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Lithium batteries: measures to prevent damage
Storing lithium-ion batteries often presents companies with a dilemma. They are generally obliged under §5 ArbSchG to assess hazards in the workplace and to address them with suitable protective measures. However, there are currently no legal regulations which we can turn to which specifically deal with lithium energy storage devices. So it is up to the company itself to determine and implement suitable measures. In addition, due to the large number of different battery types, it is not currently possible to determine general protective measures and designs which will be universally applicable. Each individual case must therefore be looked at separately. It is advisable to cooperate with the fire service, insurers and approval bodies to create a unified safety concept for your individual storage situation. As experts in hazardous materials storage, we are also happy to help. Just get in touch! Here you will find a number of sources of information from which you can obtain additional advice on the safe storage of lithium-ion batteries.
The manufacturer will give you general information on the safe handling and storage of its products - for example, on the optimum operating and storage temperatures. These specifications, which you will usually find in the operator's instructions and/or safety data sheets, should be observed at all costs. Manufacturers are also obliged under Section 18(2) BattG to provide information on the substances contained in their products and their effects on the environment and human health. You can also draw conclusions for your risk assessment from this.
VdS technical note
A technical note published by the German Association of Insurers (VdS) gives notes on accident prevention for lithium-ion batteries in production and storage areas. Lithium energy storage devices are classified in three different performance classes according to the VdS recommendations: low performance, mid-range performance and high performance. Generally applicable and performance-class-specific safety regulations are given for their storage. The following infographic gives an overview.
With regard to the provision of lithium-ion batteries at production sites, the VdS points out that the daily requirement should be observed here, i.e. limiting the quantity provided to the necessary minimum. In addition, suitable fire extinguishing equipment should be provided.
Specialist media and publications
It is not only the daily press that deals with the safety aspects surrounding lithium energy storage. As the subject remains topical, specialist media also publish related articles time and again. We have researched and summarised the most common hints and tips for handling lithium batteries for you.
In general it is recommended that lithium energy storage devices are treated as hazardous substances and that their handling is arranged accordingly, e.g. a risk assessment is carried out to decide on suitable measures, specific safety instructions are produced and workers are trained in the correct ways of working with the hazardous media. Existing regulations such as the Hazardous substances regulation (GefStoffV), the Industrial safety regulation (BetrSichV) or TRGS 510 "Storage of hazardous substances in mobile containers" can provide suitable guidelines.
General safety instructions for the day-to-day handling of lithium-ion batteries can be summarized in a simplified manner under five points:
Avoid thermal stress
No contact with moisture
Use only suitable chargers
Caution on loading
Thermal loads can not only influence the service life, but also the safety of lithium-ion batteries. Do not expose the energy storage devices directly and permanently to high temperatures or heat sources. This includes direct sunlight. Prolonged exposure to cold should also be avoided, as this promotes deep discharge during use. If deeply discharged lithium energy storage devices are subsequently reconnected to a charger, a fire can also occur. Therefore, observe the operating and storage temperatures recommended by the manufacturer.
Contact with moisture (e.g. due to precipitation, condensation or water splashes) can cause the battery to short-circuit. Lithium energy storage devices should always be stored in a dry place and protected from moisture during transport and use.
One of the most common causes of battery fires, especially in the private sector, is the use of non-compatible chargers. These can, for example, have a higher voltage than required for the battery and thus destroy it. Only use chargers intended for use with your battery model.
In addition to the use of incorrect chargers, there are other risks during the charging process. Do not charge lithium batteries for a long time if they are not needed. Flammable objects in the vicinity are also not a good idea. If possible, place the battery on concrete or tiled floors during charging. If you want to store the batteries afterwards, we recommend a charge level (SoC) of approx. 30%. This reduces the amount of energy that can cause damage in an emergency. Caution: a certain minimum charge level should always be present to prevent deep discharge. Follow the manufacturer's instructions.
Mechanical damage can cause deformation of cells within the battery and lead to internal short circuits. Take care that lithium energy storage devices are not exposed to shocks, impacts or collisions. If something does happen, damaged batteries should never be used again, but should be removed immediately, stored separately until disposal and disposed of properly. As a precaution, you should also secure the terminals of damaged batteries, e.g. by means of terminal caps. Of course, lithium batteries should also not be disassembled, opened or crushed.
We are happy to advise you!
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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.