Qioptiq logo Raytheon

DELL RECALL POINTS TO MILITARY LI-ION PROBLEMS?

17 Aug 06. The BBC reported that the Dell recall is said to be the biggest electrical recall ever. An investigation has begun to see if the problem that led Dell to recall millions of its notebook computer batteries could affect other brands.

This week, 4.1 million of the lithium-ion batteries, made by Sony, were recalled because of a fire risk. Now the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is trying to find out if the same batteries in other laptops will suffer the same problem.

Sony has said it cannot name the other companies for legal reasons. However, computer manufacturers Fujitsu and Lenovo Group Ltd have said they use Sony lithium-ion batteries in some of their products, but that their notebook computers were designed not to overheat. Both companies said they were not recalling any batteries. Hewlett-Packard also said they were not affected by the recall as they do not use Sony battery packs in their notebook products.

Sony has said it used the batteries in some of its Vaio notebooks. A spokesperson for Sony said: “Some Vaio notebook series utilized the batteries in question, but at present we have not received any incident reports related to these products.

“Sony’s Vaio adopts its own design for safety technology, and Sony considers there is no danger of emission of smoke or fire from these products.

“The battery charging system that Vaio uses is different from that of Dell.”

She added that the fault was most likely linked to the way Dell integrated the battery into its laptop computers.

Sony lithium-ion batteries were used in Dell laptops shipped between April 2004 and July 2006, including the Latitude, Inspiron, XPS and

According to a Dell spokesperson, it affected about 15% of the batteries the company sold in that period. The recall was issued after six confirmed instances of overheating or fire in Dell hardware; the company is offering affected consumers free replacements.

It was, said the US consumer safety watchdog, the biggest recall of electrical products in its history. The CPSC also said they had identified 339 incidents in which lithium batteries used in laptops and cell phones – not just Dell products – overheated between 2003 and 2005.

There are no reports of problems with the millions of Li-Ion batteries in use by the military. Li-Ion batteries are used in rugged laptops and tactical radios amongst a myriad of products and form the core of the military’s power requirements. A source told BATTLESPACE recently that Li-Ion batteries are liable to catch fire and project a stream of flame if hit by shrapnel or a bullet. Perhaps the military should consider some form of protection for operators in the field.

Back to article list