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Thread: 123 Primary Lithium cell info/testing/links

  1. #121
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    Default Re: 123 Primary Lithium cell info/testing/links

    Hello Steve,

    If you look at the starting voltage of each cell you will see why the ZTS tester rated one at 100% and the other at 10%.

    Tom
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    Default Re: 123 Primary Lithium cell info/testing/links

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverFox
    Hello Steve,

    If you look at the starting voltage of each cell you will see why the ZTS tester rated one at 100% and the other at 10%.

    Tom
    Yup, actually I did notice that. I still figured it would be worth posing the question. The "weak" cell per ZTS is lower in starting voltage but when given the opportunity to perform, it does perform. Therefore it's not really weak, and the 10% spit out by the ZTS is an anomaly. Call it a tester anomaly or a cell anomaly (most accurately a combination).
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    Default Re: 123 Primary Lithium cell info/testing/links

    Hello Steve,

    It could have something to do with the phases of the moon... More gravitational pull reduces the starting voltage... but does not seem to have an equal effect. OK, anomaly sounds good.

    The ZTS tester seems to have a problem with unused cells that have something strange going on with the chemistry. It does seem to be able to match cells on starting voltage. I have found that the 10% and 20% cells seem to have almost the same capacity as the 100% cells. It's the 40%, and 60% cells that seem to be strange.

    I have noticed that if you take a 10% cell and put it in a light for a few minutes, it will test higher. However, I haven't done anything formal with this.

    NewBie mentioned that the heat from the lamp may contribute to what is going on. Perhaps we could load the lower capacity cell nearest the lamp in an effort to heat it up. That way the weaker cell may be able to keep up with the stronger cell because of the increase in chemical activity (due to the heat) of the electrolyte.

    I will, for now, stick with matched cells and remember to shut the light off when the lamp dims. I think I will also keep an eye on temperature during run time tests.

    Tom
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    Default Re: 123 Primary Lithium cell info/testing/links

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverFox
    ...I will, for now, stick with matched cells and remember to shut the light off when the lamp dims. I think I will also keep an eye on temperature during run time tests...
    Hey Tom:

    Let's think about that for a moment. Starting with the fact that you're matching cells to begin with, what is the concern when the light dims? Are you worried that no cell matching is perfect, and at the point of dimming, there is likely to be one weaker and one stronger cell? I submit that by that point, the stronger cell hasn't got enough energy left to push the weaker one all the way to the point of venting.

    Or am I missing something?
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    Default Re: 123 Primary Lithium cell info/testing/links

    a common element of all reported light failures that I'm aware of, all involved clickies, multiple primary cells and one or more defective cell.

    twisties (LOTC) like Surefire M6 have reported venting, but those have been traced to internal battery carrier failure. so far all twistie lights failing have been traced to possible internal short issues.

    IMHO clickies play a major role in that you cann't easily tell clickie is on or off position. except by viewing light is coming on. if internal failure is occuring to point light is not coming on. a clicky will give no visual indication switch is off.

    you put light away, thinking light is turned off, but current is still flowing. then when all condition are aligned, venting occurs!

    Quote Originally Posted by soffiler
    Hey Tom:

    Let's think about that for a moment. Starting with the fact that you're matching cells to begin with, what is the concern when the light dims? Are you worried that no cell matching is perfect, and at the point of dimming, there is likely to be one weaker and one stronger cell? I submit that by that point, the stronger cell hasn't got enough energy left to push the weaker one all the way to the point of venting.

    Or am I missing something?

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    Default Re: 123 Primary Lithium cell info/testing/links

    cy,

    You and I have come to the same theory. In my situation I believe the tailcap may have been faulty or possessed a slow drain. The cells were likely mismatched (though new and fresh from the same batch; Last night I pulled out another 2x123 stick from the same shipment- this stick was new and never used- and it couldn't light up my Gladius) and then a venting event occurred.

