One of the most common causes of Lithium Battery Mishap is Thermal Runaway.
Lithium-ion battery technology has come a long way since its inception in the 1970s and its initial commercial launch by Sony in 1991. Lithium batteries are now used in practically every new device that requires external power assistance, from smartphones to electric cars to even the International Space Station. The great energy density and efficiency that make Lithium-ion the popular choice today can, however, backfire if manufacturing or safety checks are inadequate.
While a well-made battery will be as safe as it needs to be, mishaps can and do occur.
Low-quality components are still one of the leading causes of battery failure, but manufacturing flaws can also cause battery failure and preventable accidents.
In some cases, avoidable scenarios such as keeping the battery too close to a heat source or a fire can cause it to explode. Penetrating the battery, whether on purpose or by mistake, would result in a short-circuit and, eventually, a fire. Even high-voltage charging and draining might harm the battery. Chargers that aren’t properly insulated or that aren’t suggested can also harm the device.
Preventing fires is important since Lithium batteries easily catch fire and are tough to put out. When water reacts with lithium, it just makes things worse. It doesn’t extinguish lithium flames.
So, here’s a list of some of the most dangerous Lithium Battery Mistakes, whether they occurred in factories, gadgets, or storage facilities. Our only objective in listing all those mishaps is to help you better understand the importance of maintaining the highest level of safety and effective management of lithium batteries.
As lithium batteries become more widely used, it’s important to remember that proper handling is the first priority.
Illinois Warehouse: Lithium Battery Mishap
In Morris, Illinois, one of the largest Li-ion Battery Mistakes in history occurred. It affected the entire east side of a 13,000-person town, a 900-block radius with approximately 4,000 individuals.
Approximately 200,000 pounds of batteries, the majority of which were lithium, were stored in an abandoned Federal Paper Board building. Nearly 50,000 of those were lithium batteries that were damaged, faulty, or recalled. Superior Battery was in charge of keeping the batteries in the warehouse. The corporation did not seek approval, and no one was aware of the quantities of hazardous materials on hand. Furthermore, the warehouse was not designed for this type of storage.
Firefighters used water to put out a Lithium battery fire due to a lack of knowledge, which backfired and resulted in a terrible outcome. Thermal runaway took place in the batteries.
Although the exact cause of the accident is unknown, it was raining on June 29 and it is suspected that a faulty roof spilled water onto some exposed batteries, producing a thermal event. For a few days, this continued. The batteries flared up on and off for the next 28 days, even after the damage had been mitigated.
Meltdowns at Vistra Energy Storage Facility, California
On the evening of February 13, 2022, the world’s largest lithium-ion battery melted down happened.
The 300-megawatt facility fell offline for the second time in five months owing to battery troubles. The first event occurred in September 2021, less than a year after the company was founded. Around 7% (7,000) of the 100,000 battery modules at the factory were damaged. The disaster was caused by the company’s own poor fire management software. Low smoke levels were detected, and the heat suppression system was activated. Water was apparently sprayed straight on a number of battery racks due to an irregularity. As a result of the overheating, there was more smoke, which led to more water being sprayed, and so on.
According to sources, the February 2022 meltdown was simply a repeat of the September issue with a tiny number of couplings on flexible hoses and pipes failing, spraying water on some battery racks. Ten battery packs at the facility allegedly melted.
Beijing Lithium Battery Mishap
Two firefighters died as a result of the incident in Beijing. A 25 MWh Lithium-ion phosphate battery system attached to a 1.4 MW photovoltaic array at Beijing Gotion Full-Service, a public electric vehicle charging station, caught fire on April 16, 2021.
The fire was put out with the help of 47 fire vehicles and 235 firefighters from 15 local fire departments. In the early hours of the next morning, there was a huge explosion. This resulted in the deaths of two firefighters and the injury of one. The quick explosion may have been caused by a safety accident induction mechanism, which is the thermal failure of the batteries in extreme conditions, according to a later report.
It was impossible to determine what caused the fire. Cell quality, battery management, electrical topology, external dust storms, and even wire placement, according to Beijing Fire Station records, could be the cause of the fire.
Arizona Lithium Battery Mishap
In April of this year, a lithium-ion battery fire at the Arizona Public Service (APS) power company resulted in the deaths of numerous firefighters. When a big battery used to power a Surprise neighborhood failed and started smoking, firemen didn’t have a strategy in place to deal with the situation. It resulted in an explosion, injuring a number of first responders.
A defective battery cell shorted out at 5 p.m. From floor to ceiling, the little structure was crammed with battery units. The malfunctioning battery cell overheated, causing damage to adjacent modules. This was another incidence of thermal runaway, similar to past Li-ion battery mishaps. The batteries continued to overheat despite the fire suppression system being turned off, but there were no flames.
According to the research, there were no barriers between battery modules to prevent one overheating module from spreading to the next and causing a cascading effect.
As a result, combustible vapors accumulated throughout the structure. When the firefighters finally opened the door and entered, the vapours burst.
While there could have been multiple causes for the explosion, the lack of a “Lithium mishap mitigation plan” was to blame for the firefighters’ injuries. About two hours after arriving on the scene, firemen unlocked a door on the facility, and it detonated two minutes later. Along with the eight firefighters, one police officer was seriously hurt and sent to the hospital.
Tesla Megapack fire in Australia
Two Tesla battery units at a massive energy storage project in Australia caught fire due to a coolant leak that went undetected during start-up tests.
On July 30, the fire was initially discovered. One Megapack emitted smoke, which quickly turned into flames that took several hours to extinguish. It took three days for the fire department to deem the place safe.
The battery unit caught fire due to short circuits in two places. Megapack was turned off after the initial testing. Short circuits happened at that point. Fault protection was no longer available. As a result, the problem went unnoticed, and the fire spread to a nearby battery compartment.
All these mishaps were the result of two common things, first is the lack of maintenance of not just the battery but the place where it is stored. And second is the lack of knowledge about how to stop a Lithium fire.
Due to a lack of knowledge, the firefighters use water to stop the fire and we all know that water and lithium do not go hand-in-hand.
Note: The content of this article is taken from Saurenergy