Battery fires

Occasionally there are reports about vehicle battery fires. It seems fires also occur at recycling and trash facilities. This EPA report is from last year.

An Analysis of Lithium-ion Battery Fires in Waste Management and Recycling
www.epa.gov/system/files/documents/2021-08/lithium-ion-batte…
This report was written to explore the growing number of fires caused by lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) in the waste management process. Anecdotal information has shown that materials recovery facilities (i.e., recycling centers or “MRFs”) and other waste facilities have seen an increased number of fires due to LIBs, but there has been limited data on fire incidents at a national level. This report will help fill in this research gap.

DB2

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Were any of these fires caused by vehicles? Probably most/all were from the bazillion Li-ion batteries in cell phones, laptops, tablets, air pods, scooters, hoverboards etc, many of which are just tossed into the trash.
Interesting to note that half as many fires were caused by discarded propane tanks and there are orders of magnitudes fewer of them in circulation.

Mike

Were any of these fires caused by vehicles?

Don’t think so; the EPA focused on recycling/waste facilities. This does point to a future issue in auto junkyards and the like where EVs would be taken after being in a car crash or totaled.

Probably most/all were from the bazillion Li-ion batteries in cell phones, laptops, tablets, air pods, scooters, hoverboards etc.

Yup – something I didn’t know about. Wasn’t there an issue a few years back where you couldn’t take a certain brand of phone on board a plane because of spontaneous fires?

DB2

The fuel for most lithium battery fires is the combustible liquid used to make them. People are working on better technology. Non-cumbustible liquid. Or solid state equivalent.

Improvements may be on the way.

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Wasn’t there an issue a few years back where you couldn’t take a certain brand of phone on board a plane because of spontaneous fires?

The Samsung Note 7 (IIRC). I think the issue (might be this) All Li-ion batteries expand a small bit when hot. Slightly defective ones expand a bit more. The case design for the Note 7 was too restrictive so fires were caused more easily when they expanded.
I don’t know if this is the real technical reason or not.

There was also an issue with some hover boards that had bad batteries.

The paper was also interesting in that non-lithium rechargeable batteries caused 10% of the fires compared to 40% for lithium. This seems quite high since I would think lithium is by far the most common.

And other batteries 15%. Are these just your common alkaline? Must be huge numbers of those out there.

Mike

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Apparently there are a fair number of fires at recycling plants.

The troubling fire record of UK recycling plants
www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/jul/06/troubli…
There were on average more than 300 fires per year at waste and recycling plants in the UK between 2001 and 2013…Most waste sites are “well run”, says Nicky Cunningham, deputy director for waste regulation at the Environment Agency, and awareness of fire risks is increasing. Yet the combustibility of the materials destined for recycling centres – paper, plastic, wood, cardboard and so on – means it’s impossible for waste businesses to take too many precautions…

The inclusion of “hot or hazardous materials” in kerbside recycling cause nearly one third (31%) of all fires in waste and recycling facilities, according to WISH. Chief culprits include hot ashes, lithium batteries, gas cylinders, flammable liquids and aerosols – the latter being cited by fire services at this week’s Oldbury fire.

Lithium batteries are a particular concern, according to Stephen Freeland, policy manager at the Scottish Environmental Services Association. He says: “It’s been causing us no end of bother and it’s getting worse as these batteries are appearing in all sorts of electrical products.”

DB2