are people who work so hard to make our day-to-day lives possible.


            A fire in an enclosed space would really suck, to put it bluntly. O2 is a precious commodity underground, and exploding batteries wouldn't help.

        • Actually, people who do well-site testing here in AB don't need a toughbook, as they run tests far enough away and don't really need to get their 'hands dirty'. Most have a slickline truck (they look like airport firetrucks) that sits off the well and recieves all the data from instruments currently down well. Then all that data gets loaded to a memory stick of some sort, then off to either a laptop or gets put on CD for the wellsite analyst. Most slickline trucks have an outdated PC or laptop that does all
        • I'm currently interning with Schlumberger, an oilfield services company, and while I have seen a few toughbooks, they're being used as servers for remote realtime log viewing. The engineers on hand all have regular old thinkpads. The biggest hazard I've seen to computers on these sites (summertime on Alaska's North Slope) by far is dust. The oil companies are really emphasizing safety these days, trying to fix their rather maligned image. Because of that, you're not going to see fumes unless something is go
        • Unfortunatly for the employees of a nameless major oil company, laptops have been standerized across the workforce. And that means Latitude Laptops on the rigs!
        • Those computers are generally ruggidized to MilSpec (military specifications). Instead of using your friendly neighborhood Dell,...

          In general, they probably are Dells or maybe IBM/Lenovos. For the most part, the industry has "ruggedized" computers for some very specialized apps (such as mounting them on forklifts), but in the field, they emphasize safe behaviors - i.e., know which areas are classified as explosive and don't use certain equipment there. There will be a lot of people that say that human nat
    • Its a publicity stunt for the upcoming Mi:4 Movie... This message and laptop will self destruct in 45 seconds.
    • Dell should not sell "laptops" anymore, since it may burn your lap. Should it called "tabletop" or "mini-desktop" again?
      Speaking of batteries, mobile phones also prone to battery explosion according to a few old news article, and I don't want to burn my pocket/legs when using those phones...
    • Does this mean that my hot-running Inspiron is now a terrorist weapon (aside from the fact that it runs Windows)?
  • by yourOneManArmy (986080) on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:36PM (#15722457)
    I think you mean lithium ion cannon.
  • Li-Po use in RC (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Spiked_Three (626260) on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:46PM (#15722501)
    I play with a lot of R/C stuff - planes, helicopters etc. And the warnings about Li-Po batteries are pretty explicit. If you where to crash a plane with a Li-PO you need to set the battery in a fire proof container and keep an eye on it for an hour or so. Also never charge Li-Po un-attended - people have burned down houses because of it.

    I suspect the laptop had a hard drop sometime in the not to distant past, got picked up, put on charge and kaboom.

    The question is what is the right thing to do? Ban the batteries or make better efforts in consumer education? In the R/C hobby we are smart enough (well the majority anyhow) to treat Li-Pos with respect - but consumer laptops, that's somewhat scary.

    http://www.laureanno.com/RC/fire-pics.htm [laureanno.com]
    • Re:Li-Po use in RC (Score:2, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745)
      it's not that you are 'smart enough' it's that peoplec are about there hobby, usually to a miniscule scale.

      I was surprised to find they where putting these in laptops.
      To answer your question, ban them from laptops. No governemtnregulation will be needed because I believe the risk od using these batteries is high then expected and that will cause the laptop manufacturers from producing them, eventually.

      And yeah, those batteries can get HOT.
    • by p51d007 (656414) on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:52PM (#15722534)
      Kind of reminds me of an old saturday night live skit....... Warning: Pregnant women, the elderly, and children should avoid prolonged exposure to Happy Fun Ball. Caution: Happy Fun Ball may suddenly accelerate to dangerous speeds. Happy Fun Ball contains a liquid core, which if exposed due to rupture should not be touched, inhaled, or looked at. Do not use Happy Fun Ball on concrete. Discontinue use of Happy Fun Ball if any of the following occurs: * Itching * Vertigo * Dizziness * Tingling in extremities * Loss of balance or coordination * Slurred speech * Temporary blindness * Profuse Sweating or * Heart palpitations If Happy Fun Ball begins to smoke, get away immediately. Seek shelter and cover head. Happy Fun Ball may stick to certain types of skin. When not in use, Happy Fun Ball should be returned to its special container and kept under refrigeration. Failure to do so relieves the makers of Happy Fun Ball, Wacky Products Incorporated, and its parent company, Global Chemical Unlimited, of any and all liability. Ingredients of Happy Fun Ball include an unknown glowing substance which fell to Earth, presumably from outer space. Happy Fun Ball has been shipped to our troops in Saudi Arabia and is also being dropped by our warplanes on Iraq. Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball. Happy Fun Ball comes with a lifetime guarantee.
    • Re:Li-Po use in RC (Score:1, Informative)

      by weeboo0104 (644849)
      That's why I still use NiCd's in my RC cars. I wasn't happy with the NiMH's because they were not very tolerent of high temps caused by either changing or discharging.

