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”→
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”→
There are many things to take into account when looking at an energy storage battery for your home or business. These include safety, performance, operating temperature as well as recyclability and environmental impact.
Unfortunately many people only look at the initial purchase cost of batteries and this is what they use to compare different batteries. This doesn’t take into account what a battery may cost them over its lifetime or the cost to the environment of both the battery’s manufacture and end of life disposal. To make a realistic comparison of a battery’s cost you need to consider its full “cradle to grave” impact on all areas, including its safety during operation and its environmental impact. Continue reading “Cheaper battery prices can have unforseen consequences”→
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. Continue reading “Battery safety”→
Lithium-ion battery storage devices – including Tesla Powerwalls and other products – may be effectively banned from being installed inside homes and garages in Australia under new guidelines being drafted by Standards Australia.
The move, if upheld, is likely to send shockwaves through the industry, with thousands of Australian households, including prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, already installing lithium ion battery storage devices and millions more predicted to do so in coming years.
Very interesting article from Ecogeneration based on CSIRO report that raises many of the questions about the lack of standards in the battery storage industry that we have been talking about. The lack of standards, particularly around fire risks of lithium ion batteries means safety can become a serious issue. It is definitely an issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
Worldwide, the use of energy storage from renewable sources is rising, as more countries commit to renewable energy targets and attempt to reduce costs. As an example, Australia has experienced remarkable growth in installations of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels in recent years. Energy storage technologies are the next logical step; once they are sufficiently available at the right price point, they are likely to have a similar market penetration to solar PV.
The present lag in scientific understanding of battery energy storage systems at the domestic and small commercial level is contributing to a clear gap in policy development for battery storage best practices. The difference in pace between the development of standards versus the technology is likely to be a significant policy issue on a global scale. Continue reading “Are batteries guilty as charged?”→