E-Cigarette Explosions – Not a Rare Occurrence
Richard Meier, IAAI-CFI, CFEI, CFPS
Florida Fire and Explosion Analysis Expert
It seems like every week there is another news story about the explosion of an E-cigarette. In the most recent one, an Idaho man was badly injured and lost several teeth when is E-cigarette exploded in his face while he was using it.
Unfortunately, these are becoming all too common. Several similar incidents have been recorded, along with E-cigarettes and the batteries they use exploding or catching fire while in the pockets of their owners. So what is happening, and why is it happening?
First things first. What is an “E-cigarette”? An E-cigarette, or “electronic cigarette” or “E-cig”, is actually not a cigarette at all. The product was designed as an alternative to traditional combustion based smoking methods used to extract nicotine from tobacco and inhale by the user. It is a vaporizer used to turn a liquid extract (usually tobacco based) into a vapor by heating it with an electrical resistance heater. The vaporizer can be a simple manual device where a button is pushed to energize the heater, or a semi-automatic type where a sensor detects air flow and the heating element is energized.
The rapid and repeating heating of the vaporizer requires a great deal of energy, and this brings us to the heart of the problem. The energy source for these vaporizers, or “e-cigs” are typically lithium-ion batteries. Li-ion have the highest energy to weight ratio of all batteries on the market. They have been indicated in numerous fire and explosion incidents. The instantaneous high current demands of e-cigarettes make the batteries particularly susceptible to failure.
Should you be presented with an exploding e-cigarette or vaporizer case, give us a call and we can help you navigate all of the technical aspects.
Want to learn more about our work with Lithium Ion Batteries? Read this.