8 Ways To Avoid Fire and Explosion in Lithium-Ion Batteries

8 Ways To Avoid Fire and Explosion in Lithium-Ion Batteries

Helpful tips on using lithium-ion batteries safely

Helpful tips on using lithium-ion batteries safely

Guidance on storage, discarding, and handling lithium-ion batteries to reduce fire risks

Lithium-ion batteries offer many positive benefits, but they are a significant and growing fire hazard. Overcharging, short circuits and damage can lead to overheating, explosions, and fires. Here are 8 ways to help prevent fire and explosions when using lithium-ion batteries in commercial and industrial environments.

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 approximately 40-80°F.

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 30% charge capacity, to minimize the risk of thermal runaway from damage, 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 three feet. To charge small format batteries safely, you need to ensure that the stations are separated from other combustible materials by a minimum of one foot.

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 from contacting metal or other battery contacts that could close the battery circuit and result in an unintended energy discharge.

6. Place Battery Bins At Least 10 Feet From Other Storage Areas

Place bins holding damaged or discarded batteries at least 10 feet from all other storage areas, as well as bins holding other potentially combustible materials. This helps 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.

Interested in assessing your lithium-ion battery fire risks? Our engineers can uncover hidden risks of explosion and identify potential thermal runaway, and help you develop a fire emergency response plan. Contact us today for a conversation.


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