Laptop battery fires spreading
It's been a bad year for laptop batteries. Apple, of course, has its "you can fry an egg on it" MacBooks, but the problem is clearly not brand-specific. In a widely syndicated report, the Toronto Globe and Mail recently tallied up the recall numbers, finding that "laptop companies have recalled more than 150,000 batteries since Jan. 1, 2005. Hewlett-Packard recalled 15,700 of them in April alone. Dell recalled 22,000 batteries in December and Apple recalled about 120,000 batteries in 2005."
Boing Boing resurfaced the flaming-laptops story this weekend, running some gory photos of "self-immolating" Dells. Even more worrisome, the problems don't seem to be limited to laptops. One singed Boing Boing reader tells of his near miss with a flammable PDA: "I can tell you that a PDA with a lithium-ion battery burst into flames without any warning, apparent cause or reason while I was wearing it, lighting my shirt on fire and singing some chest hairs before I quickly ripped my shirt off and tossed the whole thing into the kitchen sink."
Ouch. No wonder consumers' tempers are getting heated up. Lithium-ions are also suspected in the case of the UPS airplane that caught fire in February. Here's the irony of the situation: Just when laptops and PDAs had reached the pinnacle of svelteness, they suddenly require a bulky new peripheral: a fire extinguisher.
Photo by sizemoresr
Hot laptops can pose a number of hazards for users (see http://ergo.human.cornell.edu/hotlaptops.html). For this reason I worked with an industrial designer to create a simple and inexpensive answer to this problem with a product called LapTraxx (www.laptraxx.com). There is no need for anyone to experience a hot laptop or for laptop fires to occur if the laptop is properly cooled.
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