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Energy, Engineering

Monash Expert: Lithium battery plant fire in South Korea

Monash University 2 mins read

A Monash University expert is available to provide comment after a fire broke out at a lithium battery factory in South Korea today:

Professor Matthew Hill, Head (incoming), Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Contact details: +61 408 878 529 or

The following quotes can be attributed to Professor Hill:

“This is an absolute tragedy. The chemistry appears to be Lithium-Thionyl-Chloride, a non-rechargeable battery. The battery uses metallic lithium as an anode, and thionyl chloride as the cathode. When these batteries are used in consumer products, they are usually very small, and used in low power systems like sensors and radio communication devices.

“It is important to note that this fire happened in a manufacturing facility and not in the use of batteries. All batteries go through a pre-treatment procedure that makes them much safer before they are sold to the general public. This process is often called activation or pre-conditioning, which wouldn’t have happened yet in this example.

“This is a good opportunity to remind the public that lithium ion batteries are exceedingly safe when used as per their specification, e.g. not at too high a temperature. All batteries are programmed to operate under conditions deemed safe. This program is called a battery management system, or BMS. For example, people might have experienced their phone shutting down if left in the hot sun, say on the dashboard of a car. This is the BMS protecting the battery. 

“New types of batteries are an important area of research, and we have some very encouraging early experimental test results showing that batteries being developed at Monash are even safer again than lithium ion batteries.”

Responsible e-waste disposal

“If you notice your battery swelling, you should immediately replace it and dispose of it safely. Many supermarkets or Officeworks stores have facilities to collect and store old batteries safely.”

Drop off used batteries for recycling at your closest e-waste drop-off site.

For more Monash media stories visit our news & events site:

For any other topics on which you may be seeking expert comment, contact the Monash University Media Unit on +61 3 9903 4840 or

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