Some of the world’s biggest airlines now carry a revolutionary new device which can deal with fires in electronic gadgets on board planes. 

And now it is hoped that European airlines will no follow suit to help make flying safer. 

AvSax are now on board several major US carriers.

Planes carrying 100 passengers could have around 500 lithium ion batteries on board when you tot up all the laptops, cameras, e-readers, tablet computers and mobile phones … and they pose a potential fire danger.

All are powered by rechargeable lithium ion batteries but there is always a possibility that poor quality or damaged batteries can overheat, causing the device to catch fire.

This is known as thermal runaway, a rapid, uncontrolled chemical reaction within the battery that causes the internal temperature to rise. When one cell in a battery overheats it can produce enough heat - up to 900°C (1652°F) - to cause adjacent cells to overheat. This can cause a lithium battery fire to flare repeatedly.

Research shows there are 1,233 commercial airline companies worldwide and they operate 24,829 planes every day. The number of electronic gadgets in the air at any one time is mind boggling ... and things can go wrong.

The AvSax is a special fire-retardant bag used when lithium ion batteries in mobile phones or other electronic devices catch fire and has been deployed on planes several times already this year.

Simply pour at least two litres of water into an AvSax and then drop the burning device into the bag. The water activates the polymer gel inside the bag causing it to expand around the device. Should the device keep on venting then the AvSax is tough enough to absorb the force.

In short, the AvSax cools the batteries in the device, reducing the likelihood of the battery catching fire but if it does go into what is called thermal runaway and flares up it is all contained within the bag.

AvSax are made by Environmental Defence Systems Ltd based in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, and the same company also makes a ‘sandless sandbag’ called a FloodSax.

Aquasorb, importer for FloodSax in Belgium, has now become the first of EDS’ european distributers to supply AvSax into the Belguim market. 

Aquasorb manager Adel Oueslati will focus on supplying Avsax to the airline industry, battery recycling companies, distributors and other outlets. 

EDS managing director Richard Bailey said: “Delta and others have shown the way forward. All aircraft carry lifejackets as a matter of course yet the AvSax is far more likely to be deployed. 

“We have seen several incidents already this year where electronic devices carried by passengers have caught fire due to a problem with their lithium ion batteries on board planes and it is vital that all aircraft carriers now have something in place to deal with this ever increasing problem. 

“It can be challenging and frightening if a device suddenly catches fire in the confines of an aircraft cabin. AvSax deals with the problem quickly and effectively.”