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Battery fires often remain cold cases

Causes of overheating can defy easy explanation

TOKYO -- Though Samsung Electronics declared that battery defects caused its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone to catch fire, the factors that add up to such combustion are often difficult to determine.

Fires in lithium-ion batteries are frequently started by chemical reactions, but these may owe to a complex interplay of factors, both internal and external. Increases in battery capacity and other technical aspects add to the challenges facing investigators.

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