    Once I receive my ZTS tester I'm going to parse through the threads here and learn how best to use it. I wonder if this is the path forward for us, and if it is truly acceptable: test every cell prior to use. Could I test every cell if I were in a combat situation?
    A few favorite lights from: McGizmo, Data, milkyspit, HDS, and Surefire

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    Default Re: 123 Primary Lithium cell info/testing/links

    Hello Steve,

    Good point. If the cells start off matched and are dead, there is probably not enough energy left to reverse charge the weaker cell.

    I still think shutting the light off is a good habit to get into...

    Tom
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    Default Re: 123 Primary Lithium cell info/testing/links

    Hello Cy,

    The SureFire clicky switches that I have (E1E and U2) have a different feel when they are on. The plunger is down further from the rubber cap when it is on.

    Kroll switches are the same way, but the QIII switch has the same feel whether it is off or on.

    Tom
    Behind every Great man there's always a woman rolling her eyes...

    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

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    Default Re: 123 Primary Lithium cell info/testing/links

    Tom, thanks for pointing that out. never noticed all surefire clickie switches feel slightly depressed when on.

    I've always just clicked switch looking if light is on or off.

    another factor that could be important is clickies are easier to accidently turn on. it just take one dead-on push to turn on light. VS twisties or LOTC on for a split second. it'd have to wedge just right to keep light on with twisty. could happen, but not likely.

    a chain of events all got to come together to produce venting. IMHO all venting factors have always been present except for huge numbers of defective CR123 cells from China.

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    Default Re: 123 Primary Lithium cell info/testing/links

    Hello Cy,

    I am inclined to agree with you. These factors have been present since the lights have been manufactured. The only thing that seems to have changed is the cell construction.

    It will be interesting to see how NewBie's testing with ZTS mismatched cells turns out. I think I sent him 5 of each level (except for 10%) to check out.

    Tom
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    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

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    Default Re: 123 Primary Lithium cell info/testing/links

    Jumping the gun a little, NewBie's latest, and fully-instrumented test seems to indicate that the weeker cell's reverse charging appears to be the culprit. It also implies that the "system" has to me under a pretty good load for the "vent with flame" to occur. If this proves out, may I suggest that various brands be compared wrt to internal protection against reverse charging? Are they all potential (when reversed ) "bombs?"

    Larry
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    Default Re: 123 Primary Lithium cell info/testing/links

    Quote Originally Posted by soffiler
    NewBie: for the sake of clarity... these are both brand-new cells? (as opposed to you depleting one purposely down to 10%)

    If they're both brand-new, I'd suggest this was more a ZTS tester anomaly than a real mismatch test. Which also helps explain why the "10%" cell pulled ahead of the "100%" cell, and why there was no venting.

    Yes both are new, just tested on the ZTS tester by Silverfox, and put into the test rig.



    Okay, here is a run that was done identically to the last one:


    .

    I took one of SilverFox's 10% cells, and put it in a glass of water that was at 59C for 10 minutes, and I am doing a run with that right now as I type this, to see how it affects the results.

    .

    Here are the results from a ZTS tested 10% cell that was preheated to 60C, inside a ziplock bag, for 10 minutes, paired up with a ZTS tested 100% cell. Notice how the plots changed...:



    Now compare the venting plot (pay attention, the time scales are different):


    It looks alot more like the venting plot now. I'll be doing a longer preheat next, about 30 minutes, so that the heat can get into the center of the cell a bit better. This heating has a very vague simularity to the heating that occurs in a performance flashlight, especially the PM6. Besides the head section of a PM6 heating up very nicely inside, it also has a very heavy guage spring, which helps to conduct the heat to the first battery.

    I have a few more tests I'd like to try, then I'll get a PM6 rigged up for the test, and we can see how things go there.
    Last edited by NewBie; 08-24-2006 at 01:18 AM. Reason: Add graph results from 2nd run late last night and tonight

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    Default Re: 123 Primary Lithium cell info/testing/links

    NewBie: continued great stuff! And thanks for the clarification.

    The cells tested 10% on ZTS have an odd initial voltage characteristic; it is slightly depressed and recovers to a higher value during use. In my limited experience (using West Mt. Radio battery tester primarily with high-quality USA or Japanese cells... SF, Duracell, Sanyo) they always look like your 100% cells, that is, with a rather high initial voltage that drops over the first few minutes under load. Right now, it's looking to me like the ZTS is fooled by that low initial voltage which is apparently some manufacturing anomaly (??). So far, your venting has occurred exclusively with one purposely depleted cell, a true and known mismatch; highly ZTS-mismatched but otherwise fresh new cells have not vented yet (correct?).

