I say he made a good effort to hide his mistake
I say he made a good effort to hide his mistake
Just for the heck of it, I decided to sacrifice one of my SF 123a cells that was nearing end of charge to look at the ridge. This one expires in 2015 so it is 2 years newer than his. Perhaps SF changed the design in those 2 years. Perhaps not. We have to take into account the effects of the explosion, so really, who knows for sure.
One thing to clarify in this thread. The batteries did not explode. The light did. If the batteries had not been inside the light they would just have fizzled with some smoke and flames. No bang. No projectiles. Just burn marks.
The thing that makes an explosion in the case of deflagration is confinement. If you set a loose mound of gunpowder and light it, it goes whoosh. If you put that same gunpowder inside a cardboard tube it goes bang.
As someone rightly observed, putting a high energy chemical system inside a sealed aluminum tube is like creating a pipe bomb. Surefire absolutely hold some responsibility for designing and selling such a system.
It is to be hoped that modern lights have some kind of safety vent that will allow hot gases to escape before they build up enough pressure to make the light explode. Such events may be rare but they can happen, whether by user error or otherwise. I would not like to own a product that has that possibility.
I know what you are saying, and that the party line is that batteries "vent with/without flame," but an empty flashlight tube cannot explode.
Technically, a capped metal battery canister enclosure by itself is adequate to accurately satisfy the definition of an 'explosion'. I regard the good old Pitstop demonstration video as also satisfying the criteria, and not because it is contained within the laptop.
When the OP in that thread describes the main explosion as a sound louder than a shotgun going off indoors, followed by the photos of the damage, and (reportedly) all occurring with SF components, as far as I am concerned, that is enough to call this a Surefire Explosion.
There are degrees of explosion of course, but I assert that bare CR123A cells will not produce a deafening bang, break legs of chairs, punch holes in doors, and fly dozens of feet as a high speed projectile. It takes the combined effect of batteries and flashlight tube to do that.
To the extent that it was a Surefire light and Surefire batteries, then sure, it was a Surefire explosion.
I don't think we are disagreeing here, but it was the combination of flashlight and batteries that was required to create the events described. Not one or the other by itself.
What I'm saying is the light should have had a safety release mechanism to allow the gases to escape safely rather than being confined inside the tube.
Last edited by Mr Happy; 11-08-2009 at 01:29 AM.
I'm not sure how loud of a sound a single 123A primary cell would be if reverse charged intentionally sitting outside, only because there is some degree of confinement from the casing. Edit: Here is a new post with video of a lithium battery fire at a Canadian recycling plant, and explosions were heard throughout the valley. That is really what I was getting at.
I'm more focussed on whether these 3 cells are all genuine SF cells.
I unwrapped a couple of spent batteries. And the cell above looks a lot like the Chinese made Energizer cells rather than my Duracells with the bigger gap.
On a related note the Duracell looks polished while the Energizer still has sticky residue and printing over it and looks stonewashed.
Last edited by R@ndom; 11-08-2009 at 05:41 AM.
I'm beginning to sound like a broken record in that thread. Where's that dead horse?
Use the LockOut TailCap.
If your flashlight doesn't have one then get one, or replace the flashlight with one that can be disabled.
There are too many unknowns over whether the batteries were mixed, old and new, new and used, different brands etc etc
We can't tell for sure but I bet most normal people don't have any 'standard' way of dealing with batteries and they have 'em kicking about all over the place. Who knowns what condition they're in.
If only there was a way to tell whether a battery was unused or used.
It's not about determining how used it is: Only whether it has been used at all [because the 'rule' is only put new unused batteries in flashlights]
Perhaps an adhesive tab on one of the terminals that the user peels off. It would leave no residue and wouldn't be sticky enough to be stuck back down.
I'm sure 3M could make something like that.
Fresh surefire 07-2017 batteries [all 100%] goes in, MN15 runs for 30 minutes....then head cell goes 60-80%, second cell 80%, tail cell 100%. Run it until it dims, and test all the cells. head cell 40%, second cell zip, tail cell 80% via ZTS.
It's just bizarre to me, I'm using 0509A energizers now...and so far its 80-80-100 and through a KL6 head, the MN15s back on the M6
We know that CR123A batteries are strong and robust and tolerant.
Being responsible with batteries means not disadvantaging them right from the start.
If the behaviour you noticed using the ZTS was usually and normal use was a problem we'd all be in a world of hurt. Since we're not I think that responsible normal battery practices coupled with responsible flashlight practices are sufficient to minimise battery-related incidents to the extent they are a non-issue.
Mix batteries and act carelessly not disabling your flashlight and you dramatically increase the risks. Even so the chances of being bitten by your sloppy and irresponsibly behaviour is low. Which isn't the constructive reinforcement of positive behaviour that will make the world a safer place.