      Although it probabley would have been cool to watch an RC truck roll over and burn during our races.
    • Re:Li-Po use in RC (Score:5, Insightful)

      by asuffield (111848) <asuffield@suffields.me.uk> on Friday July 14, 2006 @07:55PM (#15722783)
      And the warnings about Li-Po batteries are pretty explicit. ... In the R/C hobby we are smart enough (well the majority anyhow) to treat Li-Pos with respect - but consumer laptops, that's somewhat scary.


      Every consumer laptop comes with a thick book stating that each and every component may catch fire, explode, fail to work, cause the end of the world, kill your dog, or any number of other things, and it's your own damn fault if that happens and the manufacturer is not responsible. This means that nobody pays any attention to the 'safety' warnings, because 99% of them are total nonsense.

      Consumer education is impossible until the manufacturers stop crying wolf about everything.
      • Manufacturers are crying wolf about everything because if they don't and one appears, they will have one hell of a lawsuit on their hands.
        • Think about that carefully: if the manufacturer makes a product with a dangerous defect, they are excused from responsibility by producing a long list of all possible classes of defects that they can imagine occurring.

          How is that supposed to make any kind of sense? Certainly this is not actually protecting anybody from product defects.
          • Thats not the point I am getting at. Take agood look at all the multitude of warnings on your everyday devices and dells. The majority of them are common sense. The majority of them a company has been sued because of them before. Who is really at fault now? Granted people gloss over warnings because they have a laundry list of common sense things but they are there Because.... Someone didn't know if they dropped thier dell out of a moving car it would break, or that hot coffee actually might scald you if y
      • Every consumer laptop comes with a thick book stating that each and every component may catch fire, explode, fail to work, cause the end of the world, kill your dog, or any number of other things

        The underwater housing for my digital camera warns that improper use can lead to risk of fire. (I had to read it twice.)

        It also warns that the housing should not be used as a personal flotation device... I'd like to see the incidents that led to these disclaimers.
    • I didn't even know about this. I am pretty sure a lot of people wouldn't know this either.
    • Also it's worth mentioning that Lithium batteries are susceptible to problems from overcharging and low voltage draw. I've had a Li-po battery almost explode (http://brightpanda.com/images/robots/0/exploded_l i-po_small.jpg), luckily it just ballooned. But this doesn't surprise me at all. The more energy we try to place inside a container for later use on demand the more potentially volatile it becomes. It's hard to get around that.

      • I have a battery that I haven't used for 6 months.

        I didn't over charge it, it wasn't damaged, I just stopped using the phone. I had removed the battery to get at the sim card (for transfer to a new phone) and left it on a shelf. It wasn't in direct sunlight, and the temperature never gets above 25/30 degrees in the room. Yet after 6 months of inactivity, it looks like this. [headru.sh]

        The photos don't do the distortion justice, it has ballooned by roughly 50% of its thickness. I'm a little unsure of how to dispose of

    • by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Friday July 14, 2006 @08:47PM (#15722950)
      I work with Lion and Li-Poly batteries at work and in R/C.

      I find the RC folks are reckless when it comes to Li batteries. At work, the device that uses the battery has an overvoltage, over temp and undervoltage cutout in hardware in addition to overvoltage, over temp and undervoltage cutouts in software. The battery also has a hardware overcurrent and undervoltage cutout on the cell. This is because the device maker cannot afford to trust the battery and the battery maker cannot afford to trust the device maker, because LIons are just too sensitive to temp, voltage and current.

      RC folks meanwhile typically have software undervoltage cutouts but no hardware cutouts on the device. They remove the hardware cutouts on the cell. They use separate chargers that have software overvoltage and overcurrent cutouts and no temp cutouts.

      They are many many more times at risk than a consumer device. They get away with it by being careful themselves and because there are 1/100000th as many RC devices as consumer devices.

      As to your thing that batteries can blow up after having been in a crash, I don't know where that comes from. Unless the integrity of the pack is compromised, this won't happen. They don't turn into bombs merely by being shaken. If they did, you'd have exploding cell phones everywhere.

      Your charger should monitor the temp, current and voltage during charging. If a pack has developed an internal short due to physical damage, it should stop charging. But again, RC chargers seem to be less careful.

      (I have an Orbit Microlader. Earlier units were even more primitive!)
      • by Fishead (658061) on Friday July 14, 2006 @10:59PM (#15723335)
        "As to your thing that batteries can blow up after having been in a crash, I don't know where that comes from. Unless the integrity of the pack is compromised, this won't happen. They don't turn into bombs merely by being shaken. If they did, you'd have exploding cell phones everywhere."

