Mooch's Concerns about Lithcore...

Discussion in 'Battery Junkies / Chargers' started by gsmit1, Jul 19, 2019.

  1. gsmit1

    gsmit1 Gold Contributor Member For 1 Year

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    From HERE
    I have some concerns about Lithicore batteries and all six will receive a Do Not Buy recommendation

    [​IMG]
    MOOCH
    Yes, this is a long post. But I have spent a great deal of time on this since February and I wanted to present everything I have found to date.

    I have been receiving a lot of requests to test Lithicore cells. In February 2019 I started requesting the datasheets and safety documents and began testing after that. I have some concerns about Lithicore and have listed them below. These are merely my personal opinions and thoughts based on my examination and testing of their cells, my conversations with Lithicore, my review of their web site and other social media content, and my discussions with those in the battery industry.

    Copies of some emails: https://imgur.com/a/ZuuJlIg

    Here are my concerns...

    • I attempted to contact Lithicore at least four times in February requesting copies of their datasheets and safety documents and was ignored. It was only after two potential customers helped out and requested copies of the documents (datasheets, MSDS * * , and UN38.3 * test reports) for me that Lithicore contacted me. Even then it took weeks and weeks to get all the documents. This really surprised me. I would hope that any company would have all these documents easily accessible by all of the sales reps and be eager to share them to show their commitment to safety and accurate ratings. Especially with fake, overrated, and low grade cells being such a concern for our community.

    • Lithicore said they couldn’t locate the UN38.3 safety test reports they had done earlier so they had their cells retested after I made my request. Why not just contact the lab and have copies of the earlier reports sent? They did eventually send the requested test reports though.

    • I was very surprised to see that their 2500mAh 18650 looks identical to, and performs essentially identical to, the LG HE2/4.

    • Their 3000mAh 18650 looks identical to, and performs essentially identical to, the Samsung 30Q.

    • Their 3500mAh 18650 looks identical to, and performs essentially identical to, the LG MJ1.

    • Does this prove these are “rewrapped” cells? No. But these are concerns because Lithicore told me that they make their own cells using their factory, one they say they own 20% of.

    • It is also a concern because there are “excluded batteries” lists that are part of many Product Liability Insurance (PLI) policies. Accidents involving any of those batteries would not be covered by that policy. Some list LG cells as being excluded. If any company rewraps LG cells (or any others on the list) then any accidents involving those cells might not be covered by that insurance.

    • I’m not able to comment further on Lithicore’s claims of being fully insured and the coverage that offers to the vendors who buy their cells. As I would for any battery wrapping company, I urge you to have your attorney carefully review the policy and any related documents.

    • Ario from Lithicore, who said he(?) was their Director of Operations, told me their cells look and perform the same as Samsung’s, LG’s, etc., because that they use almost the same material supply chain as Samsung, LG, and Panasonic, from the NCA chemistry to the wrappers. Ario said that they learned from those companies and refer to their production processes as well. I have spoken to some people who know a lot more than I do about the battery industry and they say that it is highly improbable to impossible that Lithicore uses the same parts as those manufacturers. Is that proof? No. But it does concern me.

    • If it was true that Lithicore is buying Samsung and LG parts and chemicals for their 18650’s then why buy three different sets of cans and top contacts to create copies of Samsung and LG cells? That just increases costs. Why not just use all the same contacts, cans, etc., for all the Lithicore 18650’s? Then use the different chemicals, metal foils, plastics, etc., inside where it counts. Additionally, all of the China factories already have metal cans and top contacts in stock. Why buy others and spend more just to look just like Samsung and LG cells? This just doesn’t makes sense to me so it is a concern.

    • Lithicore has been telling people that I have tested their cells. In October 2017 I received two unmarked (no printing on the wraps) 21700 cells from Lithicore for confidential testing. They were free to share the results with anyone they wanted to though. Those 21700’s tested out as decent cells but I do not know if they actually used those cells for the 21700’s they are selling now. No other testing was done until after February 2019. None of my recent test results have been shared with Lithicore or have been posted as of July 18, 2019.

    • Lithicore’s Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)*** list identical chemical compositions for all six of their cells, down to 1/100th of a percent (https://imgur.com/a/u5c86Nt). Even if all of them were actually made by the same factory, using the same chemistry, in my opinion they would not have the same percentages of chemicals, metals, plastics, etc., across four different sizes, six different capacity ratings, and multiple current ratings. Different capacity cells use different ratios of the chemicals. Cells with different current ratings use different thicknesses of metal foil to spread the cell goop on and different thickness and quantities of the metal tabs to conduct the current to and from the top and bottom contacts inside the cells.

    • Lithicore claims in their MSDS’ that all six of their cells use the same battery “chemistry” as LiPo’s. That does not mean they are dangerous! If it was true though it would mean that if they are misused or mishandled that they can go into thermal runaway, and possibly burst, at a lower temperature and that their reactions during runaway are more violent than the other Li-Ion battery chemistries we can use.

