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Old 07-11-2013, 08:50   #16
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Re: Lithium Batteries /vs/ Fire safety?

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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post


Throw water on it, and you'll just encourage it. You're still ignoring the question I put up front.
Really? And you know this because?




I'm not at all sure that's the chemistry I'll choose, when the choice is made. Or even that it will still be on the market. In case you haven't noticed, even that chemistry has been changed in the past few years, and the patent wars are ongoing.
So why not move on and stop the FUD?
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Old 07-11-2013, 09:07   #17
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Re: Lithium Batteries /vs/ Fire safety?

The information that I've found elsewhere online overnight indicates that "lithium" is a problem only in lithium primary batteries, where the metal is present in such quantities that it does indeed cause a "lithium fire" requiring exotic controls.

And that the problem with "lithium ion" (general term) rechargeable batteries is totally different. Here, the electrolyte is a flammable hydrocarbon, not water based, and the nature of the fire has nothing to do with the lithium (which is a finely dispersed ingredient) but rather the electrolyte is burning, like a pool of gasoline, and the separator membranes are easily combustible plastic. So with a lithium rechargeable battery, you are trying to stop a pool of liquid and plastic hydrocarbons, very much like trying to put out a fire starter log in a bowl of fuel.

Neither scenario is pleasant but there are reports that Halon 1211 will stop the combustion, if used in combination with a water deluge to bring the heat of the components down to prevent reignition. Without the deluge--the Halon will only put it out momentarily and then it will flash again. And again. And again.

The reports that the USN requires a special ClassD extinguisher for "lithium" fires contradict this, but maybe they are dealing with stockpiles of lithium primary cells ad it is the reports that are confusing, not the process.

In either case, apparently two of the embarrassing incidents involve prime manufacturers in Japan. Something like 4 million of those 18650 cells lost in one fire, two million in another, and in both cases the entire building burned down, the fire could not be controlled. This in plants that were built specifically to handle these cells.

Apparently the NFPA and other organizations including Sandia Labs are trying to study the issue (yeah, more experts who haven't quite figured it out yet, which says something about the extent of the problem) and they'd prefer some serious bucks so they can observe actual fires to figure out what will work on them, or not.

My "pry it from my cold dead fingers" Halon bottle is 1301 not 1211, but it is good to hear that a water quench actually will help, rather than exacerbate the problem. IIRC the initial response to the Dreamliner battery compartment fire took over 45 minutes to get it under control...so even that doesn't seem to be a simple answer.

And unless someone is making LiFePO4 batteries without plastic separators and without hydrocarbon electrolyte, that also means they are still a fire problem, when and if fire reaches them. (i.e. a fire starts elsewhere and hits the plastic case of the battery.) Apparently they are still considered HazMat under DOT and UN regulations, aren't they?

Dwayne-
FUD is what you get when someone says "lets move on" rather than exploring the issues and trying to get the facts sorted out. So you're right, stop the FUD and try making some contributions to the effort to find out what the facts are. As I'm trying to do. I note that you've made no effort to answer the question of what, whether, or if, any special attention to the risks of lithium rechargeable batteries is required.
Very similar to the way a number of shippers have ignored assorted lithium batteries and the regulations concerning shipping them, resulting in a number of documented fires that could have been easily avoided.
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Old 07-11-2013, 09:20   #18
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Re: Lithium Batteries /vs/ Fire safety?

The sort of large storage batteries used on a boat house bank are never going to be completely safe. There is a lot of energy contained in those plastic casings.

The gold standard (for boats) are Lead acid batteries. New technology need to be judged in relation to this standard.

My initial impression is that a LiFeP04 bank is safer than a flooded lead acid battery bank. It will need some more experience with these cells in the marine environment to be certain.
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Old 07-11-2013, 09:29   #19
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Re: Lithium Batteries /vs/ Fire safety?

One of the numbers I've seen thrown around, is that LiFePO4 batteries have only 60% of the energy density of Li-Cobalt and some other chemistries. So if I've got my math right, that would mean you'd need 100 pounds of LiFePO4 battery to do the same job that 60 pounds of li-cobalt battery does, and that would be a very good reason to, ah, "get the iron out!" and choose cobalt batteries in an aircraft, where every pound of dead weight consumes thousands and thousands of dollars in fuel very rapidly.

