Energy Storage System Fire Protection: Key Fire Safety Concerns

Posted by ORR Protection on Jan 5, 2021 9:51:47 AM

During the MCFP Virtual Conference series, Rick Reynolds, Vice President of Engineering and Training at ORR Protection Systems, discusses Energy Storage System Fire Protection Options. Part 3 of 5.

Video Transcript:

This data has been very, very beneficial to everybody. So it's been it's been bedded a lot. And so if you're going to install a new lithium ion battery in your UPS unit or in a pod, if you will, and an energy storage someplace, or if you're an authority having jurisdiction, and that's going to come into your city, my recommendation is get a hold of this 9540A, ask for it. You are, you really need to get it. This screen right here is a true flow chart of everybody in the actual flow of that data. So the energy storage system, then it would go from them, which is a person that's actually putting it all together. Then it would go to the 9540A test. And this is long before you would even see it out at the actual, at the property. Then it would go to the fire test report. We would all get that.

Then the manufacturer or the integrator, then the fire protection consultant, and that would be ORR, and the manufacturer, we would be working side by side in conjunction with them. Then we would have, the insurance industry would take a look at that report. The building owner would look at that report. The authority having jurisdiction, the fire department would take a look at that report. Everybody would have it and be able to make the right decision in order to keep the public safe, the first responders safe, all of those folks safe. And that way everybody would know the application that they're installing this in is a hundred percent the exact right, and the, the right area to put this actual stored energy. Even if it's a UPS module someplace in a data center, let's make sure that we're putting this and we're evaluating this based on the UL 9540A report.

Like I said, almost all the battery manufacturers, LG Kim, Panasonic, a lot of these battery manufacturers, Samsung have already done this report. This report has already been reevaluated. So ask for that report from your integrator, then they'll be able to share that. Then, as the fire protection experts, we will be able to tell you, "Hey, by the way, yeah, we've seen this by the way. Yeah, the methodology is this." We'll be able to partner with you ordering to those battery manufacturers. Now, once we get that report, this is kind of like the hierarchy of suppression or the hierarchy of review. And the reason for that is it changes the landscape because 855 or NFPA 855 requires some uniqueness within in itself. And that uniqueness is that in 855, there's a section in there that is 4.1.5 that specifically states that if you're going to put an alternate suppression system in there, it has to be fully tested.

And that full testing means that you got to do a full scale test to validate for validity of suppression of that system. So it's very important to make sure that the system that we're going to install and the solution that we're going to install is and has been vetted out. So wherever you're going to install this, if you're going to put a rooftop lithium ion storage unit, or if you're going to put a supplemental lithium ion storage unit within your battery plant, or if you're going to change out that battery plant from lead acid batteries to lithium ion batteries, which is easy to do, and there's going to be providers out there, that's going to tell you, "Yeah, it's easy, we can come in here and knock that out," and they can, but please understand there's some criteria that have to come into play there.

And that 9540A would be a very good tool, but a full-scale testing of suppression has to be taken into consideration. Now that DNDGL report is a good example of a full-scale test that took place. The actual NFPA research foundation report is a good example of that. So then once you get that, then EPC, or the engineering procure and contractor, as well as ORR Protection Systems, we work hand in hand, then we do the evaluation of course, in the end. So very, very important how that works. Now, we're going to get down to the macro level of a battery failure. Now this is an example of an overcharging. Now, when we start talking about this, this actually came from a third party company.

This is another test that was done with DNVGL. Now it's been probably seven or eight months ago, but a little bit longer than that, maybe I've got to go to one of the test and witness a battery failure and witness a battery test. And up until that point, I knew the, I got to watch videos of a test. I have a battery failure, a lithium ion battery failure, and I got to see how it propagated and I got to see the energy associated on video, but I've got to be honest, until I'd actually seen the amount of energy that was expelled from one of these batteries, I didn't appreciate it. And now I've seen it, witnessed it by firsthand. And I've got, I have a whole different respect for this thing called lithium ion storage and a lot of energy around these and literally, and I think that we all have to take those into consideration.