    I would not be surprised if your testing ultimately reveals that a certain level of reverse-charge voltage and current (thus power) for a certain time (thus energy) is necessary to initiate venting.
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    Default Re: 123 Primary Lithium cell info/testing/links

    Here's a link to a story in FT.com concerning the Sony laptop Li-ion battery recall. It says in laymans terms what the problems is. That tidbit COULD apply to the cr123's too.
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/c2eab782-339...0779e2340.html
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    Default Re: 123 Primary Lithium cell info/testing/links

    Okay, here is what happened after 30 minutes of preheat, in a ziplock bag in 60C water.



    The video that goes with that logged data:
    http://www.molalla.net/~leeper/zts104q.wmv

    You will notice it vented at the end of the fuzzball at ~94 minutes. The test started at ~11:30 PM last night, and I ended it at about ~2:00 AM. (yes, been burning the midnight oil on this stuff for quite awhile now).

    This is one of those ventings that happened a while after the bulb winked out.

    As such, it appears the data is showing that the heat is also a big contributor to the whole ball of wax, so far.

    Just a few tests to go, and I dig into a PM6, instrument it up, and find out what is going on in it. Still hoping for my ice point chip parts. I may end up taking another approach on this K-type thermocouple signal conditioning circuit, just so I can start getting the cell temp data.
    Last edited by NewBie; 08-25-2006 at 12:03 AM. Reason: To add associated venting video

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    Default Re: 123 Primary Lithium cell info/testing/links

    Hello NewBie,

    Any idea on what is causing the "fuzzball" voltage swings?

    Tom
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    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

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    Default Re: 123 Primary Lithium cell info/testing/links

    Maybe this bit of info will help. Gleaned from twom news articles on Sone battery recalls (Dell and Apple): "Sony said the problems arise 'on rare occasions' when microscopic metal particles hit other parts of the battery cell and lead to a short circuit." From an earlier report Sony said the metal particles were from "overcrimping" of the batteries during manufacture.

    So, correct me if I'm looking at this in the wrong way because batteries are not my speciality, but the metal flakes from the overcrimping may be the common thread. If, as a battery heats up from the imbalance betwwen the full and partialy discharged cells, this would cause thermal expansion within the battery. The expansion would cause movement of the metal flakes, leading to internal shorting. This in turn would lead to more heating and thermal runaway causing the catastrophic failures. The shorting might also be the source of the voltage swings. Of course, the internal heating could also be playing havic with the chemical reaction, which would also cause the voltage swings

    It's just a theory and it was free, so take it for what it's worth. :-)

    Weldon

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    Default Re: 123 Primary Lithium cell info/testing/links

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverFox
    Hello NewBie,

    Any idea on what is causing the "fuzzball" voltage swings?

    Tom

    If I were to guess, it might be the PTC, but it is just a guess without merit. If it was the PTC, something should have shown up on the other cell, and in the current waveforms. So that isn't that likely.


    .


    On a side note, I repeated the same test that just caused the venting in the last run.




    It didn't vent this time. It looks like it came close though. Take a look at the other venting graphs, you will notice that when there is a vent, it goes over a 1 volt negative. It looks like it just narrowly missed it. It might be due to the fact that it is cold outside, which affects the internal cell temperatures.

    I've got a few more datapoint tests to run, but it will have to wait until tomorrow. You guys all have a great night, it's getting late here again.
    Last edited by NewBie; 08-25-2006 at 01:36 AM. Reason: Add new testing results

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    Default Re: 123 Primary Lithium cell info/testing/links

    some real patterns are coming out...

    yep sleep sounds good zzzzz...

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    Default Re: 123 Primary Lithium cell info/testing/links

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverFox
    Hello NewBie,

    Any idea on what is causing the "fuzzball" voltage swings?

