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« Weird Referral Du Jour | Main | Fascism Descends On America »

Must Have Been Running Vista Beta

Behold, an exploding Dell laptop. Makes me a little nervous to take mine on a plane, now.

Posted by Rand Simberg at June 22, 2006 08:08 PM
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I'm Imagining the Customer Service Call
Excerpt: Via Transterrestrial Musings, we have the exploding Dell laptop. The first thing I could think of was the customer service call... CUSTOMER, after an 18 minute hold: Yes, hello? I'd like to see if my laptop is under warranty, or maybe has a recall ... ...
Weblog: Caerdroia
Tracked: June 22, 2006 09:34 PM

It's a badly soldered lithium cell, and it merely caught fire. It didn't explode. The 'several explosions for more than five minutes' were just the adjacent cells popping their casings as they were heated.

It could happen to anything be it a laptop, phone, electric razor, ipod, etc.

Posted by Chris Mann at June 22, 2006 10:26 PM

You have to read the manufacturers instructions carefully on those things. They do carry a lot of energy in each cell. They have to be managed by the device using them.

Most laptops have shutdown routines, though, to deal with the heat. Mine shutdown once. I got it de-fluffed later. Buggy shutdown code?

Posted by Alfred Differ at June 22, 2006 10:56 PM

I wonder how a Dell Laptop reacts with Diet Coke and Mentos?

Posted by Alan K. Henderson at June 22, 2006 10:59 PM

Chris Mann hit it on the head. I remember when I was in electronics school in the Navy we had similar occurences.

We all had Texas Instruments calculators with rechargeable batteries. Some of the squids carried single keys, paperclips or other smal metal stuff in their shirt pockets. The metal objects would work their way into the port where the charger plugged in, and short out the battery connector pins. The batteries would overheat and pop or catch fire, or both.

I guess the Navy had more than one sailor get burned, so we all had to carry our calculators in those geeky belt loop pouches. Some of the school commands even made guys get black pouches so it would match the black uniform pants.

Personally I am sure if we had been able to choose blue or brown pouches, we would have lost the Cold War!!

Posted by Steve at June 23, 2006 08:05 AM

Yes one of the nasty side effects of lithium ion batteries. Sudden discharges cause the cell to overheat which causes the casing of the battery to bulge and possibly vent superheated gases. Fortunately, Lithium Ion batteries are built with a number of safety features one being that if the casing bulges beyond a certain limit then power is automatically cut to the remaining cells.

Posted by Josh Reiter at June 23, 2006 05:57 PM

I had a NiCad explode in one of my ham radio handheld VHF radios. The explosion wasn't violent, but there was a loud pop and the case bulged out something awesome. Have no idea why it happened.

Posted by Bernard W Joseph at June 24, 2006 05:03 PM

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