A well attended education session this morning addressed a number of hazards associated with lithium-ion batteries, which are probably powering the smart phone, laptop, or other electronic device on which you’re likely reading this blog post.
R. Thomas Long with Exponent, the engineering and scientific consulting firm, presented findings from the recent report, Lithium-Ion Batteries Hazard and Use Assessment, commissioned by the Fire Protection Research Foundation. The battery's makeup, noted Long, includes a flammable solvent that aids ion movement during battery charging and discharging. Another cause for concern is the rapid self-heating of a cell which Long referred to as "thermal runaway" that can potentially lead to a fire spreading to other battery cells or the release of flammable vapors.
Additional research already in the works includes full-scale fire tests that aim to identify storage commodity classifications and effective suppression strategies. Firefighter safety issues related to lithium-ion batteries will also be examined.
Read the NFPA Journal feature story for more information on the Foundation report and partnerships that have formed to address battery hazards.