By now you've probably seen the video of a smoking backpack in the middle of a crowded Florida airport. We now know a lithium-ion battery caught fire inside that bag.
This led many of you to ask our VERIFY team: can an alkaline battery do the same thing?
They found a post by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health -- talking all about batteries. It said corrosion, as well as differences in design and charge rates can release excess hydrogen gas, which can explode when mixed with heat or a spark.
The NIOSH said excess hydrogen gas is more likely to be released if batteries are used incorrectly, which includes using different types or brands together, damaged batteries, mixing old ones with new ones, or if they're inserted with the wrong polarity. It may also be produced by rechargeable batteries when they're charging.
If this gas builds up, the NIOSH said, the pressure can cause the battery to rupture. Then when the hydrogen mixes with oxygen, it becomes highly explosive, and if it's mixed with heat or a spark, this can lead to a powerful explosion.
So we can VERIFY -- yes -- an alkaline battery can explode.
The NIOSH has some battery safety tips:
- Read and follow manufacturers’ recommendations for product use
- DO NOT MIX batteries of different brands
- DO NOT MIX old and new batteries
- DO NOT MIX alkaline with non-alkaline batteries
- DO NOT USE damaged batteries
- Ensure that proper polarity is observed when installing batteries
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