        If the cell dents, there is a possibility that the Anode can short to the Cathode through the thin insulative seperator. This will cause a short that the pack/device has no control over and you get fireworks.

        Or, the guts of the cell can shift and press into the bottom and short.

        Or (much less likely) if there is some impurity in the mix, it can cause it to shift and puncture the thin seperator.

        The cells are actually designed to permanently disconnect inside under certain circumstances to prevent (or at least minimize) crashing airplanes and killing children.
        • Yes, they can blow.

          But you have to puncture the separator to short, not just smush the cell, that's why it's a separator.

          I'm not saying a cell can't be compromised. I'm not saying a cell can't be compromised in a way that causes the next physical shock to cause a meltdown. I'm saying putting the cell in a non-flammable tub for an hour after a crash is pointless. Cells do not turn into bombs just by being shaken.

          Your last sentence is really weird. Not sure how killing children comes to the fore. Additionally
          • The seperator is (on the cells I saw) about 10 micrometers thick. Denting the side of the cell can cause the anode or cathode to press through the seperator.

            A dent on the bottom can cause a tab (makes the connection from the Anode or Cathode to the can or header) to press into the bottom of the winding and very easily short the cell. The bottom of the winding had the seperator protrude from 0.5mm to 1.5mm past the anode and cathode. Wouldn't take much to press through that.

            "I'm saying putting the cell in
      • They don't turn into bombs merely by being shaken. If they did, you'd have exploding cell phones everywhere.

        That would be a good thing. Would get some of these morons to hang up and watch the fucking road when they're driving.

    • The question is what is the right thing to do? Ban the batteries or make better efforts in consumer education?

      Perhaps we can use the same methods to educate the consumer about phishing, viruses, and clicking on those cute little pop-up windows that tell us we have just won a free weekend at Katie Couric's Thigh-high Boot Camp too.
    • I suspect the laptop had a hard drop sometime in the not to distant past, got picked up, put on charge and kaboom.

      Somebody must make something that can be used like a fuse in excessive G-force situations. Of course, then Dell will catch crap for making batteries that stop working if you drop then. It's a no-win situation.

      Me, I don't mind that my airbag stops working after an accident.
  • by khb (266593) on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:46PM (#15722504)
    That batteries can explode is no secret. Managing the charging correctly is critical ... and a battery which is on the road to exploding has lots of "markers" (fast heat rise, wrong charging profile, etc.).

    It seems to me that low margins are the root cause ... for the battery vendor to have QA practices that allow marginal batteries, and for Dell (since they are the ones being fingered, not because I know anything about their practices) to skip additional safety logic beyond whatever minimal standards the battery vendor has specified.
  • Now you know what happens when you win game# 11982 in FreeCell
  • by Poromenos1 (830658) on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:46PM (#15722508) Homepage
    This reminds me of an old joke. A redneck wanted to perform a vasectomy and went to the doctor, but the doctor told him to light up a cherry bomb, hold it and count to ten. The redneck didn't understand how this would help, but trusted the doctor, lit up the cherry bomb and started counting. When he got to five, he put the cherry bomb between his legs and resumed counting in the other hand.

    This is like that, without all the counting.
  • "Oh oh...must have been a Sanyo (battery)"
    • Are they that bad? I've had Sanyo cell phones (In the US and Japan) and while the batteries used in US models have a couple of problems (I'm pretty sure its battery isn't not supposed to deform just by sitting in the charger for more than a couple of hours) the Japanese ones have never been a problem for me- even though I have dropped the battery while it was sitting in the charger, dented it when I accidentally dropped it on the corner of a short brick wall while riding my bicycle, and had it get kicked ar
      • Ya, back when I was working in the Dell safety lab (which researched what equipment broke and why), we found most of the faulty batteries to be of the Sanyo brand. When they fail, they don't explode...they just get really really fucking hot (and smoke a lot). However, there have been instances of exploding batteries. Of these, all of them were refurbished 3rd party, or flat-out pirated battery packs being sold as an original Dell part. The cells are basically unbranded. Most likely made in Asia.

        By the way,
  • And now.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by stox (131684) on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:50PM (#15722525) Homepage
    it is time for the penguin on top of your Dell to explode!
  • by citking (551907) <jay@nOsPAM.citking.net> on Friday July 14, 2006 @07:01PM (#15722582) Homepage
    ...but I do applaud their willingness to at least show a hint of taking responsiblity for these problems. If there is a hint of them refusing to help people affected by this condition I haven't seen it yet, not out of ignorance but for not Googling it.

