Battery Fire!

04 May 2023

When the catastrophe is pre-programmed,
and everyone should know about it ...

First, the good news:

The EU has not only recognized that batteries are subject to extreme wear and tear due to incorrect handling and that they pose serious environmental risk as eventual hazardous waste, but also that numerous accidents might have been avoided over the past years and decades if a stop had been put to the thoughtless and unregulated handling of these energy storage devices. This is now to change, and the EU is pushing the pace.

It’s something we’ve covered before: to the article -> click here <-

To summarize briefly: we can say that the EU has determined in a study that battery consumption in the near future will increase 19-fold, and - who would have thought it - neither the infrastructure for the production of batteries nor for the production and storage of the necessary raw materials of said batteries are really available...and someplace will need to be found for the waste that is created by mass, unregulated use.

The study came to the conclusion that a "battery management system" would make a serious contribution to sustainability…but the knock-on safety implications of such a requirement are perhaps even more telling!

Battery management systems will be mandatory from 2026. Not only because of sustainability, but also to minimize potential hazards:

With the ever-increasing number of batteries in emergency power supplies to make the devices more efficient, the number of accidents related to batteries is also steadily increasing.

1.   Fire-Hazardous Lithium

According to the "sanctuaries of green thiking," lithium is very high on the list for batery manufacturers because it promises extemely high energy density. Left unsaid is that lithium batteries operated without active battery management are an explosive matter.  Just a few days ago - on March 7, 2023 - an e-bike owner in New York painfully learned that even a mini-lithium battery on a bicycle can lead to catastrophic fires.

Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh commented as follows:

“There is extraordinary damage. This entire building behind me is completely destroyed. The roof is caved in. There is nothing left. It’s all because of this one single e-bike.“

Even if the cause is not yet officially declared, the fire that a lithium battery can cause and the explosion damage that can occur are certainly underestimated. In automotive technology, however, there is no way around these high-performance batteries - but here a fire on the vehicle is much less critical than if the fire occurs in one's own house or even data center: With a burning car, you simply get out and walk away - with a burning data center, there is hardly any way to get the source of the fire "outside"…

2.   Mindless Use of Batteries

This case from March 10, 2021 shows that a fire in a data center has a completely different "quality": A fire in a Strasbourg data center caused damage worth billions.

For a long time it was unclear as to what led to this disastrous fire, but now the official fire report has been published and shows how little the risk of energy storage systems is known in the industry: the UPS and at the same time the battery bank were identified as the cause of the fire.

On the question of how a fault in the batteries could lead to a fire without being detected, the operator stated that he "adheres to the data sheet of the battery manufacturer and assumes an appropriate service life". If you go by this, the Titanic should have sunk after the projected service life of 30 years!

There was no battery monitoring system on the premises, and the fire report logically ends with the recommendation to install a BMS to detect disastrous developments.

This recommendation of the fire experts is in perfect keeping with the demand for implementation made by the EU Directive : From 2026 the use of battery management systems will be mandatory in the EU!

This should be one more "wake-up call" for our customers - millions of installations in Europe do not have a BMS, and a frightening segment of operators do not even know how dangerous it can be to ignore this EU directive!