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Battery/Product Failure, question

Battery/Product Failure, question

Battery/Product Failure, question


This is my first post, but it definitely seems like this board is a great resource. I just graduated from a good engineering school with a degree in EE, and am now getting into forensics. I'm pretty green but am already on a big case involving a certain company and a product of theirs that has caused a large-loss fire.

So I am taking apart the product, learning about how it works, taking out the PCB, and looking at the remains of some of the products that have failed. Basically what happened was that the battery literally blew out- they were 9V duracells, standard stuff, and you can literally tell on a few of these products that somehow something caused these things to explode (on the side opposite the cathode and anode).

I'm not really allowed to get into any more detail about the comapny that makes the product, but I did call Duracell and spoke to a low-level consumer questions guy. He casually mentioned that there is a known compatibility issue between the Duracells and this product, and he had no idea what it was caused by. However, he was not able to directly put me in contact with a design person or engineer at Duracell, or someone that could tell me a little more about what might cause a battery to do that.

I would love to talk to some engineers at the unnamed company, but because of the nature of our business, there are a lot of legal issues at stake and a product recall is potentially in the works, so I guess it's not good to tip our hand at this point. So my task as an aspiring green forensics EE is to determine the cause of this failure without talking to any engineers or design people at the unnamed company. This could prove to be tough, and I need suggestions or resources for getting in touch with people that might be able to give me specifics about battery failure.

I also need information on how to get in contact with important people in large companies. Duracell, I am sure, would love to learn more about this issue, so I think talking to a battery engineer there wouldn't be a problem, but I am running into the same problem that people have when they need to speak to the President of the United States. And as of right now, (graduated a month ago), I do not have an enourmous list of contacts in the EE field that I can turn to for expert advice on certain subjects.

Jimmy Goebel
Mid-West Forensic Services, Inc.

RE: Battery/Product Failure, question


The kind of people that you'd want to talk with often have one thing in common: They are experts in their field and keep themselves there through continuous education. So you'll often find them at industry conferences presenting papers. The papers usually will have contact information on them, often an email or even a direct phone number.

In my field for example, I'd recommend getting some ASME Pressure Vessels and Piping conference volumes and searching through those for authors who may be writing about relevant topics. In your case, you'll probably find a relevant IEEE or similar conference which publishes papers. Once you get in contact with one of them they may not be able to help you directly but, depending on your demeanor and their mood, may provide you with some other contacts to check.

Good luck!


RE: Battery/Product Failure, question

Hi jt,
First of all, this forum is really something else.  It's nice seeing engineers come together like this and it is something I am very happy I stumbled on.

I am going to start looking through IEEE publications for related papers, and will hopefully find some experts on batteries or fuel-cell technology.  Thanks for that recommedation.

RE: Battery/Product Failure, question

As a recent grad your biggest contact list right now might be your past professors.  They may not know much about the specifics of the problem but I'll bet they know industry people who do.  Talk to some of them for leads to industry experts.

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