Activities of the past two weeks, including the inauguration of America’s 45th president, put the squeeze on some newsworthy information that may not have received proper coverage. One of these announcements came from Samsung about the cause of the Galaxy Note 7 battery overheating incidents that caused a few of the smart phones to catch on fire while being used.
The company held a news conference for the media at their headquarters in Seoul, Korea on January 23, 2017 to discuss their findings from a months-long investigation of this problem. For some background information on the Galaxy Note 7’s overheating problem, see these posts:
- Samsung Halts Production of the Galaxy Note 7
- The Continuing Overheating Problem In Lithium-ion Batteries
Samsung’s mobile division president, Koh Dong-jin said that the company tested more than 200,000 Galaxy Note 7 smartphones. Results of these tests yielded defects in two sets of batteries from two different manufacturers. It was these batteries or devices that were prone to catch fire.
Perhaps a simpler explanation of the Note 7 problem is given by ABC News 7 in New York City, “The relatively large battery cells did not fit well into their pouches and there was not enough insulating material inside.” As a result, Samsung discontinued the Note 7 just two months after it was launched on Aug. 2, in one of its worst product fiascos ever. The company recalled 3.06 million Note 7 phones. Of those 96% were returned.
Rechargeable lithium batteries have been found to be more susceptible to overheating than other types of batteries if they are exposed to high temperatures, are damaged or have manufacturing flaws. Samsung’s challenge with Li-ion batteries is really an industry issue for those manufacturers that make or use them in their products. The work and research that Samsung invested in discovering the cause of overheating in the Note 7 will be helpful to all parties involved.
The above discoveries led Samsung to implement a broad range of internal quality and safety processes to further enhance product safety including additional protocols such as the multi-layer safety measures. The company has also adopted an 8-point battery safety check including charge and discharge tests.
Samsung is also forming a Battery Advisory Group of external advisers, academic and research experts to ensure it maintains a clear and objective perspective on battery safety and innovation. Battery Advisory Group members include:
- Clare Grey, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry, University of Cambridge
- Gerbrand Ceder, Ph.D., Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, UC Berkeley
- Yi Cui, Ph.D., Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Stanford University
- Toru Amazutsumi, Ph.D., CEO, Amaz Techno-consultant
Following the above news conference on January 22nd, the company announced that it had achieved solid financial results in Q4 despite the discontinuation of the Note 7 on January 23rd. Samsung accomplished thru robust sales of chips and screens, analysts say. The company also made several key acquisitions and divestures which will enable its future growth.