    • The MSDS’ claim LiPo chemistry but an email from Ario said that Lithicore sources NCA chemistry as part of what they do for getting the same parts as used in Samsung and LG cells. NCA chemistry is nickel-cobalt-aluminum and it is not the chemistry they list in their MSDS (which is lithium-cobalt-oxide, LCO). This concerns me.

    • When I asked Ario about the LiPo chemistry listed in Lithicore’s MSDS documents and told him my concerns I was told “the engeneer (sic) team may not expose much information as it's their internal decision”.

    • I was also surprised to see Lithicore list the same chemistry as used by LiPo’s in their MSDS’ because that chemistry just isn’t used anymore in the round cells we vape with. I have been told, by those with much more experience in the battery industry than me, that the price of cobalt is just too high to justify its use for low cost round cells like the ones we use. Well, they’re low cost when manufactured. The markups in price before they get to us are huge.

    • An incorrect MSDS would mean that any vendor importing Lithicore cells into their country, like in the EU, would be submitting an incorrect document to the authorities. This means the wrong substances are being registered and could affect whether that vendor can sell the Lithicore cells they bought if the MSDS error is found. I suspect the vendors would be pretty unhappy to hear about that.

    • A big reason why MSDS’ exist in the first place is to inform employees and first-responders of the risks involved if they need to handle a spill or fire involving a product. An incorrect MSDS makes responding properly harder to do. This is unacceptable.

    • If you believe the MSDS safety documents are accurate then Lithicore is using the same chemistry as LiPo’s. If Lithicore is using the NCA chemistry Ario mentioned then the MSDS’ were filed with the wrong information. If any of Lithicore’s cells are rewrapped then NCA or other non-LiPo chemistries are being used and the MSDS’ are wrong. No matter which it actually is, this earns all six Lithicore cells a Do Not Buy recommendation from me. Filing incorrect safety documents would be unacceptable and with all of the other cells we can buy, why would we buy ones that use the same chemistry as LiPo‘s?

    • Lithicore’s web site lists “Max pulse” ratings of 20A-50A for their cells and they told me that the ratings are “estimated by current terminal voltage (-) minimum voltage (÷) lumped resistance". This confused me because that’s just an Ohm’s Law equation for how much current would flow at a particular voltage and resistance. It doesn’t address pulse length, pulse frequency, cell cycle life, safety, or anything else that would be part of setting a rating. How long are the pulses? How often can the cell be pulsed at its rating? What end-of-cell-life criteria are used to set the rating? Can I pulse a 50A rated Lithicore cell at 50A for any amount of time with any amount of time between pulses? No. While Lithicore’s pulse numbers may indicate a capability of the cell they cannot, in my opinion, be considered ratings.
     
  2. gsmit1

    gsmit1 Gold Contributor Member For 1 Year

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    • On the About Us page of the Lithicore web site they state that their cells “have 4 levels of protection most batteries don’t!”. They list these as CID Protection, PTC Protection, Vent Protection, and Separator Protection. But every Li-Ion cell we use has a venting disk and every Li-Ion cell we use has a plastic separator to keep the positive and negative sides from touching.

    • Most, if not all, of the cells we use also have CID (current interrupt device) protection to stop the current flow if the internal pressure builds up too much. Many of the higher capacity cells from the major manufacturers also have PTC (positive temperature/thermal coefficient) protection to significantly reduce the amount of current flowing if the cell gets too hot. While Lithicore might be technically correct stating that most batteries don’t have all four of these protections probably all of the Li-Ion batteries we use have three and many have all four.

    • Since Lithicore says their cells have PTC’s I took apart one of Lithicore’s 2500mAh 18650’s and one of their 2950mAh 20700’s. There was no sign of a PTC protection feature in either of those cells. The PTC material is a flat disk, looking much like the plastic top ring insulators underneath the wrap at the top of all of the Li-Ion round cells we use. When used, it is an internal part of the top contact structure of a round cell and current flows through it until it reaches a certain temperature. At that point it turns into a high resistance material to limit the current flow. But I have been told, and have read, that higher performance cells (those that do not have low current ratings) do not use PTC protection. This is because it limits performance of the cell due to the bit of resistance the PTC material has even when it’s not hot. My teardown of these two cells seems to confirm that. But Lithicore says all of their cells have the PTC protection feature so this is a concern to me.
    Until recently the Lithicore web site had blog entries about vape batteries. I was very happy to see that these were recently deleted. A couple titles were “What are vape batteries?” and “Best vape mod batteries”. In those blog entries Lithicore made the following claims...

    • “Unlike other battery manufacturers, Lithicore batteries were designed specifically for vaping...”. This was quite surprising to see considering that their 18650’s are identical to certain Samsung and LG cells, which Lithicore correctly says are not made for vaping. But Lithicore claims to have copied those cells...very confusing.