Or on a boat, it also means you'd need ten LiFePO4 batteries to replace six li-cobalt ones, and then, damn, there goes the space where the Jacuzzi used to be.

"never going to be completely safe."
I'm told that in ancient room, the Romans were required to use commercial kitchens, i.e. take your dinner down to the baker because you're not allowed to have those dangerous fire stoves in your home. No idea if that's correct, or "wayward history". Look what happened there, anyway. Or, at how many hone fires we have from kitchens even now. Doesn't stop most of us from buying stoves and toasters though, does it?
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Old 07-11-2013, 09:36   #20
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Re: Lithium Batteries /vs/ Fire safety?

Li-Cobalt cells are not used on boats (as far as I know).

Different lithium cells do have quite different properties. If we are discussing boat house banks liFeP04 are the dominant technology.
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Old 07-11-2013, 09:47   #21
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Re: Lithium Batteries /vs/ Fire safety?

If you short out any decent sized FLA bank, you will get burning wiring etc.
If you smash a FLA battery, you'll get a lot of nasty fluids eating your skin and everything else in sight while you deal with the above.

When I replaced my FLA bank for my home's backup, I noticed somewhere in the past there had been an acid spill on the TILE floor.
And no, I didn't have a spill tray for them.
The ceramic tile had been eaten nearly halfway through.
I'd always had a nagging worry about hydrogen gas during heavy charge and discharge, although as they were contained in a large room it was never a real problem.
Those are things I no longer have to worry about with my LiFePo4's.


I think we're feeding a troll.
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Old 07-11-2013, 09:56   #22
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Re: Lithium Batteries /vs/ Fire safety?

You have a fire in your car you stop and get out. You have a fire in your model airplane you call it a lesson and dont use that battery again. You have a fire on your boat, you go for a swim. Any questions?
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Old 07-11-2013, 09:57   #23
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Re: Lithium Batteries /vs/ Fire safety?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
The information that I've found elsewhere online overnight indicates that "lithium" is a problem only in lithium primary batteries, where the metal is present in such quantities that it does indeed cause a "lithium fire" requiring exotic controls.

And that the problem with "lithium ion" (general term) rechargeable batteries is totally different. Here, the electrolyte is a flammable hydrocarbon, not water based, and the nature of the fire has nothing to do with the lithium (which is a finely dispersed ingredient) but rather the electrolyte is burning, like a pool of gasoline, and the separator membranes are easily combustible plastic. So with a lithium rechargeable battery, you are trying to stop a pool of liquid and plastic hydrocarbons, very much like trying to put out a fire starter log in a bowl of fuel.



Dwayne-
FUD is what you get when someone says "lets move on" rather than exploring the issues and trying to get the facts sorted out. So you're right, stop the FUD and try making some contributions to the effort to find out what the facts are. As I'm trying to do. I note that you've made no effort to answer the question of what, whether, or if, any special attention to the risks of lithium rechargeable batteries is required.
Very similar to the way a number of shippers have ignored assorted lithium batteries and the regulations concerning shipping them, resulting in a number of documented fires that could have been easily avoided.
The problem is you ask a legitimate question and proceed to answer your own question with a bunch of unrelated or misleading statements. For instance;
" Here, the electrolyte is a flammable hydrocarbon, not water based, and the nature of the fire has nothing to do with the lithium (which is a finely dispersed ingredient) but rather the electrolyte is burning, like a pool of gasoline, and the separator membranes are easily combustible plastic."
Is this your interpretation or someone else's? Pool of gasoline (talk about FUD)? Have you ever seen or opened a cell? You realize the flash point of the electrolyte is higher than the diesel in your fuel tank and the volume is miniscule?
If you're truly worried about your original question here's my suggestion based upon my personal experience not the internet.
Be prepared to deal with smoke. Lots of smoke, you'll be unable to see or breath in short order if you can't ventate the area. The smoke will continue until the cell has completed it's shorting out. (about 15 minutes for a 700 amp cell) Douse in water, I waited about 5 minutes before I began the water. The case will expand and pop open but there is no combustion at this point. Water will not stop the shorting or the smoke and you just have to let it run it's course. PVC cases do not ignite easily and the electrolyte didn't either. Only a small amount of melting is observed at the metal terminals. The water cools the cell and prevents a true thermal runaway, which actually requires quite a high temp. Final step is open wallet and purchase new cell! No better no worse than any other fire on the boat, not fun.
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Old 07-11-2013, 11:35   #24
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Re: Lithium Batteries /vs/ Fire safety?

