We talked to Richard Bailey, Managing Director, Environmental Defence Systems, the company behind the AvSax.
On every flight there are likely to be hundreds of mobile phones, tablets, laptops and gadgets, all powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. In some scenarios, these can overheat, causing the device to catch fire.
The reaction is known as ‘thermal runaway’, a rapid, uncontrolled chemical reaction within the battery that causes the internal temperature to rise. When one cell in a battery overheats it can produce enough heat – up to 900°C (1652°F) – to cause adjacent cells to overheat. This can cause a lithium battery fire to flare repeatedly.
Now a pioneering invention called the AvSax aims to minimise the danger in seconds with its unique use of water.
AvSax absorbs the force
Users need to pour two litres of water into an AvSax bag and then drop the burning device into the bag. The water activates the polymer gel inside the bag causing it to expand around the device. Should the device keep on venting, the AvSax is tough enough to absorb the force.
AvSax cools the batteries in the device, reducing the likelihood of the battery catching fire. If it does go into thermal runaway, everything is contained within the bag.
Bailey said: “We have sold over 10,000 units and they’re now on board 35 national carriers around the world.”
He says there have been 20 live incidents on aeroplanes where the AvSax has been used, avoiding the need for a diversion, which can cost $400,000, Bailey said.