We have been following a European Union report on the possibility of lithium batteries in ships. Around 5% of carbon emissions would vanish, if we could get around the safety concerns and do away with diesel. Thus far, the EU scientists have considered factors contributing to thermal runaway. Now they turn to the critical question of suppressing lithium battery fires.
Suppressing Lithium Battery Fires in Critical Stages
The EU investigated stopping a lithium fire event in its tracks, and thereby eliminating the need for suppressing it. A design by a battery manufacturer caught their eye. Since it could extinguish lithium fires within ten seconds from detection.
The battery is in containment robust enough to surround a thermal runaway or fire event. The system monitors the battery electrolyte and removes the external power source when it detects overheating. When a pyro-switch triggers, it injects non-toxic and non-conductive foam that chokes the flames. The patented foam also cools the battery to eliminate flare-ups. The affected battery is then ready for removal, and isolation for disposal.
This is Amazing! Could it Really Be This Simple?
The system is a progressive, staged way of suppressing lithium battery fires. The first defense is a robust containment and automatic removal of the power source. Thus, the problem of thermal runaway during charging is removed.
The foam only injects if the battery temperature continues to rise above 150°C, when the fire suppression system deploys. Thereafter, the foam rapidly dissipates and ejects the explosive gases from the housing. This appears to be a workable solution to the challenge of marine lithium battery fires far out to sea.
We imagine fleets of vessels crossing the oceans on solar power. And without a single smudge of diesel pollution to mar the horizon. Now we can dream of greener oceans finally.
Preview Image: Boeing 787 Dreamliner Battery