Nothing on a boat is without some risk. I can tell you though with 100% certainty that I feel significantly safer on our boat as to risk of fire, even with a LiFePO4 bank, than I do on 98% of the boats I set foot on every day....

55% of boat fires are electrical in nature (source ABYC data) and this data was taken well before Li batteries were ever even installed on boats... The Li battery boats I have been on are, as a general observation, some of the best electrically executed and safely wired vessels I set foot on.

I was on a boat three weeks ago with a 600 Ah TPPL AGM bank. It was wired with 2 GA wire and had ZERO OVER CURRENT PROTECTION !!!!! Talk about a fire hazard.....

Each one of those batteries can deliver 5000A of short circuit current into a dead short. That is 30,000A of short circuit potential into 2GA wire......

The existing electrical issues on existing boats far eclipses the concern over LiFePO4, in scale, from where I sit as a marine electrician..... Sad but true, as I see it every day...

Think about these for a moment:

*If diesel had been the only fuel and gasoline was invented today it would likely be banned permanently in today's society. "Far too dangerous."

*If propane gas had been invented today it would likely be banned permanently in today's society. "OMG it's heavier than air and settles,we're all going to die."....

*If glass was invented today it would likely be banned permanently in today's society. "What about the poor children."

*If electricity was invented today it would likely be banned permanently in today's society.. "It's far too dangerous.", "I don't want to look at those poles." "It's like inviting lightning over for dinner."

*If asprin was invented today it would likely be banned permanently in today's society. etc. etc. etc. on and on and on.....

*If LEAD ACID batteries were invented today they would likely be banned....... "They can explode." "Acid is far to dangerous." "What if they spill?" "What about a car accident?" "People will be blinded, permanently disfigured and acid burned."



It's a darn good thing people got out in front of all that is wrong with today's society and glass, gasoline, propane, asprin etc. were all invented long ago..

Nothing is without risk in life so we need to weigh risk, reward and safety for everything. Sailing a boat, in and of itself, is DANGEROUS...... So is walking, driving a car or eating at McDonald's...

I would venture to guess that I could find multiple safety issues on the boats of everyone who is anti Li batteries......

I propose a new law that mandates non-slip grip tape on shower and bath tub floors. After all how many folks slip, fall and get injured in showers or tubs every year.... No wait, I got a better idea, let's just ban showers and tubs, far to dangerous....

Tongue firmly in cheek while sitting on-board my Li battery vessel with the HEATER fired by DIESEL running.....
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Old 07-11-2013, 12:07   #25
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Re: Lithium Batteries /vs/ Fire safety?

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Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
SNIP!

I would venture to guess that I could find multiple safety issues on the boats of everyone who is anti Li batteries......

SNIP
I myself am not anti Lithium. I'm sure that you could find multiple safety issues on every boat. Not all skeptics or uninformed are anti.

I'm actually thinking of upgrading my battery bank from 4 GC to 4 L16. LiFeP04 actually sounds quite interesting to me which is why I started reading this thread.

I did get a little annoyed with the "show me" attitude as that I did not detect an anti lithium attitude in the OPs post. And I have seen a bit of, shall we say, very positive posting on LiFePO4 in other threads along with a bit of zealotry and overly defensive posts. (LiFePO4 will stand on its own merit) Which is why I've posted at all.

So perhaps it would be nice if we could discuss the cautions and best practices when using these batteries.

Of course I could be all wrong and the OP was a troll who intended to tell all LiFePO4 users how dumb and dangerous they are - risking life and limb at every moment. In that case my most profound apology.
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Old 07-11-2013, 12:54   #26
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Re: Lithium Batteries /vs/ Fire safety?

