Panasonic this week announced a voluntary recall of batteries due to fire and burn hazards. The battery packs being recalled were used in one of its rugged tablets. In total, the company is recalling 280 thousand battery packs, after over a dozen of them encountered critical failures.

Panasonic has discovered that some of the hot-swappable battery packs used in some of its rugged Toughpad FZ-G1 tablets (Mk1, Mk2 and Mk3-series) can short circuit after a prolonged use in extreme temperatures. The company said it had received 16 reports of combusted battery packs between March 2017 and April 2017, including 12 from customers in North America, one from a client in Japan and one owner from Australia. Panasonic plans to provide a free replacement battery to owners of affected tablets.

Panasonic recommends owners of the Toughpad FZ-G1 systems (Mk1/2/3 versions only) to first identify whether they have a potentially affected tablet SKU (find the list here) by checking the backside of their tablets. If the SKU is affected, owners are asked to remove the battery and see whether this is indeed one of the models affected (FZ-VZSU84U, FZ-VZSU89U or FZ-VZSU96U) by removing the accumulator and checking its reverse side.

Owners of systems featuring the battery packs are advised to download a firmware utility from Panasonic’s website that reduces charging from 4.2 to 4.0 volts and lowers the peak operating settings of the accumulator. After the new firmware is applied, customers are asked to contact Panasonic using a special email address or by phone, which will then arrange them a new battery (no need to return the old one).

As makers of portable electronics are trying to make their products thinner and lighter while increasing capacity of their batteries to prolong their autonomous life, the number of problems with batteries has increased in the recent years. Since exploding, overheating or combusting batteries can damage property and/or cause injuries, manufacturers of notebooks, tablets and smartphones take them very seriously and recall hundreds of thousands of battery packs every year.

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Sources: Panasonic, The Japan Times.

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  • Chaitanya - Saturday, May 20, 2017 - link

    we need better battery tech soon, Li-Ion is quite scary even under best of conditions.
  • FunBunny2 - Sunday, May 21, 2017 - link

    needing it, and God being willing and able to add an element with energy density greater than Li to the periodic table, are vewwy, vewwy different things.
  • Stochastic - Sunday, May 21, 2017 - link

    Well, I know there's some research going on that aims to make lithium-ion batteries fire/combustion-proof. Whether this tech can make it to the mass market anytime soon, however, is a big if.
  • WPX00 - Saturday, May 20, 2017 - link

    Panasonic's list of affected devices seems to be exactly the list of affected devices. As in, if you count the number of serial numbers there, you'll probably get the total sales of the thing.
  • HomeworldFound - Saturday, May 20, 2017 - link

    People are worried enough about terrorist attacks using laptops. Panasonic should be making sure their batteries are safe BEFORE they sell them.
  • serendip - Sunday, May 21, 2017 - link

    Hard-to-extinguish fires are scary enough on the ground but they can be catastrophic in the air. That said, lithium ion chemistry is inherently unstable with a fail-deadly mechanism. We can't switch to safer chemistries fast enough.
  • cekim - Sunday, May 21, 2017 - link

    We drive around in 6000lb death boxes with tanks full of hexanes all the time... The answer isn't always (almost never is if there is energy in play) the presence or absence of volatile compounds.
  • fanofanand - Wednesday, May 24, 2017 - link

    Speak for yourself, my vehicle is a svelte 2,863 lbs. :)
  • StrangerGuy - Sunday, May 21, 2017 - link

    Ah yes, the societal leeches who do nothing but expect others to solve their problems in the name of the greater good. Definitely not enough of you on this planet.
  • philehidiot - Sunday, May 21, 2017 - link

    Well that seems kind of harsh. What are you meant to do about exploding batteries if you're not working in that particular segment of that particular industry? It's like saying "you expect a doctor to go and solve your health problems because you're a leech". Er, no, it's because different people contribute to society in different ways. Yes, some don't contribute at all and are leeches but your attitude is quite sickening, really.

    As for the problem, yes safer chemistry would be nice but you can never get way from the fact that we are talking about storing large amounts of energy in ever denser situations. Failures will almost certainly happen and that energy has to go somewhere.

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