HP Widens Recall for Fire-prone Batteries

Laptop batteries posing a fire risk continue to plague Hewlett Packard. The company has widened its call for owners to return batteries for replacement in more laptop models brought in the last three years. A US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued a recall notification thought to involve some 101,000 computers.

Computers affected include a range of HP, Compaq and ProBook models among others, purchased between early 2013 and late 2016Oc.  HP is asking owners of those with black lithium-ion batteries to check the cell’s bar codes and contact the company for a free replacement.  The Palo Alto, California company, says owners should only use AC power with their laptops until they receive a replacement. Luckily, there has been no wrongful deaths to date.

The recall involves HP models with lithium-ion batteries made in China and containing Panasonic cells. The models affected cost between $300 and $1,700. Some batteries were sold separately for between $50 and $90.

The renewed recall comes after HP received a report of a overheating battery melting and causing $1,000 in damage, according to the CPSC statement.  It is understood the batteries affected are at risk of catching fire, causing burn damage to the computer and potentially its user.

The latest recall comes hot on the heels of a similar HP announcement affecting 41,000 power cells in June 2016. The CPSC statement said the new recall affected batteries not included in the previous one.

During the past few years, observers estimate that HP has recalled hundreds of thousands of lithium-ion batteries due to fire hazard reports. The company has previously issued recalls for batteries in laptops sold in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008.

However, HP is not the only company to suffer from Lithium-ion battery problems. Some Samsung and Apple models with similar power cells have also been prone to cause fire damage, in some cases even bursting into flames. Lithium-ion batteries in other gadgets such as phones and toys have also proved to be a fiery problem. According to a Pickering Mortgage Broker, “We are seeing families become more cognizant of the products in their homes.”

As a whole, the electronics industry is trying to develop better, and safer, batteries. Companies are exploring new battery technology and ways to prevent Lithium-ion related fires.

Early this year, researchers from Stanford University built lithium-ion batteries that would immediately self-extinguish if they overheated. The group claim their method can stop cells from burning up within 0.4 seconds of the start of a battery fire.

The Standford researchers incorporated the widely-used flame retardant triphenyl phosphate into a lithium battery. The group added the chemical to the fibres of the component that keeps apart the battery’s negative and positive electrodes.

If the battery overheats past 150 degrees Celsius, the plastic melts and releases the chemical compound. Unlike previous attempts to build a similar mini fire extinguisher systems, the Stanford group their method does not significantly affect computer performance.

HP Laptop owners concerned about their lithium batteries can contact the company at www.HP.com/go/batteryprogram2016