Saturday, July 07, 2007

More exploding batteries

Note to self: Beware those cheap replacement batteries on eBay...

SHANGHAI, July 6 — China made new public displays on Friday of its efforts to crack down on defective products, sentencing a former top drug safety official to death and disclosing an investigation into cellphone batteries after one reportedly exploded, killing a man when it pierced his heart.

Until about 2001, nearly all lithium-ion batteries for notebook computers, video camcorders and cellphones, were produced in Japan, according to industry analysts. But in the last few years, dozens of independent Chinese lithium ion battery makers have begun production — often making counterfeit batteries. These third-party producers often sell lithium batteries for one-third or one-fourth the cost of Japanese producers, analysts say. But attention to manufacturing processes, materials and testing can be substandard, increasing safety risks.

“Lithium is a hard-to-tame metal and even a little moisture seeping into the battery during the manufacturing process can be a fire hazard later,” said Richard Doherty, research director of the Envisioneering Group, a consulting firm.

In Guangdong Province, investigators are looking into how the substandard batteries made their way to the market and whether they could have entered the export market, appearing to be identical to Motorola and Nokia goods.



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