Lithium Ion battery dangers ?

waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
So, it's just been released that one of the things the US DOT is calling for a full investigation of, regarding all the Boeing Dreamliners, is the Lithium Ion batteries that recently caught fire while the aircraft was on the ground. Interesting. Another interesting thing is the proliferation of home tools etc powered by such batteries. I fear we'll be seeing an increase in home fires started by such batteries. Right or overly cautious, I put my lithium batteries in a large stainless pot when recharging them.
A simple charger failure can result in overcharging and fire.
Can someone convince me I'm being over cautious with Lithium Ion batteries?

Comments

  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Lithium Ion battery dangers ?
    Right or overly cautious, I put my lithium batteries in a large stainless pot when recharging them.
    A simple charger failure can result in overcharging and fire.
    Can someone convince me I'm being over cautious with Lithium Ion batteries?

    The stainless steel pot is definitely overkill. Most people are completely satisfied with a fiberglass or Nomex (TM) bag on a non-combustible surface.
    Of course they also do not leave the charger unattended.
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Lithium Ion battery dangers ?

    Hmmmmm, all summer while building we had as many as 4 Makita Li battery chargers running, or at least plugged in with a charged battery on it waiting for exchange, off in a corner filled with wood and some sawdust and other flammables.
    Last winter ('11) we even had an electric heater under a tarp to keep the batteries warmer than the -15 temps while charging.....
    No More based on these tid bits...
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Lithium Ion battery dangers ?
    westbranch wrote: »
    Hmmmmm, all summer while building we had as many as 4 Makita Li battery chargers running, or at least plugged in with a charged battery on it waiting for exchange, off in a corner filled with wood and some sawdust and other flammables.
    Last winter ('11) we even had an electric heater under a tarp to keep the batteries warmer than the -15 temps while charging.....
    No More based on these tid bits...

    Remember, the batteries do not catch fire or explode! They "vent with flame" or "experience spontaneous disassembly".
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Lithium Ion battery dangers ?

    I just want to make sure they are charged outside away from flammable items. Too much that is easily ignited at the new place yet

    Kind of like the old hot plates, don't leave the burner on...

    Even a 40w light bulb left on 24/7 will char through arborite counter tops and the 1 inch furniture grade press board below it... How? My cousins kitchen remodel, Micro above stove taken off wall and 'temp' home was on top of the island, stove light on the bottom face got turned on by accident ... so I 'inherited' a rolling kitchen island.
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • mtdocmtdoc Solar Expert Posts: 600 ✭✭
    Re: Lithium Ion battery dangers ?

    An important point when talking about "lithium batteries" -- there are over 20 different types of lithium battery chemistries out there - some can be dangerous if overcharged, punctured, etc (some of the LiPo or lithium polymers) while others are very safe - less likely to catch fire or explode than LA batteries (eg LiFePO4).
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Lithium Ion battery dangers ?
    mtdoc wrote: »
    An important point when talking about "lithium batteries" -- there are over 20 different types of lithium battery chemistries out there - some can be dangerous if overcharged, punctured, etc (some of the LiPo or lithium polymers) while others are very safe - less likely to catch fire or explode than LA batteries (eg LiFePO4).

    True, but how is the average consumer to know the difference, or know that there even IS a difference?
    I'm not arguing with you, just expressing frustration. I LOVE the positive properties of Lithium Ion batteries, they just scare me. Wondering out loud if I should invest in a metal cabinet or fireproof safe to keep my rechargeable drills in. Especially when they're being charged.
  • mtdocmtdoc Solar Expert Posts: 600 ✭✭
    Re: Lithium Ion battery dangers ?
    True, but how is the average consumer to know the difference, or know that there even IS a difference?

    Good point, but on the other hand for the vast majority of consumer products using lithium batteries I can't believe there are any real safety issues. There must be literally millions of these small lithium batteries out there in cordless power tools, laptops, smart phones, tablet computers, remote control toys, cordless kitchen tools, cordless hair clippers, etc. I haven't heard of any of these bursting into flames. Well- at least not recently... I do remember several years ago some laptop battery fires...
    I LOVE the positive properties of Lithium Ion batteries, they just scare me. Wondering out loud if I should invest in a metal cabinet or fireproof safe to keep my rechargeable drills in. Especially when they're being charged.

    I do share some of your concerns -though I guess I don't worry about power tools, laptops, etc. When I first got my 48V 20AH ebay special LiFePO4 battery pack for my ebike - I did not understand the difference between the different lithium chemistries and charged in in a metal bucket!. :roll:
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Lithium Ion battery dangers ?

    Lithium Ion fires and how to combat them:

    http://gigaom.com/2011/04/04/lithium-ion-batteries-faulted-for-jet-crash/

    and the following in-flight training video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vS6KA_Si-m8
  • RandomJoeRandomJoe Solar Expert Posts: 472 ✭✭✭
    Re: Lithium Ion battery dangers ?

    I'm literally surrounded by various types of lithium batteries. While I occasionally think about the lithium issues, I generally don't worry about it. Of course most of them are specialized cells in equipment with custom charging circuitry - tablets, phones, laptops. I also have some LiFePO4 cells for radio / portable use.

    The way construction workers tend to treat their battery-operated power tools, if there was going to be a problem with those lithium battery packs I think we'd have heard about plenty of issues by now. If anything the chargers seem to be TOO cautious, stopping charge and flashing the error code if anything even remotely looks suspicious. it's also hard to over-discharge tool batteries (at least the tools I have) as they switch themselves off at a certain point rather than continuing on slower and slower as the NiCd and NiMH units did.