"If we are discussing boat house banks liFeP04 are the dominant technology. "
Dominant.<G> Is that a way to say, there have only been a dozen installations and the buyers seem to have gone to the one cheapest source? No, really, the market is still so small that I don't think we can place any statistical significance on the current choices. Especially given the flux in chemistries and pricing.

"Is this your interpretation or someone else's?"
Someone else's. There are some papers online that point out the fire problem is because of flammable hydrocarbon electrolyte and flammable plastic membrane. They can't go into specifics because there are different materials in use but the bottom line is whether you call it gasoline or kerosene (which is used to bath electric arc cutting bits to keep a clean arc, even though you'd think lamp fuel wasn't a good thing to surround electric arcs with) the point is, the batteries burn quite furiously once they are lit up. Two manufacturing facilities and a handful of vehicles including large cargo aircraft are on the record. That's not FUD, that's called the damned things are like a slice of the Dresden firestorms.
Your experience may have been "so what?" but I expect the folks at Sony, UPS, and other multi-million dollar losses would say things can go far worse than you've seen. FAA, DOT, UN, generally have some experience with hazmat procedures and they all still agree that they haven't figured out any surefire responses. No pun intended.

"The existing electrical issues on existing boats far eclipses"
Maine, look on the bright side. Thirty years ago the phrase "battery primary fuse" was unheard of. Today, at least the manufacturers are aware that this is a good thing. And the ubiquitous "fusible link wire" is banned as a fire hazard.

The OP is not anti-lithium but made a point that there's probably lithium in his future, and he wants to prepare for any potential special risk it brings. Funny how the pro-lithium folks go into a fury about how there's absolutely no risk at all instead of just responding on point with words like "All it needs is you 1A-10BC USCG extinguisher".

Which apparently is not all it needs, since they still require hazmat shipping. Unless the zealots are right, and all the folks who ship these things have an agenda to promote FUD and collect Hazmat fees. "Could be" the OP said with an open mind.<G>
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Old 07-11-2013, 13:17   #27
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Re: Lithium Batteries /vs/ Fire safety?

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I myself am not anti Lithium.
Sorry if my post was confusing. I was not suggesting anyone in this thread was anti-Li, but I have come across them, and I suspect with a thread like this they may show up......

I had one in real life this summer. As I was talking with a customer on a dock, who is interested in Li, the local dock expert overheard us and began pontificating on how any boat with Li was going to blow sky high and that it simply does not work on boats.....

Meanwhile I glance over and see his cobbled together home made shore power of 16GA extension cord, duct tape, and 5200, feeding his boat. I then looked up on his bimini and saw a 140W +/- solar panel wired with 16GA brown lamp cord...... Can't even fathom what the rest of the electrical system looked like.....
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Old 07-11-2013, 13:20   #28
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Re: Lithium Batteries /vs/ Fire safety?

The post by EVM1024 is entirely misleading, and makes no citable references and one real case of the 787 fire. Its lumps all Li technology in together.

LI, is in common use, in phones, drills, laptops etc. Its a safer technology once engineering right (like a lot of things) , within the Li family there are many tech variants and some like LIFE, have very safe characteristics, arguable much safer then LA batteries.

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Old 07-11-2013, 13:25   #29
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Re: Lithium Batteries /vs/ Fire safety?

hellosailor wrote: " Two manufacturing facilities and a handful of vehicles including large cargo aircraft are on the record. That's not FUD, that's called the damned things are like a slice of the Dresden firestorms. "

Really? Well then there is your answer. Run don't walk a LiFePo battery may be near you. Move along folks, nothing to see here, the firestorms are coming.
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Old 07-11-2013, 13:27   #30
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Re: Lithium Batteries /vs/ Fire safety?

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" Two manufacturing facilities and a handful of vehicles including large cargo aircraft are on the record. That's not FUD, that's called the damned things are like a slice of the Dresden firestorms. "

Really? Well then there is your answer. Run don't walk a LiFePo battery may be near you. Move along folks, nothing to see here, the fires are coming.
Dwain
Have you seen the combustibility of gasoline, nasty , several major fires every year,brought down a 747 too. I don't see mass hysteria
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