Lithium-ion batteries

In any case of emergency contact 000 immediately. For more information on what to do in case of fire or explosion contact your state or territory fire department.

  • Lithium-ion batteries have caused fires and explosions leading to property damage, serious injuries and even death in Australia and across the globe.
  • Consumers should be aware of the risks associated with lithium-ion batteries.
  • There are steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of harm from incidents involving lithium-ion batteries.

About lithium-ion batteries

If a lithium-ion battery is improperly manufactured, handled, stored or disposed of, they can set fire or explode. They have caused fires and explosions in Australia and across the globe that have led to property damage, serious injuries and death.

A lithium-ion battery fire is very difficult to put out with water and other types of chemicals may be required to extinguish it.

It is important to be aware of the risks associated with lithium-ion batteries and the steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of harm.

What is a lithium-ion battery?

A lithium-ion battery is a type of rechargeable battery. It is made up of cells in which lithium ions move from the negative electrode to the positive electrode during discharge and back when charging.

Lithium-ion batteries are the most common battery used in rechargeable devices. This is due to their:

  • small size
  • high energy density
  • better power efficiency than other battery types.

Products containing lithium-ion batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are common in products found in Australian homes. Examples of products that may contain lithium-ion batteries include:

  • e-bikes and e-scooters
  • power tools
  • camping and gardening equipment
  • electronic devices such as mobile phones, laptops and smart wearables.

Risks of lithium-ion batteries

All batteries can be hazardous and can pose a safety risk. However, lithium-ion batteries are considered more volatile than traditional batteries due to their chemical makeup.

There are certain factors that can increase the risk of a lithium-ion battery setting fire or exploding.

Improper manufacturing

The risk of a lithium-ion battery setting fire or exploding increases if the battery isn’t made properly or damaged. For example:

  • if the chemical makeup of the battery is contaminated
  • if there are flaws in the physical components of the battery.

Improper handling and storage

A lithium-ion battery is more likely to set on fire or explode if you:

  • overcharge the battery
  • expose the battery to elevated temperatures
  • expose the battery to moisture
  • store batteries close to each other.

Improper disposal

The risk also increases if a lithium-ion battery isn’t disposed of properly. For example, in a way that allows it to be punctured by heavy machinery, including at garbage processing plants

Safe use of lithium-ion batteries

In any case of emergency contact 000 immediately. For more information on what to do in case of fire or explosion contact your state or territory fire department.

It is important to always follow the manufacturer instructions and guidelines.

Other steps you can take to increase the safety of lithium-ion batteries, and the products they’re in, include:

  • buying lithium-ion batteries from reputable suppliers
  • charging and storing lithium-ion batteries properly
  • disposing of lithium-ion batteries appropriately.

These steps can minimise the risk associated with lithium-ion batteries and prolong the life of the products they’re in.

Keeping safe around Lithium-ion batteries

Do…

Don’t…

When purchasing a lithium-ion product

Purchase products containing lithium-ion batteries from a reputable supplier

Use a product containing lithium-ion batteries if it appears damaged

When handling and storing the lithium-ion product

Store lithium-ion batteries within the recommended temperature range recommended by the manufacturer

Use lithium-ion batteries that are swollen, punctured, very hot to touch, leaking or omitting smoke or odour

Charge lithium-ion batteries on a non-flammable surface such as concrete, ceramic, and steel, away from flammable material

Expose batteries to excessive heat, or moisture, or charge near flammable materials like mattresses, wood, paper and plastic.

Allow the lithium-ion battery to cool after use before charging

Leave lithium-ion batteries in vehicles or warm places for extended periods

Turn chargers off once the lithium-ion battery is fully charged

Drop, throw or puncture the battery

When disposing of the lithium-ion product

Follow local recycling options to safely dispose of the lithium-ion battery

Dispose of lithium-ion batteries in household garbage or recycling bins