    Heck, I've had more "excitement" from my CFL bulbs than lithium batteries! ;) Had several crack the base open, a couple vent smoke, one went SPECTACULARLY with a gout of flame!

    Now, when I decide to replace the battery bank, if I were to splurge for a big lithium bank -- *that* might give me a few nervous nights! :p Sure would be sweet though...
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Lithium Ion battery dangers ?

    Some good points there "Random Joe". Thanks for your thoughts.
  • ShadowcatcherShadowcatcher Solar Expert Posts: 228 ✭✭✭
    Re: Lithium Ion battery dangers ?

    I use a lot of lithium batteries, mostly of the AA and AAA variety. These are recharged in a Maha charger which has a "soft charge" function which is slower. The batteries do not get hot. To a certain extent this is an apple vs. orange comparison and this is a "smart charger" but points out that for the few tool batteries I do have, the lack of smart and the rush to quickly charge means a hot battery.
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Lithium Ion battery dangers ?

    add: the following is for Makita 14v Li battery packs and their proprietary charger...only

    My 14v impact driver batteries go onto a 1 hour 'fast' charger. It is hard to know just how low they get until the impacter starts clicking and the screw does not move. They DO get warm even when at - 15*C If the battery is too cold or too hot there is an auto shutoff in the charger, hence the tarp mentioned earlier...
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Lithium Ion battery dangers ?

    Re charging them on a non-lithium ion chargers, I'd be very, very careful of that. In fact I personally would never do it. It's been my understanding from all the info I've read, that at least in some cases, they don't vent flames only because they're hot, but will when they're overcharged, charged beyond their rated power storage capacity. Something in their chemistry changes and they become very unstable, and that can lead to their "sudden dis-assembly and venting of flames". Proper chargers keep a VERY close "eye" on the battery voltage and shut down before that takes place. Proper chargers also monitor the voltage of individual cells to prevent any cell from being overcharged, out of sync with the others it's in series with. And properly designed tools have a monitor to shut it down before the battery is fully discharged, as to fully discharge a cell, ruins it. Nothing is simple when it comes to Lithium Ion batteries.
  • 4wsilver4wsilver Registered Users Posts: 1
    Re: Lithium Ion battery dangers ?

    Much has been said about lithium problems but, while cautious, I have not got that much concern. All the problems are usually centered around new products, especially manufactures attempting a new way of doing things without adequate testing. If you look at Boeing design process and what they did, they should be 100% liable for their errors. Many of their engineers argued about what was done prior to the problems, but as usual managers had the final say. I use really large format lithium (LIFEPO4) cell in my motor home, but I have protection to prevent problems. Almost all computer, cell, and hand tools have an elaborate system of a computer literally inside the battery monitoring the charging or discharging of the cells. As long as the proper charger is used and the load is kept to the intended use they are relatively safe. Remember that ordinary batteries (dry Cells) and lead acid batteries really have a lot more problems than lithium cells. Or would you prefer NiCad's or NiMH? They have far more problems than lithium too. Many fires are caused by NiCad's and lead acid cells. You only hear about lithium because they are new and news worthy.
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Lithium Ion battery dangers ?

    Good Luck 4wsilver. Oh, and welcome to the forum.
  • ggunnggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: Lithium Ion battery dangers ?
    4wsilver wrote: »
    Much has been said about lithium problems but, while cautious, I have not got that much concern. All the problems are usually centered around new products, especially manufactures attempting a new way of doing things without adequate testing.
    There is no such thing as adequate testing, really. Testing involves anticipating problems and trying to cause failures based on those scenarios, but there is always a nonzero probability of something happening that you didn't anticipate. Testing involves spot checking a statistically significant sample of your product for defects, but there is always a nonzero probability of a defective unit escaping despite your exhaustive statistical analysis of how many units you need to check to catch them all.

    The only 100% effective testing methodology would be to stress every unit you produce until it fails, but then you would have no product to sell. Bummer.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,452 admin
    Re: Lithium Ion battery dangers ?

    Well, assuming something will fail (i.e., batteries "smoke" for whatever "impossible to conceive" reason) and then dealing with/containing the failure would have been a better idea in this case (hindsight is always 20/20).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • nsaspooknsaspook Solar Expert Posts: 396 ✭✭✭
    Re: Lithium Ion battery dangers ?

    NTSB April 11, 2013

    Public Forum:
    Lithium Ion Batteries in Transportation

    http://www.capitolconnection.net/capcon/ntsb/ntsb.htm
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,380 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Lithium Ion battery dangers ?

    I think GM got it right with the Batteries on the Volt. Liquid cooled, well monitored at the cell level and a good battery management system for charging.

    http://www.driveforinnovation.com/volt-teardown-the-battery-pack/
    The control systems on the battery pack are notable. Consider some of the things the electronics must do. Every cell in the battery pack is monitored for voltage and current, and temperature probes are placed at 16 points along the battery. Five hundred diagnostic tests are done ten times a second. The processors must decide whether the cells are safe, overcharged or undercharged, and take corrective action as required. The temperature of the cells must be continuously monitored and the coolant must be chilled or heated as required. When the car is charging from the wall, the power for this is taken from the AC to DC converter, but the battery will cannibalize its own charge to temperature control the pack when the car is unplugged. During regenerative braking, the controls systems must capture as much of the kinetic energy of the vehicle as possible; this has to be done in a few seconds whereas the Li-ion cells like to be charged over a period of hours. All this must be done by the control electronics flawlessly and safely for a decade.
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