On every flight there may well be hundreds of mobile phones, tablets and laptops all powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries … but there is always a possibility that poor quality or damaged batteries can overheat, causing the device to catch fire.
This is known as thermal runaway, a rapid, uncontrolled chemical reaction within the battery that causes the internal temperature to rise.
When one cell in a battery overheats it can produce enough heat - up to 900°C (1652°F) - to cause adjacent cells to overheat. This can cause a lithium battery fire to flare repeatedly.
Federal Aviation Administration data in the USA reveals that in just nine years battery-powered devices were involved in 113 incidents with "smoke, fire, extreme heat or explosion" on passenger and cargo planes and there have been a spate recently involving Samsung Note 7 mobile phones which have been recalled after it was discovered they have potentially faulty batteries.
Now a pioneering invention called the AvSax can minimise that danger in seconds with its unique use of water.
Simply pour at least two litres of water into an AvSax and then drop the burning device into the bag. The water activates the polymer gel inside the bag causing it to expand around the device. Should the device keep on venting then the AvSax is tough enough to absorb the force.
In short, the AvSax cools the batteries in the device, reducing the likelihood of the battery catching fire but if it does go into thermal runaway it is all contained within the bag.
AvSax managing director Richard Bailey said: “AvSax is the result of many years of development, drawing on experience from the production of a similar device designed for military applications such as suppressing explosions.
“Carrying an AvSax is a ‘one-size-fits-all, easy to use method of dealing with an incident involving a portable electronic device that has caught or is showing signs of catching fire in the cabin or on the flight deck.
“With so many poor quality and fake batteries around there’s no doubt that incidents will continue to happen.”