Electronics Giant, Huawei, Under the Cosh.
Accused of Stealing Trade Secrets and Danger That Lurks in Lithium- Iron Batteries.Click thumbnail to view full-size
Amazing technology, but Lithium-Iron Batteries have danger built-in.
Many of you will have a broadband supply by means of a Mobile WiFi. Mine is a Huawei, there are others. This small device plugs into a power supply, either on the wall, or in a USB slot on your computer, etc.
Mine had been here for about 4 years. I wondered why, like it's user, the battery was putting on weight? I had to take it out of its plastic cover a few times to get at the code, broadband provider, Three UK, or the Huawei company, had imprinted under the battery. Each time it was harder to put back together and replace the clip-on cover. Finally, the battery had become so engorged I had to tape at first, then superglue in place and forget the cover.
Yesterday, it gave up the ghost all together and my broadband link disappeared from the WiFi availability page. You will note the names made up in this article because the scribbler has no clue as to the accepted name. Technology and this scribe make bad bedfellows. So it was a trip to nearby Bishops Stortford - no, it doesn't require the possessive, alert hubbers! This was the nearest branch of Chinese owned Three. The Chinese will own the world soon, if the US doesn't control them first and give the Rhinos a break!
There were two employees present, one being the assistant manageress, the other perhaps employed to ogle her; nice looking chickadee. We can say that in print, who's to say us nay? Google Absence...? OK, won't do it again.
The offending gadget was placed on the table. Both employees threw up their hands. "Don't touch that again!" the boss lady said. "None of my staff will either!" This because I had been making motions to play with getting the battery out with my car keys.
Well! What's the problem? "Do you know they can explode" the assistants put in. He rapidly called up some pictures from his 'phone. They showed Huawei units going up like firecrackers: wouldn't damage you unless you were real close, "But," he explained, "The danger is if you're out and a fire starts." Or, as I read later, you happen to be 35,000 feet in the air!
The manageress told me mine was one of the worst units, condition-wise, brought in to the shop. Ooooo! no more ogling from me. The battery was about 3 times its original thickness and seemed to them as if it could explode any time!
Then came good news. I had had a contract with them for 4 years and it had expired some time ago. The upshot was a new Huawei device, with the code written on the front, so the unit wouldn't need dismantling every time to find the code numbers. And it was free! Also, a new two-year contract bought me Broadband for £9 instead of £16 p/month, and mobile phone for £9 p/month, also, down from the previous £22! How did I like them apples? Gave Granny Smiths' a run for their money, I can tell ya!
I reached home with my posh new gizmo. Sorted the broadband right away. A quick trip around Wiki, etc., confirmed that exploding mobile phone and like devices was all too common.
The following in an excerpt from a Wikipedia article regarding Huawei's other worries...
"Huawei last week sued the US government for banning its equipment from being used in federal agencies over security concerns. The company also faces a fight to avoid the extradition of its CFO, Meng Wanzhou, from Canada to the US to stand trial for alleged trade secret theft." ®
This refers to the company's ongoing problems accused of stealing trade secrets. Meng Wanzhou (also known as Sabrina) remains under an order of deportation to the US which she is contesting, with some sympathy from the Canadian judge, who has put off the hearing until September this year.
The company also faces litigation from several customers who received burns, etc., from exploding mobile phones (cell phones).
Giant Samsung has received literally dozens of complaints from users of their in-house Note 7 cellphone. In fact, at least four major airlines have banned the phones from the their flights. It seems they operate their own battery manufacturers in China. One plant caught fire recently when batteries, said to be on a waste pile and not the assembly line, exploded in flames.
There is little on the WWW mentioning Huawei products...the Chinese are reluctant to let much get into the public domain.
The photo shows a lithium-iron battery similar to the one I had in my MB. Along with other information provided by Huawei, is this:-
" * Do not modify or disassemble the E585 battery by yourself.
* Do not incinerate or expose HUAWEI E585 battery to excessive heat and wet substances like water .
* Do not try piercing, hitting, crushing or any abuse use of the E585 mifi battery. (My comment: Swearing at it, apparently, won't help).
* Avoid short circuit of the terminals by keeping your 3 E585 battery pack away from metal objects such as necklaces or hairpins."
You can see English is not their first language, "wet substances like water!" (or your gin 'n' T we presume).
The obvious safety suggestion might be, "Turn the device off and unplug when you leave the house." Of course, you can't do this with your cell phone."
The problem with these incredible Lithium-Iron batteries (Also Li-Ion, or LIB batteries) is they contain a flammable electrolyte and you'll have to go to Wikipedia for the complex technology explained therein, as well as the dozens of similar batteries using different chemical combinations.
There's a lot of them around! Huawei alone provided 660 million in 2012.
The real worry is not so much the individual cells, although the results can be bad enough after an explosion and a fire.
UPS Flight 6 from Dubai crashed when its bank of lithium cells caught fire, disabling much of what the aircraft needed to fly.
Autos, such as the Tesla, contain more than 7,000 LIB cells. This a hot potato for an industry going battery-electric...there is little information of what the results of a fire could be, much less the bbbbang! There have been fires in Tesla cars involving fire personnel who say they should get special training to handle fires including lithium iron battery banks. They complain of highly toxic fumes and the difficulty of extinguishing such fires. They say calling Tesla has been necessary to get advice. Meanwhile, manufacturers such as Toyota have gone to a different technology with their electric cars saying their batteries are cheaper and safer.
Meanwhile experiments using a less flammable electrolyte or system continues.
Huawei is no lightweight. They have 180,000 employees in 170 countries or regions.
If you have a problem, Howard Liang (really Liang Hua) will be the man to call...he's the Chairman, the big banana. It's cute to see the upper directorate all have Anglicized first names!
The company has been in business since 1987 and they are just becoming really competitive in the cell phone market...is that why the US, favoring their huge, grumbling electronics industry, is so pissed off!!
This writer should also make it clear these type of batteries, and reported problems, are not confined to the fine Huawei Company.
Afterword: It's hard to see whether giant, Huawei, is laughing with Europe or laughing at us. If they admire many things European (as is likely) then this explains why their huge electronics facility in the Pearl River Delta, China, contains castles, (a copy of Germany's Heidelberg Castle), districts named for Paris, Bruges and Verona, etc., and even a tram network featuring cars imported from Switzerland!
Is this cocking the snook at USA's Silicon Valley with its bland, technocratic exteriors? Europeans should certainly have a fuzzy glow, after all, isn't imitation said to be the sincerest form of flattery?
And how can Theresa May be contemplating barring Huawei's products to support the United State's action? I mean, we don't have many people that love us these days and if we can persuade our Asian brothers to just leave Africa's wildlife alone, perhaps Huawei can be useful to us very soon...we are certainly one of their important marketplaces already. I have had Huawei products for 5 years and swear by them.
Final thought. "Nomophobia," the fear of being cut off from your phone!