CPSC Calls For Revised Safety Standards After Samsung Fires

CPSC Calls For Revised Safety Standards After Samsung Fires

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said Tuesday that safety standards for lithium-ion batteries need to be modernized following a massive recall of Samsung Galaxy Note 7’s last year.

The CPSC, which negotiated a recall of 1.9 million of the phones and is conducting its own investigation, said Tuesday in a press release that more safeguards need to be put in place during the design and manufacturing stages of lithium-ion batteries.

In September, Samsung suspended sales of the phone and announced an informal recall after it was found that a manufacturing defect in the phones’ batteries had caused some of them to generate excessive heat, resulting in fires and explosions. The CPSC reached an agreement with Samsung to recall about 1 million Note 7s on September 15th two weeks later. After replacement batteries had similar incidents, the recall was expanded.

"At a minimum, industry needs to learn from this experience and improve consumer safety by putting more safeguards in place during the design and manufacturing stages to ensure that technologies run by lithium-ion batteries deliver their benefits without the serious safety risks," CPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye said in the release.

The current standards in place were first developed in 2006 and haven’t been revised since 2011. The commission said they are working with Samsung and other in the industry to “take a fresh look” at the voluntary standard for lithium-ion batteries in smartphones.

Consumers should never have to worry that a battery-powered device might put them, their family or their property at risk,” Kaye said. “This is why we need to modernize and improve the safety standards for lithium-ion batteries in consumer electronics and also stay ahead of new power sources that will inevitably come along and replace these.”

Samsung on Monday released the results of its own internal investigation. It found that flaws in battery manufacturing and design had led to short circuits causing the overheating incidents and fires. The company said it’s focused on learning from its mistakes as it prepares to launch the next model in its Galaxy S line.

Lithium-ion batteries have become extremely popular among manufacturers of electronic devices. The advantage of using Li-ion batteries is that they increase the thermal stability, have higher current density, and a longer shelf life as compared with other batteries available in the market. Li-ion is used in high power applications such as HEVs, EVs, and consumer electronic devices.

It will be interesting to see if this latest investigation has any impact on the development of the global lithium-ion battery market, which is currently forecast to value $140 billion by 2026. The CPSC action could also have broad implications for the worldwide mobile phone industry.

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