PC Makers Follow Recalls with Meeting to Address Battery Safety

August 30, 2006

Dell Inc. and Apple Computer Inc., which recalled nearly 6 million notebook batteries between them this month, are among PC makers planning to meet next month to discuss setting design and safety standards for lithium-ion batteries used in portable electronic devices.

The batteries were blamed in rare fires that prompted this month’s recalls, the largest electronic recalls involving federal product-safety officials.

Dell and Apple belong to an electronics-industry trade group that sets standards for many electronics components.

The group’s critical-parts committee will meet Sept. 13 in San Jose, Calif. Sony Corp., which made the recalled batteries, has not indicated whether it will attend.

Kim Sterling, a spokeswoman for the trade group IPC, said Monday that the meeting had been scheduled before Dell’s Aug. 14 recall of 4.1 million notebook batteries and Apple’s recall 10 days later of 1.8 million batteries.

A Dell executive, John Grosso, leads the IPC’s critical- components committee.

“Without a doubt, standardization can and will address the issue of operation and safety called into question by the use of lithium ion batteries,” Grosso said in a statement issued by the organization. “While the committee had identified lithium ion batteries as the next product for standardization, we are going to accelerate our activities now.”

During production of the Sony batteries, made by a unit in Japan, tiny metal shards got into cells and under some circumstances caused the batteries to short-circuit and even catch fire.

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