Child Safe Battery

Preventing Button Cell Ingestion

A Victoria University of Wellington Researcher has developed a system to prevent small children from swallowing button-cell batteries, a dangerous and sadly frequent occurrence

Innovation overview


The child incident rate for button cell batteries has increased 6.7 fold over the last 10 years. The swallowed battery typically gets lodged in the oesophagus (as seen in the x-ray). In this location it reacts with body fluids completing a circuit which results in the production of hydroxide. The local build-up of this caustic chemical can cause tissue necrosis, serious throat damage, and death.


The key strategies to mitigate the risks associated with button battery ingestions include: deterring and early detection, time is critical and the symptoms are non-specific. The innovation describes a saliva soluble battery coating with an embittering compound to dissuade ingestion, and/or an emetic compound to trigger vomiting, which may expel the battery or at least alert the child's carer to the issue.


Stop Infant Battery Mortality
Compound triggers pungent taste/emesis making infants expel battery rather than swallow it
The compound is formulated of non toxic alkaloids and innoxious bitterants. Unpleasant, but completely safe to consume!
Low Cost
Novel method minimizes the cost of integrating this safety mechanism into existing battery manufacturing methods


Safety Feature for Button Cell Batteries
This technology is an innovative and low cost safety mechanism for button cell batteries which are extremely dangerous to infants. The system could also create a distinct sales advantage as no battery manufacturers are making child safe batteries today
Aftermarket Application
The innovative compound can be incorporated into a pen type applicator, allowing parents and caregivers to make unprotected batteries, or other small objects with a choking risk, safe.

Button cell with embittering/emetic compound ring

Technology Diagram

Research leader

Jeongbin Ok

Jeongbin Ok is a lecturer in Industrial Design at Victoria University's School of Design. Originally trained as a chemical engineer, Jeongbin also gained a Masters in Industrial Design, following his strong belief that design is the crucial for using technology effectively and sustainably to solve real-world problems. With research interests ranging from 3D printing materials to health and safety ...

Contact person

Liam Sutton

Liam joined the Viclink team as an Assistant Commercialisation Manager on 1 April 2016. Although he only recently graduated from Victoria with a Bachelor of Architecture, Liam is no stranger to commercialisation, having started up his own business at the 2015-2016 Victoria Entrepreneur Bootcamp. Responsible for developing and formalising processes that will make the innovation pipeline more effici...

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