Expert on lithium batteries: ‘They’re safe’

Samsung Galaxy Note 7
This Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, photo provided by Andrew Zuis, of Farmington, Minn., shows the replacement Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phone belonging to his 13-year-old daughter Abby, that melted in her hand earlier in the day. (Andrew Zuis via AP)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Even as Samsung has stopped production of its Galaxy Note 7 after its lithium batteries sparked fires, another company, Roylco, is recalling toy educational light cubes because their lithium battery can overheat and catch fire.

But Hank Sybesma, who some call the foremost expert on this subject in West Michigan, says he doesn’t think there’s a cause for great concern.

“There are millions and millions of these batteries being used every day, and they’re safe,” he said. “There is obviously something going on with some of the batteries out there. I think in an effort to make a battery have more power … it’s possible that we’re seeing some companies that are maybe doing some incorrect steps to get to get to that point where we can get more power. More bang for the buck — well, unfortunately, the bang is going the wrong way.”

His company, Sybesma’s Electronics, tests lithium batteries. Overall, he said, they are stable and don’t just self-destruct. Managing systems, he said, are usually the problem.

That being said, he said he doesn’t yet have enough evidence to know what’s causing the fires in the Galaxy Note 7s.

==Above, Sybesma discusses how the batteries work and how they differ across various uses, and one safety rule he uses himself.==