Lithium Ion Battery Safety

Lithium-ion and Lithium polymer batteries are used widely across the MIT campus. These batteries are found in consumer electronics and power tools along with many research devices requiring portable electrical power. They are often chosen by researchers for advantages that include light weight, higher energy density, low memory effect and longer life span.

Unfortunately there is a downside, the electrolyte in Li-ion batteries is highly flammable. News reports involving devices powered by lithium ion batteries catching fire are on the rise, and also MIT has experienced a number of fires and emergencies related to Li-ion batteries. At MIT these incidents were related to batteries left on chargers for extended times, unattended charging, incompatible chargers, cheap knock-off batteries and shorts from improperly wired or isolated connections.

To correctly and safely use the batteries and to deal with emergencies involving Li-ion batteries we created a guidance document for MIT Li-ion battery users.




To provide you a fast way to help ensure everything is safe and in order we created a “checklist” to use during use, storage and disposal, and “dos and don’ts” for handling batteries.







If a battery experiences a hard crash or is otherwise subjected to extreme forces it is safest to pull the battery from the device and remove from service. It might be internally damaged and might ignite or explode if used.

If the battery has bulged, remove it from service.

If the battery is abnormally hot to the touch, remove any electrical connections if possible and put it on a nonconductive container or surface (e.g. metal desk, concrete) away from combustible items and stay clear until the battery cools down.

If the battery is on fire, use a water or ABC extinguisher. When there are no more visible flames, use water to cool down the battery to avoid reignition.

Contact EHS office for disposal of damaged batteries.