The explosive problem of ‘zombie’ batteries

Typical electric car set-up

There may be trouble ahead, as the song goes. But are we ready to face the music of industrial-scale lithium battery volatility, brought to us by government edict? Below we look at the second part of a BBC News story.
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Batteries that power mobile phones and other devices are causing fires because they are not disposed of properly, says BBC News.

Smallmead Recycling Centre

Lithium-ion batteries, which power mobile phones, tablets and toothbrushes, can be extremely volatile if damaged.

CCTV footage taken at several recycling centres shows explosions sending flames and debris shooting across sorting areas.

And those sorts of batteries are a growing menace.

Between April 2019 and March 2020, lithium-ion batteries were suspected to have caused around 250 fires at waste facilities. That is 38% of all fires, up from 25% compared to the previous year, according to the latest data from ESA.

In many cases the precise cause of a fire is never established but ESA says it is likely that lithium-ion batteries account for an even bigger proportion of fires.

Paul Christensen, professor of pure and applied electrochemistry at the University of Newcastle, has deliberately damaged lithium-ion batteries in experiments to make them explode.

The experiments are part of his work to help fire brigades tackle fires involving lithium-ion batteries.

Prof Christensen is a “massive fan” of the batteries and points out that they are perfectly stable under normal conditions.

However, he says that even small lithium-ion batteries, similar to the ones in your mobile phone, would explode “with a rocket flame” if punctured.

His real concern though is with the much bigger batteries found in electric cars, or used to store electricity in homes and businesses.

They are generally divided into many small cells and managed by software that keeps the battery running smoothly. But if a car crashes and some of those cells are damaged, the chemicals inside can generate huge of amounts of heat, damaging and igniting other cells.

“An electric vehicle will burn for much longer than an internal combustion vehicle. They give off potentially explosive and toxic fumes. They can reignite hours, days or weeks after the incident,” says Prof Christensen.

Electric cars are still relatively rare on the roads, but that will change in the coming years.

In February the UK government brought forward a ban on selling new petrol, diesel or hybrid cars from 2040 to 2035 at the latest.

Governments elsewhere in the world are also encouraging electric car sales – in China the government wants 25% of new cars sold to be electrified by 2025.

“That means not just more electric vehicles, but the production facilities will get more and bigger… the storage facilities are going to get more and bigger,” Prof Christensen says.

He wants planning and safety regulations to take account of the risks of having so many more powerful batteries. He also wants better training for firefighters.

Full article here.

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October 26, 2020 at 04:15AM

Author: uwe.roland.gross

Don`t worry there is no significant man- made global warming. The global warming scare is not driven by science but driven by politics. Al Gore and the UN are dead wrong on climate fears. The IPCC process is a perversion of science.