People install battery systems for many reasons and likewise people choose battery technologies for various reasons.
For many years people have used lead acid batteries as a known battery technology, particularly in off grid installations. A battery of choice has often been used Telecom batteries which are replaced regularly from telecom installations that need guaranteed UPS (uninterrupted power supply) capabilities. As these batteries are often sold at a vastly reduced cost it is economical for off-grid households to add a large number of batteries to an off-grid system to allow for reduced capacity of the batteries.
Unfortunately, for lead acid battery systems the battery system operates at the capacity of the weakest battery so you are unable to use new lead acid batteries in older systems and would need to replace the whole bank of batteries when more capacity is needed.
Lead acid batteries are well known for having a “falling off the cliff reputation” and degrading very suddenly and quickly, often with no warning. This happens particularly often in cold or hot weather. Coincidentally this is often when batteries are needed the most for heating and cooling. At the same time, most people who live off grid have learnt to manage their electricity usage to only use what is available and to use a generator when batteries are unavailable.
An installer recently contacted us to talk about the performance of a SoNick battery he had bought 8 years ago.
Originally it was purchased as part of a portable trailer system. The battery was utilised in this capacity for a number of years. It was used to supply power in power outages and at events, as well as being used as a showcase of the SoNick battery and what could be achieved in a portable power system.
*** Note: not all batteries are suitable for use in portable power systems due to the risk of damaging their cells due to trailer movements and due to the risk of fire in case of accident or cell damage.
Due to the intermittent use of this trailer, the battery was often left to go cold between uses then heated up again when needed.
If you’re serious about battery safety, one battery stands head and shoulders above all other battery technologies.
It’s the Sodium Nickel (SoNick) salt battery, manufactured by FZSoNick and distributed in Australia by GridEdge.
With increasing demands for battery safety standards, SoNick is a unique product that helps our partners stand out.
The SoNick battery technology was the first and still is one of very few that have UL9540A certification for safety, stating it will not go into thermal runaway, both on a cell and complete module basis. This means no risk of fire or explosion, even in the presence of external fire.
#SMC batteries perform outstandingly even in one of the hottest regions of the Earth! As part of a joint activity with the end user, 32 modules of SMC batteries (272kWh) installed outdoor in Saudi Arabia have been constantly monitored during the summer period. Background: 👉July 2020-December 2021: batteries remained at stock for 17 months before the installation (no refresh charge necessary). 👉December 2021: installed in an outdoor shelter without Air Conditioning and ventilation. 👉January 2022–today: monthly capacity tests were performed to check for any energy variation. FZSoNick Group are glad to share the excellent results achieved so far.
More and more people are recognising that one of the major
issues with energy storage batteries are the dangers with fires and explosions
particularly associated with thermal runaway (self-sustaining fires). This has
become particularly relevant as people are considering installing the many
lithium ion battery technologies in their houses or businesses and are becoming
aware of the possibility of the dangers associated with this.
Standards Australia has been working on new installation
standards “AS-NZ 5139_2019” which will try and address this issue but there is
still a lot of discussion around whether the new installation restrictions are
too strict or are really looking at individual battery characteristics
correctly and fairly.
International Standard “UL9540A” has been developed to independently examine Fire Risk with Battery Cells and Evaluate Thermal Runaway Fire Propagation in Battery Energy Storage Systems.
The medical centre was to be refurbished and part of the upgrade was to install a PV system with battery storage. The difficulty was allocating the space for battery storage that was safe for patients as well as staff. As is usual in a medical centre space is a premium and is used for medical related purposes as a priority.
On June 14, 2016, four researchers at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory were preparing to ship a waist-high, ape-like robot named RoboSimian off-site. The robot had been built to rescue people from dangerous situations that were to difficult for human rescuers. The scientists swapped one lithium-ion battery for a fresh one, then left for lunch to let the new power supply charge.
Unfortunately, the new lithium ion battery malfunctioned and went into thermal runaway. Luckily the researchers were no longer in close proximity to the robot so no-one was hurt, although NASA have said there have been a number of these close calls.
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.
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”→