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Underwriters Labs tightens tests for lithium-ion batteries

National Transportation Safety Board investigators display the exterior case of a thermal-damaged lithium ion battery, as a part of their ongoing investigation into why the battery caught fire in a Japan Airlines’ 787 parked at Boston Logan International Airport Jan. 7. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters / June 12, 2013)

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Reuters

5:02 p.m. CDT, June 12, 2013

Underwriters Laboratories has beefed up standards for lithium-ion batters like those used in electric vehicles and the 787 Dreamliner.
Weaknesses were highlighted when regulators grounded Boeing’s 787 for nearly four months this year after lithium-ion batteries overheated on two jets in January, leading to a fire in one.

Even so, analysts expect a growing number of products to rely on the batteries, which are more powerful and resilient than their traditional counterparts. The global market for lithium-ion batteries is expected to double by 2016.

In articles published on its website on Wednesday, Underwriters, the 119-year-old company, said it has developed a more vigorous test to prevent short circuits in the battery cell that can lead to a fire. It is also refining safety and testing standards for larger batteries increasingly used in hybrid and electric cars.

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