ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, firsthand account)

Lunarmodule

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I'm still reeling with shock as I type this, bandages in place. They say there's a first time for everything, and my first lithium battery explosion happened moments ago to a flashlight in my hand while operating. It was a new (to me) Pelican M6 with incan lamp assembly, just arrived as a purchase from BST. It came with batteries already installed, CR123 primaries, am almost certain were Battery Station brand. The light was operating continuously for about 20 minutes, and I picked it up to move to another part of my darkroom. I noticed the body of the light was warm, not hot to the touch. As I picked it up it I heard a hissing sound, looked down and saw a gray haze spewing out around the rubber tailcap button, this was follwed by a shockingly loud *BANG* like a large firework. Startled, I dropped the light to the ground. I wasnt wearing any socks or shoes, and seconds later there was a second explosion, the second battery letting go, that blew out the front lens and sent shards of glass into the heel of my foot, which bled profusely. I saw the second explosion produce a small jet of flame six inches out of the tailcap, shredding the rubber button. I kicked the light away by reflex, but the drama was over. The incan bulb is still intact, but the tailcap is shredded. Lens is history. My foot was bleeding quite badly, but stopped when pressure was applied. No charring of the exterior. I'm still shellshocked by the event. What is it about the Pelican M6? I love this light, have four of them. The rest are LED, never had any problems. I know of 2 other M6es, the most notorious is in the sticky thread in this section., that have met similar fates. Not at all trying to badmouth Pelican or Batt Station or scare anyone, but this caught me totally off guard.

Just thought I'd add this to the list of traumas. And a word to those fearing the vent with flame phenomenon: it is NO picnic. I NEVER expected this to happen with a STOCK lamp assembly and primaries! "Vent with flame": true to the words! There was a tremendous amount of pressure exiting the light, it was MUCH more velocity to the gas than you would see with a tea kettle on full boil for instance. I was really scared at the violent nature of the demise of the batteries. I still dont understand what went wrong. The light came shipped with those batteries and I presume the seller had included a matched pair of new ones, as he is a skilled modder and knows whats what.

Ironically I use a lot of rechargeable LiIons, sometimes unprotected cells with no bad incidents except a few dead cells from over-discharge. I always feared the vent with flame thing when I knew I was driving cells really hard but it never happened to me. Until now, with primary cells. I NEVER expected this to happen. Worst part is there was almost no warning, the hissing sound, the gray haze venting happened only seconds before the firecracker explosion. Thankfully no other injuries except the glass in my foot, which is not insignificant. This thing was LOUD! REALLY REALLY LOUD!!! The hissing/venting continued for about 10 seconds before the first explosion, I totally froze and stared at it, not able to process what was happening.

I'm still afraid to pick up the light. Its across the room from where I'm typing. I'm ninety nine percent sure its all spent, no further pyrotechnics to look forward to. I hope. There is a terrible smell along with it. Quite distinct, unlike anything I've known.

*EDIT*
Just summoned some courage and dismantled the light. The batteries are stuck in the tube, but it came apart easily enough. Snapped some pics with the point and shoot, I'll post them here....

Got the batteries out, they indeed are Battery Station CR123. BTW, Jon: I hold you at no fault whatsoever, please dont feel bad about this.

Blood all over the place. All from the glass shooting into my foot. Tremendous energy behind that explosion. I am totally without words to explain how grateful I am injuries are limited to what they are.

I want to give a nod of thanks to Newbie and SilverFox and all those who contribute to the lithium ion battery safety threads. Maybe some of you can help me figure out what the cause of this may have been. Time for the budding forensics folks out there to contribute their hypotheses.


Some pics:

the batteries are totally WET, covered in charred paste


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batteries still inside the tube, head end, head removed (trembling)

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bottom of stock screw in incan lamp assembly, part that mates with top battery (+) terminal

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iamerror

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Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

Wow, I don't know what to say... good thing you're okay.
 

roguesw

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Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

Lunarmodule,
hope you are ok and recovering, i must say that is the most dramatic and most dangerous example of a 123 exploding
but what i dont understand is, this is a light that was not being overdriven, it was running within specification, it was not taxing the batteries,
and yet the batteries exploded.
is it purely the batteries or a combination of the specific bulb in the PM6 and the batteries
again, hope you are ok and have a speedy recovery
 

dragoman

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Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

prob a good idea to replace batteries in a light you get from B/S/T, even if the seller says they are new....

At least, after reading that I sure will now....

Glad you're okay.

dragoman
 

Lit Up

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Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

Ouch! Glad you're ok.

On the bright side: At least it wasn't a headlamp. *Yikes*
 

Lips

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Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

.

Hope your alright there Steve, that could have easily been an eyeball...


I read this right after confidently loading 6 X 17500's in a new flashlight, not so confident anymore :faint:


.
 

Planterz

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Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

I think I'll be staying away from batterstation batteries.:wow:

Bummer about your foot (and your light), but at least it wasn't your eyes or your vas deferens.
 

Lunarmodule

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Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

roguesw said:
Lunarmodule,
hope you are ok and recovering, i must say that is the most dramatic and most dangerous example of a 123 exploding
but what i dont understand is, this is a light that was not being overdriven, it was running within specification, it was not taxing the batteries,
and yet the batteries exploded.
is it purely the batteries or a combination of the specific bulb in the PM6 and the batteries
again, hope you are ok and have a speedy recovery

Exactly my sentiments, dragoman, about the mystery of the stock setup. BTW, sincere thanks to all of you that express concern for my *OUCH*, first aid got it under control. I'll spare the gore of the foot pictures, suffice to say glass shards at velocity do wicked damage when they encounter soft targets. I cant fathom how the bulb stayed perfectly intact while the lens shattered as violently as it did. Theres some funky physics at work, never my strong suit. I think it must have been the lamp assembly was shielded from any direct pressure or flame (blast effects) because of the seal maintained by the module threading into the head end of the tube. When the explosion happened, the flame jet and blast noise (LOUD!!!! there was perceivable overpressure), rather the shock wave of the blast noise is what must have taken out the front glass.

