What is Battery Bloating?

By: Jack Vanden Broek

3 Min Read

3 May, 2021

One of the realities of using lithium-ion batteries in our electronic devices is that we tend to overcharge them. Overcharging refers to the situation when a lithium-ion battery is charged beyond its maximum capacity while the device is still turned on. Lithium-Ion Batteries were designed to be periodically charged and discharged, and so leaving a battery in a prolonged overcharging state decreases its usable lifespan. In a previous article we discussed the effects of overcharging in consumer devices, but what happens when lithium ion batteries are constantly overcharged in a commercial setting? This article will shed light on the phenomenon of Battery Bloating, the dangers it presents in a B2B context, and showcase how LAVA’s Battery Modulation technology can prevent it.

Since most power supplies are relatively simple it is quite easy to accidentally overcharge a mobile device. By simple, we mean to say that there is no way for the power supply to recognize when it has sufficiently charged the connected device. Most devices can be fully charged up within a couple of hours, so allowing a device to charge longer than 4-5 hours will likely result in overcharging. However, with the increase of tablets and smartphones being deployed for commercial applications it is quite common for a mobile device to be left in a charging state 24/7, for months on end.

Little is known about how overcharging effects the chemistry of Lithium Ion Batteries, but at LAVA we know, from experience, that leaving a mobile device in an overcharging state for a prolonged period of time will eventually cause the battery to swell and bloat. This reaction is known as Battery Bloating. Mobile devices used in a commercial setting are arguably more susceptible to battery bloating due to the prolonged period where they are left in a charging state. For example, a retail self-checkout kiosk, or digital display is usually intended to be installed or mounted with little to no maintenance or intervention. When left in an overcharging state for weeks, or months on end the mobile device will gradually start to expand. Over time, the expansion will eventually damage the mobile device itself, and even the enclosure housing the mobile device. In extreme cases this has resulted in tablet screens cracking from expansion pressure (rendering the device useless) and warping the enclosure beyond repair. Significant bloating such as this will usually be observed within 1-1.5 years of sustained 24/7 overcharging unless protective measures are taken.

Fortunately, LAVA has developed a number of products with Battery Modulation technology to preventing battery bloating in these situations.

For select Samsung Mobile devices we can protect against overcharging with the eSynC and eSTS line of adapters. When used in conjunction with our LAVA Tablet Management (LTM) Software, it allows the user to set specific charging thresholds to keep a mobile device from ever being overcharged. Both product lines come in a number of different configurations (i.e. 3 USB Ports, 2 USB Ports with Ethernet,2 USB Ports with Power over Ethernet, etc) and provide access to the peripherals regardless of whether or not that mobile device is in a charging state.

For users who are unable to use our LTM software, but are using mobile devices that support SimulCharge; LAVA has developed specialty units for both the SynC and STS adapter lines (commonly referred to as uSynC and uSTS) that employ CABM (Continuously Active Battery Modulation) technology. CABM monitors the charging thresholds of the mobile device, disables charging when the mobile device is relatively close to 100%, and discharges for 3 hours before restarting the charge cycle. Both product lines come in different configurations and provide access to the peripherals regardless of whether or not the mobile device is in a charging state. While these adapters are currently unavailable as COTS (Commercial off the Shelf) products, please contact us with any inquires.

Companies around the world have begun to recognize that overcharging and battery bloating are a serious detriment to the efficiency and longevity of their mobile devices, in commercial settings. The value of solutions like Battery Modulation technology is that they provide a long term solution to Battery Bloating before it starts, or by preventing future overcharging damage once applied to existing commercial devices.

At LAVA we believe in sharing our knowledge and experience to offer insight on the technological challenges of today, and by leveraging our expertise in fields such as lithium-ion batteries we hope to inspire others to have meaningful discussions and uncover innovative solutions of their own. To learn more about Battery Bloating and Battery Modulation visit LAVA’s website or give us a call at 416-674-5924.