In following Lux's sharp detective work I rotated that pic and used a sharpening filter on it to notice this interesting bit. This is speculation and could of course just be coincidence but it does look a bit like a Battery Station logo left imprinted on the burnt battery:
Battery station next to a Surefire and you can see the letter 'B' in it appears identical and in roughly the same location from the end of the battery as the burnt one. I will say however it appears on the wrong end based on the lip (but BS did change manufacturers a while back so the labels may have been put on differently). BTW this is not a slam on Battery Station batteries as I know Kevin changed manufacurers for his cells a while back and has done a lot to keep them safe. It's just that after looking close at the picture above it looked like it might be a Battery Station battery but no way to know for sure from the pic.
Last edited by matrixshaman; 11-08-2009 at 02:40 PM.
There is no important work, there are only a series of moments to demonstrate your mastery and impeccability. Quote from Almine
I seem to recall one event that was reported in a two cell light where it was reported to have gone dim, turned off and then the event occurred many minutes later? Point or question being can the event be triggered and then even breaking the circuit not be enough to stop it from "running away"?
I could be wrong here or have a bad recall.
One consideration I have come to on my own and in bench testing new designs as well as trouble shooting lights is the policy that if a light does not appear to function properly, it is not a good host for battery(s) whether it appears to be turned off or not. With a clickey switch, you can't be certain anyway, if the light isn't lighting up.
With multi cell lights would it be a good habit to immediately empty a light that is not performing to par on its current battery set?
Here's another conjecture in regards to a twisty type ground path. As you twist the light off, I assume it is conceivable that you have a certain range in which you have yet to completely break the circuit but there is sufficient contact resistance to keep the light from appearing on; especially in the case of an incandescent? You also have the back lash in the threads which allow for some Z axis play. I know I and others have experienced with a sealed light cases where changes in relative temperature and pressure have activated a light that was off. Twisting until the light just turns off may not insure that the light will remain off. Further twisting is really a good idea.
If the event reported here required a complete circuit to occur then it might be a good idea to figure out how that complete circuit came about. Al's comment about a lock out tail cap is significant I think and adding the potential of internal VS external pressures' influence on the state of the ground circuit may have been a key contribution.
Obviously given the number of multi cell lights out there and the atypical nature of this event, as users of these lights, we would love to have a handle on what the nature of this event was. My gut tells me that if this light was host to SF batteries that it was a case of depleted cells with disparity in individual charge levels and likely a closed circuit.
I just found this article on Surefire's website and it says:
"SureFire has been manufacturing lithium battery-powered flashlights for nearly 25 years; in that time not a single incident has been reported of a SureFire 123A lithium battery causing any such mishap in a SureFire brand flashlight.”
Could this be the first SF battery incident reported?
SureFire E2DL | LX2 | E1B
I suspect that SureFire would want to examine the flashlight and what is left of the batteries before reaching a conclusion.
They called it the "Safety-Strip"
Or perhaps it was "Safe-T-Strip"
Even as a boy of maybe 10 years of age, i thought it was a pretty good idea.
Ray-O-Vac eventually dropped it, however.
There is some minor battery instructions in the most recent SF E2D I got, but not what I would consider adequate warnings.
I do not think you can expect the average consumer to know the dangers on primary Lithium cells unless they are clearly warned and don't read/follow those enclosed instructions. You certainly cannot say they are being irresponsible. Well I take that back. You can say it, but it is not accurate.
In fact, if any fire, damage, bodily injury, or loss of life occurred from older SF lights & batteries, I guarantee that a lawyer would eat SF alive. Regarding product safety litigation, the company would be held irresponsible and liable if they did not give adequate warnings to the consumer for dangers they know about, and which in my lights SF did not.
In addition, several boxes I bought this year with expiration dates of 5/2018 also say absolutely nothing about safe use of the cells. There are warnings on observing proper storing, but nothing about safe use, not mixing old with new. I guarantee that guidelines which we know as members of this forum is not common knowledge.
I brought my poor understanding of Alkaline, NiMH, NiCad batteries to Lithium primary and secondary cells when I first joined this forum. I would always just replace the weak battery when tested on one of those cheap hand held battery testers, and had no reason to think it was any different with Lithium batteries.
In this specific (and other) example on AR15 forums, it is not the responsibility of the consumer to later somehow find out that his light should be only used with a lockout tailcap, and follow specific battery use guidelines. Rather, the responsibility rests with Surefire to issue notices to consumers they know bought certain lights, distributors, retailers, and place product safety announcements in public magazines/newspapers to protect the public.
Are you sure?
All the SF12BB boxes have warnings about storage and use. That's the old white packaging as well as the current.
I've had SureFires with specific leaflets in the packaging on batteries.
It's so ubiquitous but I'm sure this leaflet in some form as been supplied in every CR123A powered SureFire package I've got.WARNING Where there's light, there's heat. WARNING
An important word of warning...please read
[a whole load of safety warnings and recommendations]
And I'm sure it's in the manuals...