The mystery is layers deep due to the stock lamp, no overdrive or other hijinks, nothing out of the ordinary at all. I've had a few close calls, the scariest of all was using canned compressed air to blow dust off a hotwire incan lamp's reflector right after turning the light off. This was a total bonehead move, and I accept responsibility for causing that accident. It was late at night, not thinking too clearly, just.... gotta clean that reflector. I unscrewed the bezel, removed it, aimed the little red straw at the reflector and *BLAMMO* the WA1185 blew apart into a zillion grains of glass and spread all over the room! Much worse, I wasnt wearing my glasses and was looking right at the darn thing (arms length). I got glass all over my face, but thank Heaven none anywhere near the eyes! The thermal stress from the supercold air meeting the hot glass bulb was too much. But in this situation with the PM6 there was no shenanignans, thats what makes it so terrifying!

heres a pic of the head of the light removed and the incan lamp assembly that threads into the top of the battery tube:


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Glock40

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Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

That is pretty wild. Glad you are ok.
 

Long John

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Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

Hello Steve:)

I'm so sorry to hear what happens.:awman:

I'll hope you will be soon better.

Very best regards

_____
Tom
 

bwaites

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Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

Obviously, the safety on these batteries didn't trip.

As for the lamp being driven hard, it is being driven hard, that's why the PM6 is a CPF favorite, the light is white!

PM inbound Lunarmodule.

Bill
 

tebore

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Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

In America the land of lawsuits. I understand how we wouldn't sue because it's part of the hobby, but how come I don't hear of lawsuits from everyday folk handling CR123? Maybe we need some to make the safety features actually work on these batteries.
 

bwaites

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Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

The last time this happened, it was with Surefire cells, if I recall correctly.

Bill
 

lexina

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Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

oops..the first thing I did after I read this thread was to take out the ROP-Low I had been happily over-driving on my Mag1C with 2R123s and replace it with the much less demanding Magnum Star 5-cell! Thanks for sharing this, lunarmodule and I am glad you are ok.
 

chevrofreak

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Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

I wouldnt be so quick to blame the batteries for this. I've now seen atleast 3 blown Pelican M6's.

I've owned 3 M6's over the years, and I'm curious as to whether or not the ultra stiff spring on the lamp module of the M6 is damaging the batteries in some way, causing a catastrophic failure. Perhaps it's the crappy switch somehow causing it. Perhaps it's a combination of those things.

I was terribly disappointed by my M6's for build quality and design and vowed never to buy another. Now I have one more reason to add to my list.
 

hank

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Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

> seen atleast 3 blown Pelican M6's

Can you be more explicit about what you mean? Do you mean "blown up" as described above? Can you describe these three more specifically?

I can imagine a spring damaging a battery; the battery losing charge; then you have two mismatched batteries leading to an explosion.

This seems like it's going to be a widespread problem over time.
 

greenlight

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Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

I read with interest this post. Good thing you didn't burn your house down!
 

batterystation

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Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

I am very sorry this happened.

I am afraid that even though our battery had a $6000 upgrade almost two years ago and is UL rated, the shear numbers are working against us. We are going through almost 100,000 of them in a busy month now and it has become a numbers game more than a quality game. I can assure everyone that we have gone way overboard regarding safety. This is another reason we do not sell unprotected cells. Trouble waiting to happen.

I have spoken to people at several factories including domestic big names and they all have incidents similar to this. This is being caused by mixing batteries that are not exactly matched. I am not saying this is anyones fault or putting blame on any customer. You should not have to worry about things like this. This is a factory issue. You do of course not want to mix a discharged battery with a good one. Most people know this.

I would like to replace the light, batteries, and anything else necessary to make this right. I hope people understand this is a random freak thing that we have only limited ability to prevent. We are going to begin a program of testing every CR123A battery that goes in CPF orders and maybe every order. It is that one out of 10K or one out of 100K cells that may cause a potential problem. Please be advised that this is possible with any brand of battery. Please be careful.

I sincerely apologize for this and will take even further steps to hopefully prevent it from ever happening again. Our goal is to offer a quality product. We have never been a company to take shortcuts. There are cheaper batteries everywhere but we won't carry them.

Please give me a call with any questions or comments or ideas. We really want you to have the best.
 

SilverFox

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Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

Hello Lunarmodule,

The most likely cause is that one battery was drained more than the other one. As things warm up, the fuller charged cell tries to reverse charge the under charged cell and things heat up fast. Hydrogen gas is vented and when ignited, blows up. Once one cell is burning, it doesn't take much to ignite the other cell.

I should point out that the fumes are not good for you, nor is the slimy residue. Take care and make sure you wash your hands after playing around with the burned up batteries and light. Gloves may be an even better consideration. If you plan on storing the burned up parts, I would suggest that you move them outside.

I have had a discussion with Kevin at BatteryStation. He will be posting his thoughts shortly.

I know that the ZTS tester has not given us exact information, but it is beginning to look like a reasonable investment at this time...

Tom
 

petrev

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Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

Hi

Sounds like a close shave - Glad to hear no permanent damage (PTSD apart) - but the memory of this will live with you for a long time ! ! !

I always thought the really dangerous batts were the un-protected R-LiIons but this is about as bad as it gets.

Stay Well (and careful) and keep us posted

Cheers Pete
 
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