[sclug] Exploding batteries

David Given dg at cowlark.com
Sun Oct 21 18:55:07 UTC 2007

Hash: SHA1

No, not the Sony ones.

I have an old Amstrad NC200 laptop. It's slightly historic and moderately rare
- --- there aren't many Z80 laptops around (128kB RAM, 720kB floppy drive,
PCMCIA type I slot (yes, I), 480x128 mono screen). It had a ten-hour battery
life, which sounds good until you realise that it ran off five C batteries.

Unfortunately, said C batteries have gone all manky while it was in storage.
(Yeah, I know  should have remembered to remove them.) They're Duracells, and
they've all burst, and they've oozed chemical goop everywhere. When I found it
the goop had long since set, leaving a white powdery residue; but it had
apparently been at some pressure, because the battery compartment lid was
bowed outward, and judging by the way its come out of the screen hinges, the
main motherboard compartment contains quite a lot of the stuff. I haven't
quite dared to take the lid off yet.

My question is: does anyone have any recommendations as to the best way of
cleaning this stuff up? Is this, in fact, fixable, or will the chemical mess
be likely to have damaged the motherboard beyond repair? (The foam pads in the
battery compartment seem to have been eaten completely.) The thing uses
surface-mount components and a multi-layer motherboard, so I know that it's
not very robust physically.

Luckily it didn't have any data on it. Or, at least, it doesn't now. No flash;
it used battery-backed RAM...

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