8 Ways to Avoid Fire and Explosion in Lithium-ion Batteries

Using lithium-ion batteries safely

Using lithium-ion batteries safely


Thermal stability and internal short circuits of lithium-ion batteries can lead to overheating and even explosion. This article highlights 8 ways to help prevent fire and explosions when using lithium-ion batteries in commercial and industrial environments.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

What causes safety issues in lithium-ion batteries?

Lithium-ion batteries offer many positive benefits to product innovation. However, there are hazards associated with their use which are normally caused by:

  • poor design
  • use of low-quality materials
  • incorrect assembly
  • damage

How to minimise the risks of fire and explosion in lithium-ion batteries?

1. Install sprinkler protection

Ensure your facility is equipped with suitable sprinklers. Large-scale testing has shown that lithium-ion batteries behave similarly to unexpanded plastic commodities in a fire.

2. Store at the correct temperature

When storing lithium-ion batteries for longer periods, they should be stored at temperatures between 4-27°C.

3. Don’t store fully-charged batteries for long periods

Ensure any lithium-ion batteries in storage for longer periods are charged at levels below 50 per cent charge capacity, to minimise the risk of thermal runaway from manufacturing defects or internal failures. Fully charged lithium-ion batteries have a higher energy density so are at greater risk of generating significant heat from short circuiting caused by internal defects.

4. Charge lithium-ion batteries in a safe area

Charging lithium-ion batteries is usually safe but you need to take precautions such as setting charging stations on a firm, non-combustible surface. For larger format batteries, such as those used in mobile equipment, battery chargers and batteries being charged should be separated from other combustible contents by at least one metre. To charge small format batteries safely, you need to ensure that the stations are separated from other combustible materials by a minimum of 30 centimetres.

5. Cover battery terminals before disposing of batteries

It’s important that you cover battery terminals with insulating material, before disposing of damaged or discarded lithium-ion batteries. This will help prevent the terminals coming into contact with metal or other battery contacts that could close the battery circuit and result in an unintended energy discharge.

6. Place battery bins at least 3m from other storage areas

You should situate bins holding damaged or discarded batteries at least three metres from all other storage areas, as well as bins holding other potentially combustible materials. This helps to reduce the risk of fire spreading that might originate from discarded or waste batteries.

7. Use metal bins for batteries

Bins used for the disposal of lithium-ion batteries should be metal and have metal lids, if practical.

8. Never use potentially damaged batteries

External evidence of damage could indicate potentially dangerous issues with internal components and mechanisms. If you drop a battery on a hard surface or subject it to a severe external force, it is highly susceptible to internal physical or mechanical damage. All damaged batteries should be safely disposed of in bins intended solely for damaged batteries.

By taking these simple precautions, you should be able to reduce the risk of fire and explosion in lithium-ion batteries. As we learn more about the risks associated with the use, bulk storage and recycling of lithium-ion batteries, there will be changes in standards and best practices too.

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