    • “They aren’t just the most powerful mod lithium batteries on the market though, they are also the safest with 4 levels of protection you won’t get anywhere else”. In my opinion this just isn’t true. Most powerful? There are several cells that are “more powerful”. That protection isn’t available anywhere else? There are a LOT of cells made with all four levels of the protection that they mention; CID, PTC, separator, and vent. At least two of Lithicore cells didn’t seem to even have the PTC protection feature.

    • They also claimed “Only one company manufactures batteries that are designed for vaping...that company, of course, is Lithicore Tech.” What does “designed for vaping” mean? Their cells are similar to dozens of others (and identical to three) we use made by the big manufacturers that Lithicore correctly says don’t make ones designed for vaping. Very confusing.

    • Lithicore said that “PTC” meant “Pressure, Temperature, Current Protection”. While that is a marketing phrase used by a couple of companies like Tenergy, it actually stands for Positive Temperature Coefficient or Positive Thermal Coefficient. I was surprised that a company which claims to design and manufacture batteries used the word “pressure” here since the PTC device offers no (over)pressure protection! The PTC protection feature is only activated when its temperature rises above a certain level. The internal CID protection device is what handles overpressure.
    Thankfully these blog entries were recently deleted. But that they ever existed is a concern.

    If you share any of my concerns I encourage you to discuss them with Lithicore. I’d be very interested in reading their responses if you are willing to share them. I will keep your name completely confidential. You can forward them to me at [email protected]. If you have any questions or anything you want to discuss or share with me please feel free to PM me.

    That’s all until I post the test reports for Lithicore’s cells.

    Regards, Mooch

    **UN38.3 covers basic cell testing to demonstrate a resistance to certain misuse and mishandling. The testing is required for most Li-Ion batteries in order for them to be shipped: https://www.batteryspace.com/prod-specs/UN_Test_Manual_Lithium_Battery_Requirements 5.1.pdf

    ***Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are the documents that list the chemical composition of a product, describing any hazards when using them, and list how to handle spills, fires, etc., involving the product. They are important safety documents and are used by employees and first responders to better understand what they are dealing with if there is an accident or fire involving the product.
     
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  3. gsmit1

    gsmit1 Gold Contributor Member For 1 Year

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    Long piece, but very interesting.
     
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  4. PoppaVic

    PoppaVic Gold Contributor Member For 4 Years

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    Bets on the time-lag in documents being "who's got a copy we can copy and edit?" ;-)

    Fool Killer is lurking about...
     
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  5. The Cromwell

    The Cromwell The Frugal Vapist VU Donator Diamond Contributor Member For 3 Years

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    Yep read it on another site.
    Moral of the story is only buy LG, Samsung, Sony, etc from a mooch approved vendor.
    Even the Ijoy cells are labelled the same but have different cells under the wrappers.

    As Mooch has said just because he tests a rewrap and gets good results does not mean you will, they can change what is under the wrapper and do.
     
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  6. Rhianne

    Rhianne Platinum Contributor ECF Refugee

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    Saw this on Reddit and was hoping someone would post it here. Thanks!




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  7. Rhianne

    Rhianne Platinum Contributor ECF Refugee

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    So what vendors are Mooch approved? I’ll need some more 18650’s soon.
    Howdy, Cromwell. Hope you’re doing okay. Don’t mow in this heat, please. We like you alive and all! :wave:


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  8. The Cromwell

    The Cromwell The Frugal Vapist VU Donator Diamond Contributor Member For 3 Years

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    Rhianne and gsmit1 like this.
  9. Rhianne

    Rhianne Platinum Contributor ECF Refugee

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    Thanks, I’ll get them from Illumn. No patience buying from Europe or the UK, unless it’s something really amazing.

    I saw Mooch’s report yesterday and couldn’t believe how long it was!! Have a good night. :wave:


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  10. gopher_byrd

    gopher_byrd Cranky Old Fart VU Donator Gold Contributor ECF Refugee Member For 5 Years

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    Liion Wholesale is my favorite. @[email protected] is very helpful here on VU. I placed an order last weekend and they were waiting for me when I got home from this weeks business trip. Plus if you use one of the slightly more expensive shipping options you get a free LI ion flashlight. I have four flashlights from them spread throughout my house with old vape cells in them.

    I'd use Illumn as well, but I would have to pay sales tax and shipping unless I happen to go into my companies office, which is rare. Illumn's storefront is only a mile from the office.
     
  11. ajvapes

    ajvapes Silver Contributor Member For 3 Years

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    Ditto
     
  12. Rhianne

    Rhianne Platinum Contributor ECF Refugee

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    Thanks, I’ll check out Liion. I got some 18650’s when I ordered my last kit from Element and so far so good. Those flashlights would be good, though. Nice that they use vape friendly batteries. Have a good night tonight.


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