Most people look at a hammer and think about building something. Most people look at a battery and think about powering something.
Some of us look at a hammer and a battery and think, what if I hit the battery with the hammer?
Don’t get us wrong, we like building things too. In fact we’re kind of world experts on productization, getting products off the R&D bench and into high volume manufacturing. But we have a special place in our slightly black hearts for trying to break things (see We design, we test, we break things for more on this). Not that we’re malicious, just that we’d rather break products in our lab than see them break in the field.
As for lithium ion batteries, safety is a pretty big concern. So we’ve always wanted to see what would happen if we smashed a battery. And while it’s unlikely that anyone will really use a hammer to smash a battery, objects or people could fall on a unit (one of our customer’s product is used by athletes for example).
So we took a low cost, Chinese built lithium polymer battery, laid it on the concrete out back, geared up with safety glasses and fire extinguisher, and smashed away. First test was to set the 50 lb kettle ball on the battery. It passed. We then dropped the kettle ball from 12 inches. The battery was smashed, although not violently. So we took a fresh, charged battery and, finally, after all these years, hit it with the sledge hammer.
Smashed to oblivion, and perhaps we released a little toxic fumes into the air, but no fire, no explosion.
And yes we got paid to do this.
PS When you see a butane torch, do you think of welding, or crème brûlée, or of flammability testing?