Redflow welcomes safety-first fire rules for batteries

 

Just like GridEdge’s sodium nickel chloride battery technology Redflow’s flow battery is well suited to Australia’s varying weather conditions and doesn’t have the fire risks that lithium ion batteries do.

Along with GridEdge and many other non-lithium battery companies Australian battery company Redflow Limited (ASX:RFX) has welcomed proposed new regulations that prioritise fire safety for the deployment of lithium-based batteries inside homes. Continue reading “Redflow welcomes safety-first fire rules for batteries”

What is a Molten Salt Battery

Molten Salt Battery

When it comes to green energy, the intermittent nature of renewable sources like wind, solar, and tidal power presents a difficult problem for the electrical grid management. Peak energy production often doesn’t correlate well with peak energy demand, necessitating a means of storing excess energy when consumption is low. As renewable energy sources become more prevalent, and the need to curb fossil fuel emissions continues to increase, finding a new grid energy storage solution has never been more important. It is the final piece of technology required to bring about wide scale adoption of renewable energy sources like solar panels and wind turbines.

  • What is a Molten Salt Battery?

Molten salt batteries, especially liquid metal batteries, are increasingly gaining interest from the energy community as a grid energy storage solution for renewable energy sources. Combining high energy and power densities, long life times, and low cost materials, they have the potential to meet the unique demands of grid scale energy storage. A molten salt battery is a class of battery that uses a molten salts electrolyte. The components of molten salt batteries are solid at room temperature, allowing them to be stored inactive for long periods time. During activation, the cathode, anode and electrolyte layers separate due to their relative densities and immiscibility. The molten salt layer in the middle serves as an electrolyte with a high ionic conductivity, and is the medium through which the ionic species travel as the battery charges and discharges.

  • Advantages of Molten Salt Batteries

Continue reading “What is a Molten Salt Battery”

SoNick battery BMS or Battery Management System

Some Energy storage batteries have a built-in BMS or Battery Management or Monitoring System to monitor how a battery operates and how it talks to the grid. This is an electronic system that manages a batteries function by protecting the battery from operating outside its “Safe Operating Area” both for the batteries health and to prevent any accidents that the battery could cause by malfunctioning.

The internal BMS monitors and controls all charging and safety aspects of the battery. The BMS will also keep you informed of the state of the battery so you can monitor the batteries health.

When integrated with other SoNick batteries the SoNick BMS synchronises the operation of the battery bank so that all batteries work together as one large battery. Continue reading “SoNick battery BMS or Battery Management System”

Fire risk for solar and batteries

Victoria’s Metropolitan Fire Brigade says it may take “Years to understand’ the fire risk posed by lithium ion battery storage

 

The MFB said the solar installations were vulnerable to faults across their systems, including isolation switches, inverters and installed wiring, and from deteriorating components.

The alarming figures come as the solar battery storage industry pushes to kill new regulations that would force homeowners to build a separate “fire bunker” housing for battery installations.

Under draft rules released by Standards Australia, lithium ion batteries are classed as “Fire Class 1” and would not be allowed inside or within 1m of a domestic dwelling. The industry will have until August 15 to respond to the draft regulations.

The safety moves are designed to avoid a repeat of Labor’s insulation batts scheme in which the rapid rollout of roof insulation in 2009 led to more than 200 house fires across the nation, and ultimately four deaths. Continue reading “Fire risk for solar and batteries”

Battery Drawdown Capabilities

 

Energy storage batteries come in a variety of different sizes and weights and each have different characteristics.  Here is a comparison of some different battery technologies currently available in Australia with an indication of the amount of power that can be drawn down.

You can see from this image that size is not necessarily a good indication of the power that is available to be used from a battery. Some batteries have much better energy density than others.

