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Fairfield startup working on child-safe battery technology

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FAIRFIELD — Days after the U.S. Senate passed a law aimed at making it more difficult for children to ingest batteries, a Fairfield-based start-up has found another way to make batteries safer. We have announced that we have made significant progress.

Landsdowne Labs CEO Melissa Fensterstock said her company is developing a coating designed to prevent children from getting burned if the battery is swallowed.

“We are developing safer batteries,” she said. “We are working on this issue with the ingestion of button batteries.”

A button cell battery (or coin cell) is a small, single cell battery commonly found in consumer products such as toys, watches, and hearing aids.

According to a release from the office of Senator Richard Blumenthal, the battery is the subject of legislation recently passed by the US Senate. On Monday, senators met with doctors from the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and the mother of a child who survived swallowing a button battery to celebrate the passage of the Lease Act, which is now awaiting President Joe Biden’s signature.

The goal of the legislation, defended by Blumenthal, is to strengthen safety standards for battery packaging and products that use small batteries frequently found in everyday items. Named after 18-month-old Reese, his hamsmith from Texas, who died after swallowing a remote control button battery.

“This law protects children from these tiny button and coin batteries found in common household items such as cameras, calculators, battery-powered candles, blinking apparel, and even greeting cards,” the release said. “Swallowing these batteries can pose a serious danger to young children and young children and can result in serious injury, severe internal burns, or even death.”

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that between 1997 and 2010, 40,400 children under the age of 13 were hospitalized for injuries related to swallowing batteries. Although hospitalized, 3,900 people were hospitalized and 14 died from battery ingestion. More than half of the batteries ingested were button batteries.

Landsdowne Labs has been working on the problem of children ingesting button batteries for more than a decade, according to Fensterstock. It started at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was co-founded by Robert Langer, who also co-founded Moderna.

“We definitely have the product on hand,” she said. “It’s not yet launched or available on the market, but it’s getting closer.”

Fensterstock says most children are injured by these batteries lodging in their esophagus, where an electric current forms between the ends of the battery. could rise to dangerous levels, he said.

“Our solution is to basically deactivate that reaction,” she said. No chemical reaction should occur.”

Fensterstock says Landsdowne’s patent-pending technology uses niobium, a mineral found in the earth’s crust, that deactivates the battery as soon as it gets wet in the esophagus, stomach, or intestinal tract, thus preventing electrochemical burns. helps prevent

The company is now working to scale up production, Fensterstock said, adding that it already makes thousands of batteries, but actually needs millions more.

“We are optimizing our manufacturing process and supply chain,” she said. “The next step is for me to place an order, and we’re really close to that.”

Fensterstock then said the product could end up in the hands of consumers and product manufacturers. She said Landsdowne already has a number of companies interested in buying their products, from medical device companies to toy companies.

Fensterstock said the battery and electronics industry needs solutions to problems that deal directly with batteries.

“Making the device harder to open is definitely a step in the right direction. Putting more warning labels is definitely a step in the right direction,” she said. Injuries and deaths will continue to occur until the level has dealt with the danger.”