One of my M6 manuals (Rev. 6 4-1-2000, the first one to hand) states
AndNote: Use only Duracell DL123A batteries in order to achieve the high output expected from the M6 flashlight. Replace batteries as a set of 6.
The SureFire M6 Flashlight is very powerful.... The Flashlight has a Lock out Tail Cap, one revolution of the Tail Cap locks out the switch. Make sure the lamp is OFF before storage to prevent overheating damage to the Flashlight or nearby objects...
I've not got the most recent packaging to hand (LX2, A2L etc). I'm sure I saw similar leaflets and warnings in the manuals of those...WARNING
Lithium batteries can explode or cause burns if disassembled, shorted, recharged or exposed to fire or high temperatures.
Please handle with care.
Carrying a flashlight for instant use in a Speed Holster is one of the best ways of doing so.
The LockOut TailCap design with it's fixed limited travel switch contact assembly is far less likely to be in a position where it could be in intermittent partial contact as in the scenario that Don describes above. For example it is very difficult (impossible?) for a LOTC switch contact assembly to be out of alignment unless it has become jammed against a thread. In which case the switch is obviously jammed and the user would realise something is wrong.
The free-floating unrestrained nature of the switch contact assembly in a non-LOTC means there is far more potential for off-nominal switch contact scenarios and for this to occur unnoticed by the user.
I don't believe I'm clutching at straws here [am I?]
I lock/unlock my flashlights all the time, but something still bothers me with this incident, particular on the batteries. Surefire has been using the newer, red boxes for orders of 12 or so...but something keeps telling me the older boxes are still being used, for bulk orders of say 100 or more. I cannot, however, find credible evidence for this assumption.
The SF72BB 'bricks' (six boxes of 12 (SF12BB), in a box) I've used for the last couple of years have been the current style.
Also, you stated earlier in this thread, "The flashlight would not have acted this way unless it was activated, even only slightly, especially in a confined space like a pouch or clothing where the heat building up could not escape. This can't happen in disabled flashlights, even when the batteries are damp and whole mix of discharge states as the electrical circuit is not complete and the compromised batteries are not being stressed."
Locking a light out will prevent overdischarge and cells going into reversal, but lithium manganese cells (CR type) can vent / explode / etc even if they are not subjected to conditions of overdischarge or overheating. It is rare, but internal shorts can form in partially discharged cells, thermal run away can occur, and a fire or explosion can result.
Locking a light out is a good habit to get into, but it can not prevent these types of occurrences 100% of the time. It will, however, greatly reduce the possibility.
Your explanation for why some batteries are fuller than others is because some where fuller to begin with? How does this explain that the battery at the bezel end has been shown to be the one that discharges the most (I've found this to be so myself with plenty of sets of batteries through the 12PM)
I've not aware of any instance of a battery going bad in a single-cell flashlight where accidental activation can be ruled out beyond all reasonable doubt.
1. Electrons flow from the lithium metal anode, through the filament, and back to the manganese dioxide cathode of the cell. This is what is called a redox reaction (reduction-oxidation).
2. 2 or more cells in series will each have the same number of electrons flow through them. I think we can agree that they are, in this sense, acting like a piece of wire used to complete a circuit.
3. Efficiency of discharge is improved at higher than ambient temperatures, but since the same number of electrons flow through each cell in series, you can't get into an imbalanced situation with regard to depth of discharge unless the cells contained more or less lithium to start with (CR cells are anode-limited, which means that there is an excess of cathode material).
If this is still unclear, I'll check back into this thread later and try to expand upon this explanation.
I think you're going to have to because I'm not understanding your explanation and doesn't seem to fit with what is being experienced.
Are you're saying that a partially used battery in series with a full battery acts to limit the amount of stored energy the full battery can release [and that once the partially used battery is drained it is impossible for the other battery that still has charge in it to provide this to the circuit.
Also, that it doesn't matter which order these batteries are in - they will only ever discharge the amount of energy that the least-full battery has.
The least-full battery in a series of four (in the M4 for example) could be anywhere. Heat has no influence other than to make it easier for the battery closest to the bezel to discharge but it won't discharge any more than the less-full battery. Heat influences the rate of discharge only and not the amount?
With regards to 'reverse charging' - are you saying that the CR123A battery can not discharge any charge gained through 'reverse charging'?
Last edited by Size15's; 11-09-2009 at 01:41 PM.
However, because the cells (in an M4, to take your example) are in series, the same number of electrons flows through each of them, so final depth of discharge is entirely dependent on initial metallic lithium content.
Really, I don't mean to be confrontational or pedantic about this topic. If you'd like to continue this via PM I'd be more than happy to do so, and avoid further cluttering this thread.
Thanks for taking the time to explain - I'm learning new things about batteries.