Victoria leads charge for child-safe batteries

Design lecturer Jeongbin Ok has hit upon a solution to minimise the damage of swallowing coin-sized, button cell lithium batteries, commonly found in electronic devices such as toys and remote controls, which can result in serious harm or death if not treated within two hours.

In collaboration with one of the world's largest , Mr Ok, who has qualifications in design and chemical engineering, has spent the last three years developing modifications to button batteries.

His invention involves applying a thin layer of highly concentrated food colouring to the surface of button batteries during production. The food colouring is activated by saliva.

"If a child swallows a battery it will immediately stain their mouth, so that caregivers know what has happened and can seek immediately," says Mr Ok.

To assess the viability of his invention, Viclink, Victoria's commercialisation office, helped Mr Ok to identify a suitable partner, putting in place a joint development and licensing agreement. Mass production is expected to begin early next year.

"For Victoria University to be involved in a project that will have global implications for the safety of children is a great opportunity. I hope that once the product is commercialised it will become an industry standard," he says.

Mr Ok is also working on new packaging technology to keep loose batteries secure and provide a safe way of disposing of used batteries.

His research has led to Victoria University being the only academic institution to partner in a national and global initiative, called The Battery Controlled, which is focused on preventing children from swallowing .

Related Stories

Tiny batteries pose growing threat to kids

date Aug 30, 2012

(HealthDay)—As the use of small button batteries has become more widespread to power devices such as toys, watches and hearing aids, more young children have swallowed them, resulting in choking and even ...

Recommended for you

Text messaging useful for reaching 'at-risk' teens about sex

date 16 hours ago

Text messaging that connects teens with sexual health educators is effective for delivering sexual health information, according to a recent study in The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University.The ...

Optimum style for running a marathon?

date 23 hours ago

Most of the brave and hardy runners in Sunday's London Marathon will have put themselves through a lengthy training programme to build up strength and stamina as well as physical and mental fitness.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.