Aussie cyclist wants to raise awareness of the danger of damaged lithium-ion batteries

Gareth Clear of Bondi, Australia shows the burn caused by an iPhone battery explosion. Photo from Sydney Morning Herald. 

Gareth Clear of Bondi, Australia shows the burn caused by an iPhone battery explosion. Photo from Sydney Morning Herald. 

The lithium-ion batteries used in almost all of our portable electronics are wonderful. They pack a lot of power into a small volume and can hold a charge when not being used. But as 36-year-old Australian mountain biker Gareth Clear found out, a broken battery can rupture and cause serious burns.

Clear was going on a ride and fell off of his bike when his foot slipped off the pedal as he was about to start moving. The fall damaged his iPhone, and then things went downhill from there. Said Clear, "I just saw smoke coming out of my back pocket... and then all of a sudden I felt this surging pain. I just remember looking at my leg and I had this black discharge all down my leg and this smell of phosphorus."

The battery had ruptured, and Clear suffered third degree burns to his upper right thigh. As a result of the burn, Clear received a skin graft. Clear posted about the incident on Twitter and received what appeared to be an automated response from Apple. Since then, Apple Australia has contacted Clear to get more details.

Gareth Clear recovering from his burn in a Sydney-area hospital. Photo via Sydney Morning Herald. 

Gareth Clear recovering from his burn in a Sydney-area hospital. Photo via Sydney Morning Herald. 

Clear says he doesn't blame Apple for his injury, but he wants to raise awareness about the dangers of damaged lithium-ion batteries in devices like the iPhone. "The more pervasive these are in our lives and the more people use them with a lack of apprehension that something might go wrong, the more that these things will happen," said Clear.

Back at the beginning of July, Apple World Today ran an article about bulging lithium-ion batteries. Although overcharging might not have been the cause of the issue we wrote about, properly disposing of that iPhone was the safe thing to do.