So this first test as I said, was conducted by DNVGL. And for those that may not be aware of DNVGL, they're very, very similar to the UL's of the world. They actually are equivalent in testing criteria, equivalent in respect, in my book, based on all of the knowledge I have of them and talking with them. They do a lot of fire testing, a lot of research and development. They're more of a European-based, but they have a lot of resources here in the country, in the States as well, but they they focus a lot more on the fire side maybe than UL does, but anyway, they are very, very strong and very good at what they do as well. But UL is too don't, don't get me wrong. So anyway, this is a 63 amp hour pouch, and you can see that's an example of the pouch up there in the top left of the screen.

So in reference to that, this is an example of one of those pouches that was overcharged. So as this as this overcharging takes place, you can see the rise of the actual event taking place to the point where we have thermal runaway. Okay. So as you increase the pouch, they blanket it with a temperature-sensitive mat. They continue to increase the temperature, the mat overheats it, and then it finally bursts by the both sides of the actual mat coming to a point where it actually makes both, the electrolyte finally gets to a point where both the positive and negative charge, and then it it off gases. And then when it off gases it finally, then it goes into thermal runaway. So this is a good example or a clean example of what takes place and what transpires in a thermal runaway event. That off gas does take place. And it shows some of the gases, and you can see some of those toxic gases that are taking place in the thermal runaway environment there. So in doing so I think the key factor here is that blue line that's on the bottom of this screen.

Now that blue line is a representation of the LEL, and that's the lower explosive limit. Now what we know in lower, when we start talking about toxic gases and flammability gases, we always in our industry of fire protection or industrial gas monitoring, we always look at that as 25% of the LEL or the lower explosive limit. Once we reach 25%, we're sending off alarms, we're shutting down and we're evacuating gasses, we're turning on exhaust fans at 25% of that. That's kind of like our safety alarm we want at 25%. We want that to be our safety margin. So anything over 25%, that's kind of like our shut off mark, right? And as you can see there, a lot of these gases are not taking place until after thermal runaway. So that's a key thing to take into consideration.

So we're not, there's no gases that are really at that LEL mark until after thermal runaway. So it's kind of, there's some things that are brewing in that, that once we go into off gas mode, then it goes into thermal runaway. So that's a quick transition there that has to be very, very sensitive there. Now there's a product on the marketplace that I highly highly think that everybody needs to be aware of. And that's a product called Lion Tamer. Now that's a trade name, but Lion Tamer is the only product that's in the marketplace today. And this product has been around for about going on 11 to 12 years. The US Navy had a submarine about 11, 12 years ago that they were using lithium-ion batteries on subs. And this sub, as the story goes, had a thermal event or a runaway. And we had some critical situation, took place to the risk of some, maybe even some risk of loss of life. And they actually went to a research company and a company called Nick Cirrus. And they actually went to them that was already making some other products for them and said, "Hey, can you actually help in researching a product that can help us detect or help us in thermal runaway of lithium ion batteries?" Well, in doing so, they actually came up with a product for the military.

And in order to pre-detect when a lithium ion battery would go into runaway and in doing so, they created or built product called Lion Tamer. Well, they built it about 11 years ago and the military has been using it ever since. And as you see in this slide, it's very interesting that Lion Tamer was able to detect this exact event, 6.4 minutes prior to that particular event taking place. Now, if you remember on the previous slide, you've seen that we did not register any LEL detection readings prior to on our LEL detector. It didn't read that. Well, this Lion Tamer product has the capabilities of reading or registering this cocktail of sauces of off gas that's coming off of these batteries. So this solution that's in these batteries, if you will, this is the secret sauce it's in all the lithium ion, be it LG Kim, be it Samsung, be it whoever's battery.

Topics: Featured Article, Featured Blog, MCFP

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