Why are electronics like Galaxy Notes exploding?

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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WATCH: Battery Explosions Halt Note 7 Sales

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Samsung said it has collected more than 60 percent of all the Galaxy Note 7 phones sold in the U.S. and South Korea.

A worldwide recall of the phones was issued earlier this month because the batteries can start fires while charging.

The company plans to release a new version of the phone at the end of this week.

But phones aren't the only gadgets that have been malfunctioning. A Delta flight was diverted last weekend when a tablet burst into flames.

And last Christmas' must-have, the hoverboard, was banned by airlines after many of them caught fire. There have also been numerous stories of e-cigarettes exploding and burning smokers.

All of the items are powered by lithium batteries.

Wentworth Institute of Technology assistant engineering professor Aaron Carpenter showed WFXT what happens inside a phone before it bursts into flames.

To do that, he forced the short circuit of an AA battery. Just like the batteries found in a smartphone, the battery has a positive side and a negative side.

When they're able to connect, a fire ensues.

The battery inside many electronic devices is much stronger than a lithium ion battery, with a thin piece of plastic that helps protect the battery from fire.

When the piece of plastic breaks down, the chemicals on either side react, sparking flames.

Carpenter told WFXT that there are two reasons why it happens. In the case of the Samsung recall, it's a manufacturing error.

In the case of hoverboards, it's likely that the toy has been banged around, cracking the battery's separator.

Carpenter said scientists are always working to make batteries more powerful.

"Everyone wants to be able to have their phone last longer and charge faster," he said.

Ramping up that ability means that scientists are constantly tinkering with strong chemicals, powering dozens of items that we use every day.

"As things are getting more compressed and concentrated, we're more likely to have these kinds of issues," Carpenter said.

Carpenter said the chance of catastrophic failure is very small -- less than one in 1 million.

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