DENIOS AG
Dehmer Strasse 58-66
32549 Bad Oeynhausen
br>Tel.: +49 5731753-0
Email: info@denios.ie
Internet: www.denios.ie

Fire fighting for lithium battery fires

What should you do if there is a lithium fire? Lithium-ion battery fires are very difficult to fight. Extinguishing solutions using conventional inert materials are mostly unsuccessful, as lithium-ion cells produce the oxygen needed for the fire themselves. When selecting the appropriate extinguishing agent, the size and quantity of the batteries, and also the operational conditions play a role. Here are the various options.

Extinguishing with water

There are different views on the use of water as an extinguishing agent. Because lithium is very reactive, some people advise against bringing it into contact with water. However, recent research suggests that larger amounts of water are able to contain and effectively fight lithium fires. The explanation given here includes the cooling effect, which slows down the reaction of the cells. Large batteries, for example from burning electric cars, regularly present fire brigades with an enormous challenge, however. This can be explained by looking at the structure of a traction battery:

A large traction battery consists of many smaller cells that are connected together. If a single cell heats up, in the worst case in the middle of the module, the neighbouring cells will also inevitably heat up. This results in a chain reaction that leads to a considerably higher release of energy. If the chain reaction was triggered at the centre of the battery, it is almost impossible to reach it with an extinguishing agent, e.g. water, and thus stop or contain the reaction. If you now try to cool the module, the water only reaches the outer layers or the battery housing. The situation is different for smaller modules where fewer cells are used. Here, external cooling usually has a direct effect on the reacting cells.

In the summer of 2019, the VdS published leaflet 3856 "Sprinkler protection of lithium batteries". For the first time a differentiation was made by energy content per storage unit and the risk was classified according to the following table:

Hazard Level (HL) Risk Energy content in kWh / storage unit
I Gering >1
II Mittel 1,0 - 50
III Hoch >50

The recommendation is to store a maximum of 50 kWh per storage unit (e.g. Euro pallet). This is equivalent to Hazard Level II. The sprinkler system must be designed in accordance with VdS CEA 4001. Tests by the American property insurer FM-Global and the German Insurance Association (GDV) have shown that the spread of lithium battery fires in high racks can be prevented by a targeted sprinkler system. However, the findings from the tests are only valid for small lithium batteries packed in cardboard boxes. The sprinkling of large battery units is nevertheless advisable, as although the fire is not usually extinguished at the individual battery, the spread to neighbouring batteries can be slowed, if not prevented.

However, a significantly higher amount of water is needed to fight the fire than in conventional fires. In order to accelerate success and, if necessary, to reduce the amount of water required as well, various additives can be added to the extinguishing water. If there is a reaction, there is a risk of hazardous substances such as hydrochloric or hydrofluoric acids being released from inside the cell. This may appear in the form of vapour for example, which could injure workers through skin contact or inhalation. When a fire is extinguished the extinguishing water can dilute the acids, they can seep into the ground (if there is no suitable containment device) and cause environmental damage.

Aerosol extinguishing technology

Another extinguishing possibility for lithium fires is aerosol extinguishing technology. This is a permanently operational technical system that is used to suppress the fire until the fire brigade arrives to finally extinguish the fire. The extinguishing technology operates according to EN 15276-10, without addition of water. The extinguishing generator effectively interrupts the chemical combustion process within 4.5 to 15 seconds (depending on model) when the temperature rises. This technology is environmentally friendly and human-compatible (not harmful to health, does not displace oxygen). Among other things, it is listed as an official "HALON replacement extinguishing agent" by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S.EPA). Due to the low weight/installation volume and the fact that no piping is required, simple and quick installation is possible. Investment and follow-on costs also remain low, as aerosol extinguishing technology is maintenance-free and has a long product life.

Extinguishing granules

Extinguishing granules thermally insulate the battery. The extinguishing or insulation effect is immediately active and functions completely autonomously. A prerequisite, however, is that the batteries are surrounded by a sufficient quantity of granules. PyroBubbles® specialist extinguishing granules are ideal for fighting incipient fires – tested to DIN EN 3-7 by MPA Dresden for fires in classes A, B, D and F.

PyroBubbles® consist mainly of silicon oxide with an average grain size of 0.5 to 5 mm. At a temperature of approx. 1050°C they begin to melt and form an enclosed, thermally insulating layer around the seat of the fire. PyroBubbles® can be used universally: they are not only suitable as an extinguishing medium for fighting fires in compact energy storage devices, but are also ideal as a preventative filler for storage and transport. Suitable transport and storage boxes with UN approval are available in either metal or plastic.

Warning!

In general, it is important to assess the individual risks and hazards present in the company and to develop a suitable extinguishing and fire protection design in cooperation with experts and insurers.

We are happy to advise you!

Whether on the phone, via e-mail or in person at your premises - we are happy to help and advise you. Get in touch with us.

Free expert advice 01952 811 991

Related Content

Poster

Recognising and handling defective lithium batteries

With this free DENIOS poster, you can systematically check whether your lithium battery is showing concrete signs of a defect and add practical tips from experts to your action plan for defective lithium batteries.

Read more
Selection aid

Storage and Transport Boxes for Lithium Batteries

This free DENIOS selection guide gives you a compact overview of the most important criteria when selecting a transport or storage box for lithium batteries, the products available in the DENIOS range and how they differ in terms of functionality, possible uses and approvals.

Read more
Brochure

Storing and testing Lithium batteries

This free DENIOS brochure contains detailed information on our variety of products for the safe handling of lithium batteries, our service and maintenance options for your fire protection room for lithium batteries and our practical consulting and information.

Read more
Article

Why do I need special storage for lithium-ion batteries?

A guide to what you really need to know when assessing and purchasing safe storage and charging systems for lithium-ion batteries. We cover why you need special, safe storage for lithium-ion batteries; what can cause lithium-ion battery fires; what you can do to protect your staff and business if you handle, charge and store lithium-ion batteries; and safer solutions for your storage and charging needs with lithium-ion batteries.

Read more
Article

Charging lithium batteries: Do you know your duty of care?

Find out which duties of care are critical for you to observe when charging lithium batteries in order to increase safety in your business and avoid unnecessary complications in the event of an insurance claim.

Read more
Article

Pioneers of Green Mobility rely on safety products from DENIOS

Many DENIOS customers are at the cutting edge of technical developments for the green transport revolution. They are pioneering tomorrow's transport - on road, rail, water and in the air. We work closely with them by providing the latest safety technology solutions. Find out how we are doing this!

Read more
Load more items 6 of 17 articles were loaded
i

The specialist information on this page has been compiled carefully and to the best of our knowledge and belief. Nevertheless, DENIOS AG cannot assume any warranty or liability of any kind, whether in contract, tort or otherwise, for the topicality, completeness and correctness either towards the reader or towards third parties. The use of the information and content for your own or third party purposes is therefore at your own risk. In any case, please observe the locally and currently applicable legislation.

Menu
Log in
Your basketAdded to basket
Go to basket
We would be pleased to provide you with advice!

Give us a call or fill out the form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Mon - Thu: 08:30 - 17:00 | Fri: 08:30 - 16:00
i

Calls are handled by our UK team. All sales are processed via our German parent company so are VAT* / tariff free where applicable. *Must be fully IE VAT registered