    Today I got a letter in the mail from my old insurance agency who is being sued in a class-action lawsuit regarding discrimination based on credit reports against the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Of course, the class action settlement included the phrase "xxx is admitting no wrongdoing in this case..." Maybe there wasn't any wrongdoing; I don't know. But this damned phrase has become so commonplace it was the first sentence I looked for when opening the letter with the details of the settlement.

    For once I'd like to see someone step up and take responsibility. The problem is these people read the same headlines I do every day in which some dumbass can sue for whatever reason they deem applies to them and win millions in a settlement.

    We can't have companies exposing themselves to such litigation (excepting that there is no real negligence there) and getting sued into obliion. But just once I want to see a company take the high road and say "Yeah, we fucked up. Sorry. What can we do to make it better?"

    Dell gets a smiley face in my daily repoirt card for this.
    • Your post, that is... in a nutshell - if you say sorry, you admit wrondoing, and you open yourself up to litigation.

      This blog has a bit of a story about that possibly no longer being the case in british columbia, as well as an organisation whose goal is to do away with the nonsense of sorry == admitting guilt altogether:
      http://www.boosman.com/blog/2006/04/apology_legisl ation.html [boosman.com]
    • That looks suspiciously like a Dell 5100 that I used to own.. I agree that its time to see a company that straight out takes responsibility for some obvious screw up. My old Dell didn't blow up but it was close, anyone owning anything similar would know how the heatsink had a fan that sucked air in from the bottom right of the unit and had NOTORIOUS problems with dust. A new machine was alright, any unsuspecting user would find the heatsink clogging with dust in a few months and the machine would boot up w
    • Well, in the past Dell hasn't always been so cool. Dell's laptop Latitude D600 had the harddisk located under the laptop its left palm area. It got hot, VERY hot. Dell never acknowledged this problem although lots of people suffered. See here [josesandoval.com] or just search Google. [google.com]
      • I'm at the third HDD on mine. The first two lasted less than 6 months each.

        Now, when I place my D600 on the desk, I slightly raise its front side (with a thin eraser) so that air can pass under. This 3rd HDD is running strong after more than one year (keeping fingers crossed...)

        Serban
  • Gamers! (Score:5, Funny)

    by dpbsmith (263124) on Friday July 14, 2006 @07:06PM (#15722608) Homepage
    Looking for explosive performance?

    You may find Dell's new laptop too hot to handle!

    It puts you in the middle of the action, with sound effects so real you'll swear you can feel them.

    Blazing action so intense it's practically assault and battery!
  • Plugged in? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by shabushabu (961717) on Friday July 14, 2006 @07:09PM (#15722623)
    I searched TFA but couldnt find the answer to what I believe is a critical question. Was the laptop plugged into an AC outlet when it exploded? If so, even a short could cause an explosion.

    On the other hand, if the battery exploded entirely by itself, a major recall is due...

  • ...and it looks pretty damn close to the one that exploded.

    Anyone have any idea what the exact model is?

  • by zogger (617870)
    Is this a problem with all lithium ion batteries, or just bad batches with even worse quality control? Is the design itself just prone to failure? I really don't know, just lithium ions are also being touted as the batteries to go to in plug-in hybrids, so this might set back that tech if the design itself is suspect.
    • by phorm (591458)
      All Lithium-ion batteries can make a real nasty mess when they go, but as with many batteries, the method of charging, storage, and charge+heat monitoring can cause the battery to become unstable more easily. Putting the battery near other hot components, with an improper charge monitor (overcharging), or in an area than generally leads to overheat can all greatly increase the chance of the battery going boom (not sure how that applies in this case)
  • Autopsy... (Score:3, Funny)

    by odie_q (130040) on Friday July 14, 2006 @09:54PM (#15723139)
    So another Dell laptop is disecting the exploded one? Or did the editor not reflect over the meaning of 'auto' when phrasing the header?

    I'm guessing the first one.
  • Well, if you get to the root of the problem all the technica @#%#!@$^@#!BOOOOOM@^#$$
  • Dude! You blew up a dell!
  • This laptop autopsy will self destruct in five seconds...
  • I bet this is a new feature of WGA.
  • Apple has a battery problem and the trolls and flamers roll out of the wood-works in armies to bash Apple and the Mac. Dell has almost the exact same problem with its laptops and we barely hear a peep out of them. What kind of double standard is that!
  • What if this laptop was on a commercial ailiner, would they be able to put the fire out, being on 10 feet from thousands of gallons of fuel.

    What if the laptop were in the baggage compartment? Would the exinguishersput out the fire in time.

    How many lithiumn batteries on on planes?

    Almost any lithium batter can start on fire if overloaded, or most batteries for that matter--even VRLA/SLA, but Lithium batteries in particular, becasue the lithium burns at a low tempature. Li-polymer batteries are supposed to be
  • Makes me wary of the dell laptop I'm using for my car pc. :|

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