Lipo ballooned up, what should I do? - RCCanada - Canada Radio Controlled Hobby Forum
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Old 11-21-2007, 10:43 AM   #1
Donkey Doctor
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Lipo ballooned up, what should I do?

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Hello; The Lipo (1800mah, 7.2V) that came with my parkflyers Gee Bee 3D ballooned up the last time I tried to charge it up on the supplied charger set to 1.4 amps. I called a friend of mine for advice; He said that another friend of his just continued using it like that, and has been using it for over a year now since it ballooned. He said that there is some decreased capacity, and that he keeps a close eye on it while charging it.

Other fellow that I have asked have said to toss it, since it's ruined.

Now these things are expensive, and I don't want to go tossing money away if there's fun to be had with them.

I'm not interested in hearing from people who are just repeating what they have heard or read from the manufacturers. I want to hear from people who have real experience similar to this situation, to help me out.

What should I do?
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Old 11-21-2007, 10:56 AM   #2
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The only puffed LiPo I have is one that came out of a bluetooth headset, it works with decreased capacity, but I sure wouldn't want it in my ear (besides , you never charge it with the headset in your ear.)

1) Get a balancing charger.
2) Get a charge bag and use it.

Eventually all batteries need replacement, this one just has a slightly shorter life.
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To err is human, to moo is bovine
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Old 11-21-2007, 12:23 PM   #3
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I have one that ballooned on me the first time I used it.
I let it sit for a few weeks, and it went back to normal.
I carefully charged and discharged it a couple times, and it seemed fine.
I have a couple dozen flights on it now, and it is working fine, maybe a bit less output but barely noticable.
Just use care, and it may be fine.
(I heard the same thing, "Quick, throw it out before it explodes!!!"...glad I ignored that advice.)
Ron Mattiuz

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"Flying an airplane is just like riding a bike...except it's harder to put cards in the spokes"
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Old 11-21-2007, 02:56 PM   #4
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One of the guys in our club had a lipo catch fire on the back of his truck this summer. I was a bit cavalier about them as well but after seeing the results of that incident I personally wouldn't even consider hooking a ballooned lipo to a charger, let alone continue to use it.

When yours catches fire you'll understand.
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"If you're a Kangaroo, what is Grampie", I ask.
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Old 11-21-2007, 03:21 PM   #5
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Once a pack balloons it becomes a potential liability.

If it's severe ballooning I wouldn't even bother trying to charge it and just chuck it. If it's only a minor bubble on the top of the pack, the battery will most likely still be OK for use but, as stated, reduced capacity and performance will be a result, and you will always need to keep a very close eye on the pack, especially during charge and heavy discharge. It's normal for lipos to expand a bit during use and then contract as the pack cools down. But if ballooning persists after the pack has cooled the cells have been damaged.

It obviously becomes a potential fire hazard using physically damaged packs. Some people can live with the risk, some people can't, which is what it comes down to in the end.

You can smash up a lipo pretty good and it'll still deliver current, but for how long it remains to do so safely is like playing the lottery.
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Old 11-21-2007, 03:47 PM   #6
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When these battery packs have ballooned and it is time to 'chuck' them, what is the safe method of disposal. Is there a significant risk of them lighting on fire in a garbage truck that has a compactor?

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Old 11-21-2007, 04:21 PM   #7
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To be perfectly honest Rusty, all i've ever seen is highly varied information, even from the manufacturers, of how to properly dispose of lithium batteries. They can't seem to agree on the proper method. Some of it even conflicting with each other.

My guess is, short of bringing the batteries to a hazardous chemical dump or dump that accepts batteries (most MFG's suggest this), there is no "good, clean" way to dispose of lithium batteries. However, there are confirmed methods to make them safe enough to chuck.

First off, the soaking in salt-water method everyone says to use does not work as most would claim from all i've seen. Due to galvanic corrosion the tabs on the lithium cells will corrode away long before the cells them selves are discharged and made harmless. They will still contain stored energy, even after weeks of soaking.
However, a salt water bath DOES neutralize the electrolyte in the battery making the chemistry less hazardous. But the cells must be punctured or slit open for this to happen (see below).

Lithium batteries, to the best of my understanding, only pose a fire hazard when they contain stored energy. The best method for safely "disarming" a lithium battery is to place the pack in a fire safe area, then apply a very light load on the pack (like a small light bulb) and let it discharge to 0.0 volts. At this point the pack should no longer pose a fire hazard.
Throwing out a fully charged lithium battery is about the worst thing you can do.

Once the pack is fully discharged, then you can puncture or slit the cells on the side, and soak it in salt water for a few days to fully neutralize the cells and make it less harmful to throw out.

Obviously, at this point, the pack still contains chemicals and lithium salts however, so it's not the best thing to be chucking into our dumps one way or the other. It's not the cleanest method of disposal. Especially when said chemicals could end up in our water table.
Of course, I don't think it matters anymore anyways. Who knows what kind of nicd, alkaline and nimh piles they already got in the dumps.

You could also go for the all american route, stick the pack between some cinder blocks, overcharge it, and watch the fireworks.. Hoo ah!
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Old 11-22-2007, 09:40 AM   #8
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In Calgary you can drop off rechargeable batteries at fire stations for recycling. I haven't checked if they take lipos, but the info sheet doesn't have any exclusions, so it might be worth checking with your local FD.

You could probably check here, too:
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Old 11-26-2007, 06:16 PM   #9
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I have had Radio Shack accept lipo's for disposal. I also have had one "blow" due to improper charging and one "blow" upon crashing. Both impressive pyrotechnic displays. Also had a friend burn down part of his house and garage.

Finally, I have also used slightly puffed batteries again, but certainly noticed reduced useful flying time. I do not store these type of batteries in the house or garage. Once the chemistry in a lipo has been compromised its potential to "blow" during use or charging has increased. If you value your plane, or more important, your house, I would recommend disposal, to be safe. The ensuing conversation with your spouse about why your garage burned down might be a little stressful.

Also, be sure to get yourself a decent balancing charger. They are now available for around $60 and well worth it.
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Old 11-28-2007, 05:03 PM   #10
ron van sommeren
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Disconnect LiPo's from ESC after a days flying, ESC will always draw a small amount of current.

Vriendelijke groeten Ron van Sommeren
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