This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.
Batteries are rarely a worry except when the devices they supply power to go
But in June the battery in a Dell laptop computer caught fire during a
conference at a hotel in Osaka, Japan. Pictures of the burning computer spread
on the Internet.
In the last few weeks, other laptop owners learned that they had good reason
to be concerned. Dell and later Apple Computer recalled millions of
lithium-ion batteries that could
overheat and create a risk of fire.
Dell asked the owners of more than four million notebook computer batteries
to return them for replacement. More than one million of these batteries were
sold outside of the United States.
Apple recalled almost two million batteries used with some of its notebook
computers. 70,000 of them were sold in other countries.
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recalls.
It described them as the two largest recalls in its history involving the
consumer electronics industry.
Agency officials said Dell had received six reports of batteries overheating.
These resulted in property damage but no reports of injuries. The agency said
Apple had received nine reports of overheated batteries. These included two
reports of minor burns and reports of minor property damage.
In Japan, officials have ordered the two companies to investigate reports of
fires in at least two Dell laptops and one Apple laptop.
Sony of Japan made the millions of recalled batteries. Sony officials say a
production problem left very small pieces of metal that could cause a
short-circuit and make a battery overheat.
Experts from different companies plan to meet in California this month to
discuss the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries.
As laptop computers have gotten more powerful, they require more powerful
batteries. Yet batteries are still not powerful enough to satisfy many users.
Some people see microcell technology as a solution. Microcells use energy
sources like hydrogen and methanol. Many companies are working to find ways to
make them safe and useful for computers. Experts say it could be ten years
before computers with microcells are widely available.
And that's the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Sarah Randle.
Transcripts and audio files of our reports are at voaspecialenglish.com. I'm
lithium-ion : 铀离子