Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/06/19/sony_and_toshiba_laptop_fire/

Toshiba laptop goes up in smoke

Sony-made battery was covered by last year's recall

By James Sherwood

Posted in Hardware, 19th June 2007 11:21 GMT

Toshiba has no doubt left Sony feeling a little hot under the collar after announcing that yet another of the laptop battery packs made by its Japanese rival has burst into flames, nuking the notebook good and proper.

Although Toshiba kept specific details of the blaze close to its chest, the company confirmed that the incident took place last month and was caused by a short-circuit within the battery.

Such fires are thought to be caused by irregularities within lithium-ion batteries. Sony has said that - in this case - the fire was caused by microscopic metal particles getting inside the battery and causing it to short-circuit.

Toshiba added that the battery was one which should have been replaced under the swap-out scheme it embarked upon last year following a spate of fires caused by malfunctioning Sony-made batteries.

Toshiba warned customers who have not yet returned batteries included in the recall to do so pronto. The recall is a global one.

Laptop battery fires have now become a widespread talking point and multiple vendors have already been caught out by similar incidents, including Lenovo, Fujitsu and Apple.

The scale of the problem has even prompted the U.S. Department of Transportation to begin warning passengers to take precautions while flying with a laptop or mobile phone.

Panasonic, meanwhile, has turned this fear into a sales opportunity by designing a "safe" lithium-ion rechargeable battery, which works by inserting a layer of heat-resistant insulating material to prevent fire-starting internal short-circuits.