LITHIUM BATTERY EXPLOSION!!

Modernflame

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The mail man delivered a pair of new AW 2200 mAh 18650's and a pair of AW 18500s today. I put the two 18650's on a new Nitecore i4 Charger. Since this was the first use of both the charger and the battery, I don't know which was at fault. The 18650's had been on the charger for about 40 minutes when a dramatic-Fourth-of-July fireworks display erupted from the charger. Fireball! Thankfully, I got the wife out of the house within seconds and she was not affected by the fumes. I'm pretty sure I'm ok, too, but I did hang around long enough to douse the area with a fire extinguisher. We called the fire department and got the all clear to re-enter.

Thanks be to God, everyone is healthy and we still have a home, but I'm still one frustrated flashlight addict. Anyone have any insight as to why the cell detonated? AW cells are supposed to be first rate and I've been using Nitecore smart chargers for a long time. As I said, the battery was only on board for about 40 minutes. In fact, I touched and visually inspected the batteries at about 25 minutes into the charging process. There was no heat at all. No sign of anything abnormal. The thermal runaway occurred between the 25 and 40 minute mark. The batteries were at about 3.8 volts. Thanks in advance for the input.
 

TinderBox (UK)

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Are you certain they were not fake AW 18650 cells, provide some photo`s of the same cells that did not vent, so some CPF member might be confirm if they are fake or not.

If they are real AW cells, AW will be interested in why they vented as the stand by their products, and i would contact AW.

Also the charger could be faulty or even fake.

John.
 

night.hoodie

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Very disturbing to hear of this, OP, very troubling account. So relieved no one was injured, and I hope the damage to your home is not permanent or expensive to repair.

If you are able, please let use know from where and how you purchased your cells and charger. What shipper?

Apologies in advance if my further queries sound at all accusatory; the intention is to help eliminate cause beyond bad cells/malfunctioning charger, or possibly damage from rough shipping. If not too invasive to ask, do you know how old your home is? Is it equiped with a modern breaker safety box? If you are so inclined, posting images of the damage, the cells, the charger, will speak volumes, and help those experienced here at CPF help you forensically, and suggest possibly existing options for reimbursement for cost, damages, pain and suffering, etc.

Thank you, OP, for sharing your misfortune, as there is never enough reminder of the terrible things that can go wrong with Li-ion cells, even if they were entirely unpredictable and/or unpreventable.
 
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Zak

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I'm glad you and your wife are OK. That's scary.

Where did your batteries and charger come from? Counterfeits of both AW cells and Nitecore chargers have been spotted in the wild before.
 

archimedes

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Thank you for moving this, to open a thread in this subforum....

What battery chemistry were these ? ICR, IMR ? Protected, unprotected ?

What was the voltage of the cells before charging started ?

What was the charging current used ?

Did it seem that both batteries were involved, or just one of them (if you could tell) ?

Situations like these are key reminders of the importance of vigilant monitoring while recharging these energetic cells.

Glad to hear that quick thinking and decisive action by OP was able to prevent this from a potentially much worse outcome.
 
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SilverFox

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Hello Modernflame,

Prophetic choice of username... :)

Glad to hear your response and glad to hear that everyone is still healthy. It also sounds like there was minimal property damage.

Did the cell actually come apart?

If the cell was the cause, shipping damage could have contributed. However, I would expect shipping damage to reveal itself quicker.

If the charger was the cause you may have missed a charger heating up and only touched the cells to see if they were hot. I do that all the time.

Keep us informed of what you find.

Hindsight allows us to comment after the fact so take this for what it is worth...

I make it a practice to closely attend to the initial few charges of both cells and chargers.

Tom
 

Modernflame

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Unfortunately, I did not take photos. Only one cell vented (and that quite dramatically). The other was in tact, although the wrapper sustained damage from the fire. This is my first experience with a thermal run away, but I've always been the cautious sort. I ordered the batteries from RTD electronics and I inspected them prior to charging. No bulging, discoloration. The wrappers were complete. The initial voltage was 3.74 in one cell and 3.76 in the other. I obtained the NiteCore charger from Amazon. After the fire, I discarded both AW cells along with the charger. The charred remains of the guilty cell appeared almost inside out, splayed open like a hot dog left in the microwave too long. The electrical wiring in the walls is from 2002. I don't think the charger was fake, but the cells are a question mark. I've never used that site before.
 

Modernflame

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Hello Modernflame,

Prophetic choice of username... :)

Glad to hear your response and glad to hear that everyone is still healthy. It also sounds like there was minimal property damage.

Did the cell actually come apart?

If the cell was the cause, shipping damage could have contributed. However, I would expect shipping damage to reveal itself quicker.

If the charger was the cause you may have missed a charger heating up and only touched the cells to see if they were hot. I do that all the time.

Keep us informed of what you find.

Hindsight allows us to comment after the fact so take this for what it is worth...

I make it a practice to closely attend to the initial few charges of both cells and chargers.

Tom

I'll be more fastidious in the future, but at 25 minutes I also touched the charger. It was just slightly warm, but not anything approaching hot. It just seemed so normal.
 

Modernflame

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Thank you for moving this, to open a thread in this subforum....

What battery chemistry were these ? ICR, IMR ? Protected, unprotected ?