    Tom
    My guess, and it's only a guess, is that the fuzzball has its root cause in chemistry. You're driving current in the wrong direction thru the dead (negative) cell's chemicals... however I am certainly no chemist, and cannot even begin to explain the details.
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    Default Re: 123 Primary Lithium cell info/testing/links

    Quote Originally Posted by soffiler
    My guess, and it's only a guess, is that the fuzzball has its root cause in chemistry. You're driving current in the wrong direction thru the dead (negative) cell's chemicals... however I am certainly no chemist, and cannot even begin to explain the details.
    On that front, it would not surprise me at all, it may be much like the mechanisms found in tantalum capacitors, which also contain MnO2. There you get localized failure locations that start to take off, but they get disconnected in the process and have a self healing property. If you hit them too hard, or warm them up too much (ripple current/ambient temps) and provide enough oomph behind them (low impedance supply source), they will take off in much like an avalanche mode, and they too will physically explode. At the factory, many of the better tantalum capacitor makers test each and every cap, conditioning them, and shaking out the failures, which do occur in every batch. Once the customer has the devices, there is a certain infant mortality rate that decreases with time, and the defective devices are "screened" out. There are many things that you can do, such as de-rating them in your application, which can reduce the likelyhood of a failure. The barrier in a tantalum capacitor is nothing more than a powdered, then sintsered pellet (formed on a tantalum "wire"), which is put in phosphoric acid to form a thin oxide layer, which serves as the dielectric to separate the plates. This dielectric oxide layer is called tantalum pentoxide. The other layer is produced by pyrolysis of manganese nitrate into manganese dioxide. This is done by sticking the pellet into a liquid solution of the nitrate and then it is baked at 250°C to produce the manganese dioxide coating. It is repeated several times build up a thick layer over all internal and external surfaces of the “pellet”. Then the pellet is dipped in graphite and silver, to form the other electrical connection to the assembly. Then it is packaged, and you then have a tantalum capacitor. Abuse it, and it can explode, much like these cells.

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    Default Re: 123 Primary Lithium cell info/testing/links

    Newbie, good analogy with the tantalum capacitors and a great explanation of how those caps are put together.

    Another short news blurb about the Lith-Ion batteries: The "biggest threat is the possible penetration of the thin barrier made of synthetic material — about as thick as a sheet of paper — that separates the two electrodes and prevents the quick release of energy. If a particle — such as a speck of metal — breaches the protective membrane during manufacturing, the particles worm through the opening and collide with the electrode, causing the device to short-circuit."

    Exactly what Newbie was pointing out with his analogy, that if the insulating barrier is penetrated/broken down, bad things can occur.

    Great work Newbie! Thank you for all the time and effort you've put into researching the cause(s) of these battery mishaps.

    Weldon

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    Default Re: 123 Primary Lithium cell info/testing/links

    Here I used a 0% ZTS tested cell with a 100% ZTS tested cell. No heating or anything was done.




    Notice the lack of output of the 0% cell.


    ------








    -----


    Bulb blew here, right when I started, so I had to replace my Streamlight Night Hunter 2/Tactical Light 2 blub I've been using for the tests.





    Last edited by NewBie; 08-27-2006 at 11:34 PM. Reason: add next 40% graph

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    Default Re: 123 Primary Lithium cell info/testing/links

    Newbie - thanks for describing the analogy to the tantalum cap. Your knowledge of chemistry is clearly superior to mine. Formation of conductive "spikes" that can pierce the dielectric is starting to sound familiar - given the recent media event with the Sony/Dell Li-Ion. I believe I've heard of something physically similar (probably chemically quite different) occurring in nickel chemistries that is related to the infamous memory effect too.

    Thanks too for the additional test run data. You're certainly establishing a pattern here. It's always the ZTS-weaker cell that drops below 0V first, and the fuzz pattern repeats - and the non-venting runs seem to have a less-negative cell voltage. Great stuff. Groundbreaking, even. I have to wonder if this sort of testing is even going on at the battery manufacturers themselves.
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    Default Re: 123 Primary Lithium cell info/testing/links

    Thanks again.

