If you have been around the tech world for a while, you will remember the massive recalls of a few years back over laptop batteries that were bad and could randomly explode and catch fire. There were photos of notebooks spontaneously bursting into flames on the web and it seemed every time we turned around someone was issuing a battery recall. Even Apple got caught in the recall frenzy and ended up having to pay out to one Japanese man who was burned when his MacBook caught fire.
A recently published patent application from Apple has surfaced and it outlines a cool new method that would help Apple avoid any future issues with exploding batteries. The patent app covers a pressure relief battery pouch for portable devices. Part of the issue with battery explosions is that gases build up inside and cause the battery to swell eventually leading to an explosion. The Apple pouch would be designed to relieve pressure.
The gas build up can occur if the battery is overcharged for instance. Lithium-ion cylindrical batteries are often equipped with a valve to allow the release of internal pressure before it causes the battery to explode, but the lithium-polymer batteries used in some gadgets and notebooks lack this feature. Lithium-polymer batteries are inside a flexible pouch that is cheap to make and has little weight. The catch is there is no pressure valve on the pouch. The new pouch design from Apple has weaknesses that will create a hole to relieve pressure before the battery ruptures. Sounds like a really good idea to me.
[via Patently Apple]