What was the voltage of the cells before charging started ?

What was the charging current used ?

Did it seem that both batteries were involved, or just one of them (if you could tell) ?

Situations like these are key reminders of the importance of vigilant monitoring while recharging these energetic cells.

Glad to hear that quick thinking and decisive action by OP was able to prevent this from a potentially much worse outcome.

Unprotected IMR. Actually, I believe the composition includes nickel. The designation on the wrapper was either IMNR or INMR.
 

night.hoodie

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I ordered the batteries from RTD electronics and I inspected them prior to charging. No bulging, discoloration. The wrappers were complete. The initial voltage was 3.74 in one cell and 3.76 in the other.

Worst. News. Evar. RTD has been touted as a trustworthy source of quality cells. All my AW cells are from RTD. Nothing is certain in this life.

I fear it may have been a bit expeditious to dispose of the evidence, as determining precisely why what occurred may be more difficult (though I have faith enough in CPF that the cause will eventually be entirely sussed out, it will be difficult to prove beyond doubt), and there is nothing to show AW for feedback, or even judge and jury, had the event been more damaging and caused injury, health bills, loss of property and work, etc., and nothing to show RTD, though I would guess if informing the dealer of the issue, that at the very least they would have replaced the cells, and still may if you contact them and inform them.

All I can add is that I have worked for one of the top three US shipping companies, and zero mind was paid towards preventing damage to shipped packages; all reliance is on the packing methods to prevent damage. IIRC, RTD uses USPS, and clever studies have shown that USPS is more gentle than any other major domestic shipper.

Unprotected IMR. Actually, I believe the composition includes nickel. The designation on the wrapper was either IMNR or INMR.

I'm not aware that it is possible to get protected IMR cells. I have never seen one.

I want to believe the event had nothing to do with the cells, but it is wishful thinking, and hope it was a charger issue. Amazon isn't really the seller, I would guess. I recommend you check your emails and receipts, and try to identify the actual specific Amazon seller. If it isn't inconvenient, it is important information.
 
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Gauss163

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I think it is highly unlikely that shipping damage would be the source of such a problem for unprotected cells (unless it was so extreme that it was obvious, which was not the case here). Much more likely is an internal short due to contamination in manufacturing, or overcharging due to a charger malfunction (esp. if the cells were inferior quality).
 
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Hoarsehorace

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I work for an engineering firm that investigates, among other things, failures of lithium ion batteries. If there is any possibility at all that there will be an insurance claim or lawsuit because of this event, please do your best to preserve all of the evidence. Charger, cells, contents (even if ejected) receipts, etc. It's much easier to come to a better conclusion when everything is present.
 

Modernflame

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In hindsight, I regret not snapping a photo, but at the time I was concerned with isolating and disposing of toxic chemicals. As far at the Charger, the seller was Edison Bright. The Nitecore packaging seemed legit.

NITECORE New i4 2016 Intellicharger smart battery Charger for Li-ion / IMR / Ni-MH/ Ni-Cd 26650 22650 18650 18490 18350 16340 RCR123 14500 AA AAA AAAA D with EdisonBright BBX3 battery carry case
 

Modernflame

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I replaced the charger with an Efest LUC LCD Universal Charger, which I picked up from a local vape shop after work this evening. Before I open it, I'm hoping it can pass muster with you guys. Is this a good brand? I would not have hesitated before, but I may be a bit gun shy for a while.
 

NoNotAgain

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If it were me, I'd be digging the cells and charger from the trash.

You might be lucky enough to get a large enough piece of the label for picture ID as well as what bay in the charger the fire started.

Contact Edison Bright, send them pics, and see if they will work with you. I've purchased from them a few years back and been pleased.

Nitecore will stand behind the charger if you send it back to Edison.

Can't speak for Efest about there chargers, but Xtra VP4 or VC4 has been very well reviewed and have led display panels to monitor charging unlike the i4 which shots 3 or 4 status lights.
 
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Modernflame

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If it were me, I'd be digging the cells and charger from the trash.

You might be lucky enough to get a large enough piece of the label for picture ID as well as what bay in the charger the fire started.

Contact Edison Bright, send them pics, and see if they will work with you. I've purchased from them a few years back and been pleased.

Nitecore will stand behind the charger if you send it back to Edison.

Can't speak for Efest about there chargers, but Xtra VP4 or VC4 has been very well reviewed and have led display panels to monitor charging unlike the i4 which shots 3 or 4 status lights.

You're quite right, but the battery and the charger are gone. I suspect that the fault ultimately lay with the battery and not the charger, although I can't prove that empirically. As you stated, the Nitecore i4 does not display the charging current, which would have been very helpful information. Perhaps the second bay of the charger (where the problem occurred) was charging at an unacceptably high rate. At this point, I don't think I have much in the way of proof to offer RTD, but I will still contact them regarding the incident. At the very least, they can have a fresh look at their stock and take measures to keep this from happening to someone else.
 

Modernflame

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Edisonbright has been accused of selling counterfeit Nitecore chargers.

This is horrifying. I just reached out to RTD and informed them of the incident.

Can someone please tell me where to get reliable stuff? At this point, I only trust Oveready and Malkoff devices. Who else carries genuine labels?
 
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