    I've only got one run so far tonight, the second one is now in progress. When it ends, I'm hitting the sack. I will try and get the graph posted tomorrow morning first thing, if I have time.

    This is a really interesting graph, you can see both cells doing the fuzz thing:




    Last edited by NewBie; 08-29-2006 at 08:13 AM. Reason: Add graph

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    Default Re: 123 Primary Lithium cell info/testing/links

    Hi Newbie:

    Looking at your most recent test run there (3rd run Titanium 60%-100% 8/28/06) I got to thinking about the relationship between voltage and current in your test circuit. I realize you're using a hotwire. I am also aware of the PTC effect in filaments. So, by picking voltage and current values off your chart, I came up with the following circuit impedances:

    10 min. - 4.4 ohm
    20 min. - 4.3 ohm
    30 min. - 4.1 ohm
    40 min. - 3.8 ohm
    50 min. - 3.4 ohm
    60 min. - 2.6 ohm

    There, we see the filament cooling as the cells deplete, and the impedance of the filament dropping due to the PTC effect.

    Next, the power:

    10 min. - 5.8 watts
    20 min. - 5.5 watts
    30 min. - 4.8 watts
    40 min. - 3.4 watts
    50 min. - 2.5 watts
    60 min. - 1.3 watts

    This got me to thinking: with a regulated LED, what you'd see is closer to a constant power drain from the cells. Meaning, as the voltage drops, the current INCREASES (within the regulator's ability to regulate). Hmmm... wondering out loud...
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    Default Re: 123 Primary Lithium cell info/testing/links

    So what did the pre-heating do?
    What happens when the 100% cell is pre-heated? or both are?
    Why/how do the low scoring new cells seem to outperform the 100% cells?
    Greg

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    Default Re: 123 Primary Lithium cell info/testing/links

    Quote Originally Posted by GregWormald
    So what did the pre-heating do?
    What happens when the 100% cell is pre-heated? or both are?
    Why/how do the low scoring new cells seem to outperform the 100% cells?
    Greg

    Hi Greg.

    The preheating caused some cells to vent towards the end, just like a partial depletion would. This off balances the cells a bit. In an incandescent flashlight, like the PM6, the cell up by the head, gets a bit warmer, typically. Still need to run those tests.

    If you go back a bit, you will see a bunch of venting videos and such, in the thread.

    With "lower quality" cells, which have some variation of ESR, and some chemical stuff going on, it gets more and more difficult to test the cells and predict their performance. These cells that are being used to run the tests here, are among that most difficult to predict.

    We just started running these tests, so you will have to be patient, this is only one series here that we are trying to wrap up.


    Steve,
    Most LED sswitchers have cut out voltages, but I understand. One could also use the cut-out to possibly prevent the venting/explosions happening. I still have tests on that note, to perform yet, on the 27LT.

    Another interesting scenario is a weak cell, plus heating. You can work the idea two ways and end up with issues.

    Here is the third run of the ZTS tested 60% Titanium cell with a 100% cell:

    Last edited by NewBie; 08-30-2006 at 08:02 AM. Reason: add graph

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    Default Re: 123 Primary Lithium cell info/testing/links

    I've got a few more different brand cells that I'm going to do the old test on, so I'll have a bit of a picture of various cells.

    This is one of the weirdest battery runs I have done. It is from a batch of Powerizer CR123A cells I just purchased from BatteryJunction.com:



    I found I had some old data on the spreadsheet, graph fixed.


    ----
    Graph from second run, it looks like these cells have a PTC that is kicking off at a much lower temperature than normal, and when it kicks, it kicks nice and hard.



    Here is the Powerizer 15% manual depletion paired with a 100% cell (so 85% and 100%):
    Last edited by NewBie; 08-31-2006 at 12:53 AM. Reason: add graph

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    Default Re: 123 Primary Lithium cell info/testing/links

    So Newbie, are you figuring that rather large reverse voltage across the weaker cell is actually dropped across the PTC? Makes sense to me. I know your temperature datalogging parts are still in the future, but do you have *any* insight into cell temperature? (based on your videos I know you've usually got a T-couple meter in there somewhere).
    Steve Offiler
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