Watt’s in my hand?

In 2019,

Khaleej times reported a disruption mid flight due to a “Power bank” Incident.

A power bank exploded on a Royal Brunei Airlines plane flying from Hong Kong to Bandar Seri Begawan, causing panic among passengers.

The explosion caused a small fire after which the plane cabin was filled with smoke. The aircraft landed safely at its destination and no one was reported to be injured in the mid-air emergency.

So what happened?

Lithium-based batteries (Present inside the power bank) can be quite dangerous in certain circumstances, and it is always advised that you purchase high quality power banks and use the recommended chargers and cables;

Using a cheap bank or incorrect attachments could easily result in the battery overheating and exploding like in this situation.

Why does this happen?

Exposure to high temperatures, poor battery quality and manufacturing defects such as wrong circuit design, poor welding, or improper insulation increases the risks of an explosion. 

There is also a risk of explosion with improper disposal. High-quality power banks are less likely to explode because they are built with better materials and extra care. However, it can still happen. 

This is because of the lack of care and precautions by users and manufacturing flaws. The internal circuits can break if dropped and when hit towards the ground with force.

If that happens, it can explode or heat into a fire as soon as one uses it again. Although a power bank seems solid, the circuits inside are delicate, thus creating a misalignment and battery damage when mishandled.

And finally! What is Permitted according to IATA?

“Batteries- spare/loose including lithium metal or lithium ion cells in portable electronic devices must be carried in cabin baggage only.

Lithium batteries have a propensity to catch fire. The lithium metal content must not exceed 2g and for lithium ion batteries, the Watt-hour rating must not exceed 100 Wh.

Articles that have the primary purpose as a power source( Eg.Power bank ) are considered as spare batteries. These batteries must be individually protected to prevent internal short circuits. 

Each person is limited to a maximum of 2 spare lithium batteries.” Some airlines permit you to take power banks up to 160Wh in your hand luggage, though anything over 100Wh must be checked with the airline.

Therefore if carried in cabin baggage, they can be dealt with more easily as there are fire extinguishers in the cabin than it would be if it were checked – in.

So next time you pick a power bank, know what’s in your hand.

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