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Today, the AAA battery in my remote control exploded. The "pop" sound is pretty loud. I've been using this remote control for years, and I'm more inclined to believe that it is the battery issue rather than the circuit issue, because if it was the circuit problem, the problem could have occurred a few years back.

From my understanding, the common reasons for an electrolyte capacitor to explode is due to high voltage over the voltage rating or connection in wrong polarity. However, I'm not sure about the reason for an AAA battery to explode. So the question is like what is stated in the title, what are the possible reasons for an AAA battery to explode?

Exploded alkaline AAA cell

Edit1: @Russell, the battery connection is shown below, this should be a series connection right?
Battery connection

Besides, the remote control is still functional with new batteries. I took a deep breath while trying this again, the explosion isn't big, but the sound is still a little scary...

Some additional information:

  1. What sort of battery - Alkaline, NiMH, other?
    It's Alkaline - not rechargeable

  2. How many AA batteries in remote?
    Two

  3. IR remote presumably?
    There's an LED, and I have to point it to the air conditioner to use the remote, I think it's IR remote.

  4. Brand of battery?
    Energizer

  5. Age of battery (time in use)?
    It's not newly installed, my guess is a few months of usage before the explosion.

  6. Was it recharged?
    No, it isn't recharged.

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  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ How long was the battery used in the remote before it exploded? Minutes, days, months? \$\endgroup\$ – Matt B. Jan 21 '12 at 13:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ The battery is not new, I did not remember exactly when I changed it, I'm guessing it should be a few months of use before this happened. \$\endgroup\$ – I'm a frog dragon Jan 22 '12 at 6:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you please answer the following questions: How many AA batteries in remote? (1/2/3/?) | Is it an Infra red based controller. | Does the controller now work when nw battery/batteries are used. | Does the remote provide for recharging in some manner? Was it recharged ? \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon Jan 22 '12 at 12:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RussellMcMahon I placed the answers as an edit in my question, thanks for helping. \$\endgroup\$ – I'm a frog dragon Jan 22 '12 at 14:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ I find myself curious as to whether the battery was a genuine Energizer(R) brand product. Reputable battery manufacturers design their batteries so they will vent when internal pressures get too high. That may result in nasty goo escaping and damaging equipment, but should prevent explosion. I would think that if such a thing happens in future, it might not be a bad idea to package up the battery and contact the manufacturer. They might offer some advice on how to tell whether the battery is one of their products, and they may be interested in examining it. \$\endgroup\$ – supercat Jun 7 '12 at 16:14
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From the information provided it sounds either like a faulty battery or a very high current drain from the equipment - or both.


Update 1 : Having seen the most impressive photo, my prior assessment stands. This would be extremely unusual. A large amount of energy seems to have been involved. If there were 3 or more batteries in series (were there?) and one was reversed this may happen as the current would be driven through it backwards.

This strongly suggests a bad battery - possibly a counterfeit one.

enter image description here


Update 2:

We now know there are two batteries.
This is less than the 3 minimum needed to drive current backwards through one battery so the back discharge mode seems unlikely.
it is still possible with one well charged battery and one fully discharged.
The good battery can effectively reverse polarity charge the dead battery.
Unlikely but possible in this case.

A counterfeit battery still sounds possible.


Prior material:

IR remote controls pulse IR LEDs with short pulses of very high current - possibly an amp or more. Most batteries should either provide this or just gracefully fail to do so. A very poor quality battery or a faulty one MAY be affected by such a load.

If the IR control stayed on for some reason then a continued high current may occur. If this happens the IR LED would probably die. If your control still works with a nw battery then this is probably NOT what happened.

It is EXTREMELY unusual for an AAA cell to "explode" in use. You need to say if it was an alkaline, or NimH or ??? type cell.

Some appliances allow charging of the battery inside the equipment. If a non rechargeable battery is charged it MAY explode. This would be rare and it is unlikely your remote allowed charging.


Aspects worth considering in situations like this:

These are suggestions only - necessarily an incomplete list.

What sort of battery - Alkaline, NimH, other?
Ability to deliver high current may increase chances of "energetic" reaction.

How many AA batteries in remote?
Three batteries are required in series for reversal of one battery to cause significant reverse current flow when all batteries are in good condition. (ie one "forward" battery opposes the reversed battery and the remaining 'forward' battery supplies forward current.

IR remote presumably? IR remotes often pulse the LEDs at very high peak current levels - far higher than in most handheld devices. Brand of battery?

Age of battery (time in use)

Was it recharged

Was a non-rechargable battery charged? Can 'cause problems'.

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  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ The cell is alkaline according to the picture. \$\endgroup\$ – AndrejaKo Jan 21 '12 at 11:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RusselMcMahon Could it be caused by mixing old and new batteries and/or inserting one battery backwards? This might result in one battery being reverse biased or being "charged". I'm just speculating here, but it's worth bringing up. \$\endgroup\$ – user3624 Jan 21 '12 at 17:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DavidKessner - I asked if there were multiple batteries and suggested 3+ cells with 1 reversed, causing reverse current in one, but he hasn't replied. Even then I find the result "impressive". \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon Jan 22 '12 at 0:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DavidKessner Indeed, I mixed a new one with an old one, but they are not connected backwards, since I've been using the remote for months before this. \$\endgroup\$ – I'm a frog dragon Jan 22 '12 at 7:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Bulk delete 'edit' rolled back - prior question set converted to a 'things to look for' list. \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon Jul 26 '16 at 6:48

protected by Community Oct 22 '12 at 5:43

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