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Vendors working on battery safety

A NEW STANDARD for making safer lithium-ion batteries will be published by June next year in an effort to avoid a repeat of the overheating problems that have plagued Sony’s lithium-ion batteries this year.

Industry body the Association Connecting Electronics Industries — known as IPC — said it had set a date of June 15, 2007, for the standard to be finalised and has created a subcommittee made up of leading notebook and battery manufacturers to draw it up.

“We had a very productive, collaborative meeting with all the members of the committee dedicated to rapid development and deployment of the standard,” said Anthony Corkell, quality and standard executive at Lenovo and chairman of the committee. “We have established a publication date of June 15, 2007 for the standard. It is an aggressive date but I am confident that the subcommittee and the industry working together can meet the deadline.”

The standard will cover “process requirements, quality control and assurance” for form factors of rechargeable lithiumion battery cells, including prismatic, cylindrical and pouch.

The IPC Lithium Ion Battery Subcommittee was established in September following the recall of around six million of Sony’s battery packs by Dell and Apple because of incidents where the packs had overheated and caused the vendors’ notebooks to catch fire.

Other notebook makers such as Lenovo, Toshiba and Sony itself soon followed suit and the current number of packs needing to be replaced now stands at close to ten million.

The Lithium Ion Battery Subcommittee is part of the IPC OEM Critical Components Council. This council is engaged in the standardisation of a number of components used in the computer and telecommunications industry including air movement and power conversion devices.

In the latest incident involving one of Sony’s faulty battery packs, Fujitsu confirmed last month that one of its notebooks running on a Sony-made battery caused minor burns to the hands of its user when it overheated and sparked.

Fujitsu, which is recalling over 300,000 packs, said this was the first time any incident like this had happened.

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