By Matthew Henry

RALEIGH, USA: The owner of the IBM personal computers brand, Lenovo, has become the latest PC maker to recall faulty Sony lithium-ion batteries with the company today announcing 526,000 batteries sold in its ThinkPad notebooks will be recalled for fears of overheating.

The recall follows an incident two weeks ago when a passenger boarding an aircraft at Los Angeles International Airport reportedly found his ThinkPad T43 smoking and sparking in a carry-on bag.

Lenovo joins Dell and Apple as the latest manufacturer affected by defective batteries manufactured by Sony Corporation.

Lenovo said Sony will support the recall financially.

IBM notebooks included in the recall were sold between February 2005 and September 2006, including the ThinkPad R Series (R51e, R52, R60, R60e), ThinkPad T Series (T43, T43p, T60) and ThinkPad X Series (X60, X60s).

“Additionally, since these batteries can also be used with ThinkPad T4x Series or ThinkPad R5x Series systems, customers who ordered an extra battery or received a replacement battery for any ThinkPad T4x or ThinkPad R5x Series notebook PC between February 2005 and September 2006 may also have a battery subject to recall,” said the company on its Australian website.

Lenovo will offer consumers replacement batteries free of charge and has provided an online system at its website for consumers to check if their battery is on the recall list.

With over two billion lithium batteries manufactured every year for consumer electronics devices, there are mounting concerns about the safety of lithium-ion battery technology.

This latest chapter in the Sony battery recall saga has prompted industry representatives from the Potable Rechargeable Battery Association (PRBA) to release a statement defending the technology against the wave of bad press.

“The lithium-ion batteries that power the consumer electronics revolution are a fundamentally safe technology,” said the PRBA.

“The recent recalls of certain lithium-ion batteries address a very rare problem. The vast majority of batteries being recalled are safe. Lenovo and Sony are exercising extreme caution.

“Only a tiny fraction of the recalled batteries pose a problem because lithium-ion batteries incorporate several redundant protective mechanisms.”

But the safety concerns have not been restricted to Sony alone. Earlier this month fellow Japanese manufacturing giant, Matsushita Corporation – the maker of the Panasonic brand – was forced to recall 6,000 of its own notebook batteries sold in Japan.

However, this number pales in comparison to the extent of the global Sony battery recall, which has now touched over six million consumers worldwide including 4.1 million Dell notebook owners and 1.8 million Apple iBook and PowerBook G4 owners.