Battery safety

 

There is a lack of knowledge on the variety of energy storage technologies, and thus on how to care for and operate them in a safe manner in the domestic and small commercial scale context.

Although battery storage is a low-risk technology, it is important that systems are installed and maintained by an accredited installer, and that industry best practice is developed.

The Australian public has a low awareness of battery storage technologies and the industry faces the potential risk of a serious incident occurring. The CSIRO recommends that further research urgently addresses the global and national need for standards relating to domestic energy applications. The standards should consider whole-of-life practices, including disposal and recycling, particularly for emerging technologies such as lithium-ion battery storage systems. Greater consensus is also required on safety recommendations for different technologies

Emergency response teams (fire brigade, police an d ambulance) have limited education about the issues related to energy storage technology in the event of an incident. Relevant safety signage needs to be on display and the response team needs to take into account the location of the battery system and the technology involved.

There is currently no consensus on the appropriate method of extinguishing a lithium ion battery storage fire in the event of an incident. There are many suggestions for extinguishing a lithium ion battery fire, each has advantages and disadvantages and many are not suitable for larger lithium energy storage batteries that are now being installed in houses. Research needs to be done on a method for dealing with such an incident.

Battery storage systems can contain heavy or toxic metals that can be harmful to the environment if in the event of a fire or if disposed of in a landfill. Consumers, designers and installers should be aware of and consider whole-of-life recycling practices. Battery storage systems can contain heavy or toxic metals such as nickel, cobalt, cadmium and lead, which can be harmful to the environment especially if disposed of in landfill. In Australia, used rechargeable battery systems are classified as either a hazardous waste or a dangerous good, which means that they can create environmental (and safety) risks if disposed of incorrectly.

Other issues with new energy storage technologies are lack of accreditation and training; lack of available and accessible information and low general knowledge about battery technologies; lack of commonly accepted safety procedures, including how to extinguish a lithium fire, and; unclear standards for some aspects of installation, maintenance, recycling and disposal.

More information on the CEC and CSIRO’s recommendations is available in their storage-safety-performance-study-report available from the CEC website.

Further issues with the energy storage industry when considering fire risk are the fact that solar and batteries may be installed in a stand alone or off grid situation and as such it may not be clear to emergency services that there is still power to the premises even when power to the property has been turned off. This can create significant risks to fire personnel as lithium ion batteries in particular can explode when water is put on them, even if the battery itself isn’t the cause of a house fire.

GridEdge’s SoNick battery is completely safe as it is made from non-flammable salt and it is non explosive so there is no possibility of thermal runaway like there is with many lithium based batteries. The SoNick battery non-toxic and is is 100% recyclable and all parts of the battery are accounted for in its recycling program.

 

If you would like to know more about getting safe, reliable, recyclable, SoNick (molten salt) battery storage for your own home, business or micro-grid application visit us at http://quantum.GridEdge.com.au

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