Another thing to consider is how much power you can actually draw from the battery at any point in time. Our SoNick battery can draw 150 amps for 4 hours continuously but some other batteries are very limited in the amount of power that can be used, maybe only with enough to boil a kettle and little more. Continue reading “Battery Drawdown Capabilities”

Tindo Bus summary

The Tindo buses in Adelaide were the first solar powered all-electric buses in the world and the first prototype was commissioned by the Adelaide council in 2008. The Tindo buses first commenced operation on 11/2/2008 and had operated for 60,000 km by 2010. (Tindo is the Kaurna Aboriginal name for sun)

The first prototype bus was so successful that a further 2 all electric buses were commissioned in 2010. Both the buses and the FIAMM SoNick batteries have exceeded all expectations of performance.

Overall, when compared to other electric buses now in operation the Tindo bus has one of the most demanding schedules in the world.

One of the reasons the SoNick battery technology was chosen was due to its safety. The SoNick battery is non-combustible so there are no safety issues with possible explosion or fire on impact in the case of a bus crash as there can be with lithium ion batteries. Another consideration was that the batteries are fully recyclable and the cost of recycling is included in the battery price. The SoNick batteries are virtually maintenance free, very lightweight and operate efficiently, no matter what the ambient temperature is and have a longer expected life cycle than other battery technologies. Continue reading “Tindo Bus summary”

Battery Standards and Lithium battery fires

It is interesting that everyone is up in arms about the battery standards being introduced into Australia but maybe people should be asking why these standards are being brought in. It is not only government and coal company lobbying.

Yes, lithium ion batteries are currently cheaper and installing them in safer locations will add cost to installing them, however there are already safer battery technologies on the market that are being pushed out of the market due to the cheap cost of lithium ion batteries.

It is easy to say there is a low probability of your lithium ion battery catching fire, (and some lithium battery technologies are safer than others), but if it is your house that burns down or someone in your house that is injured you may be taking a different view on the safety standards.

The thing that is not being addressed here is that a fire doesn’t have to start in the battery due to a fault in the battery for the battery to catch fire; it can start in the vicinity of the battery and then move to the battery. The standards are designed to help the fire brigade protect your property and their members safety by limiting the dangers caused by battery fires that can’t be put out. Continue reading “Battery Standards and Lithium battery fires”

How will Climate Change affect Australia?

 

Across Australia, extreme weather events are projected to worsen as the climate warms further.

Extreme heat is projected to increase across the entire continent, with significant increases in the length, intensity and frequency of heatwaves in many regions.

The time spent in drought is projected to increase across Australia, especially in southern Australia. Continue reading “How will Climate Change affect Australia?”

Battery Recycling

One of the things that you should consider when putting battery storage on your home is whether or not the battery will be recyclable at the end of its life.
Recycling batteries at the end of their life has a number of benefits:

  • It enables the recovery and reuse of materials including lead, iron, plastics, aluminium, copper, lithium, cobalt and electrolyte
  • It diverts toxic and hazardous materials from landfill
  • It ensures that batteries are managed safely
  • There may be a financial return (depending on the battery type).

Often, one of the reasons that people put solar panels on their house and put in battery storage to collect the excess usage is to protect the environment and reduce the need for coal powered power stations. This can be counterproductive if you choose a battery that is made from toxic materials or has components that can’t be recycled at end of life of the battery.

When batteries go to landfill toxic substances can cause damage to the waste stream, waterways, humans and the general environment. This can be nickel, cadmium, lead or lithium ion.

Recycling of energy storage batteries is a current weakness in the industry for many battery technologies.

Continue reading “Battery Recycling”

How freezing temperatures affect batteries

 

 

Recent sub zero temperatures in Victoria have caused problems with liquid in solar panels and batteries freezing.

Plumbers and solar installers say they have struggled to keep up with unprecedented demand for help as temperatures plummet. Cold weather can cause water in solar panels to freeze and expand, resulting in snapped and split panels and broken frost valves. Naturally this problem is worse in cheaper products or products that aren’t installed properly to allow for temperature extremes.

We have also heard of several instances of batteries freezing as well. Most lead acid and lithium ion batteries only operate effectively between around 5 – 35 to 40 °C which is problematic on days when the temperature gets very cold or even is below freezing as we experienced in Melbourne recently. Continue reading “How freezing temperatures affect batteries”