Medical Centre – Commercial Case Study using SoNick batteries

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.

A space was identified under the stairwell as the only realistic place to house the batteries and inverters. This limited the type of battery storage due to both space and safety requirements. Continue reading “Medical Centre – Commercial Case Study using SoNick batteries”

Problems and Solutions solved with energy storage

One of the biggest problems with the efforts to use renewable energy to produce large amounts of the energy consumed on a daily basis has been its inability to reliably supply power at the times it is most needed. This can and will be addressed with the installation of battery systems that allow households, businesses and energy network providers to store renewable energy for use at night or in peak periods.

Solar panels convert the sun’s rays into electricity during the day with maximum generation being between the hours of 11 to 3pm. Unfortunately, for most people unless you are home during the day 80% of this power gets fed back into the grid for very little return. Likewise, although energy generation through wind is now very efficient and cost effective the times when wind produces energy can be intermittent.

Batteries also reduce the amount of electricity that is exported to the grid from rooftop solar during the middle of the day. This has the capacity to significantly reduce variability and stabilise grid supply. Continue reading “Problems and Solutions solved with energy storage”

NASA robot catches fire

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.

A number of attempts were made to put out the fire but eventually the robot was wheeled outside and allowed to burn itself out.
Continue reading “NASA robot catches fire”

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”

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 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”

Comparing battery technologies

Until recently lead acid batteries have been the major player in the energy storage industry, particularly for off grid installations but they have serious limitations in terms of requiring customer maintenance and of course they are made from toxic materials.

Recently, Tesla’s lithium ion batteries have received a lot of attention due to their advertised low price and excellent marketing, however the lithium ion batteries are now receiving attention due to their fire risk on the release of embodied energy. Lithium ion batteries have a smaller operating range than most other batteries and won’t operate efficiently above 35 – 40°C. Also, lithium is a toxic material and is in limited supply and at this stage can’t be recycled effectively.

There are some new technologies coming onto the market, such as Redflow’s zinc bromide, Aquion’s sodium ion salt water batteries, improved lead acid and many variations of lithium battery. These each have advantages and disadvantages, both in terms of performance and size.
Depth of Discharge (DOD)

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Lithium-ion battery storage may be banned inside Australian homes

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.tesla powerwall 2

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.

Standards Australia, a voluntary body that draws on expertise from the industries involved and key stakeholders, is expected to release the draft guidelines in the next week or so. But news of its proposals has already leaked, causing concern that the decision could bring the industry to a halt. Continue reading “Lithium-ion battery storage may be banned inside Australian homes”