Batteries are commonly used to provide back-up or uninterruptible power systems. Often installed into racks located in a dedicated battery room, they provide power support for data centres, telecommunications systems and other computer equipment to ensure constant operation in the event of power failure. These batteries can provide minutes, hours or even days of power depending on the design of the system, although they are most commonly used to provide support during brief electricity outages.
Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are fast becoming the most popular type of battery available today and can provide a solution to most of the energy challenges that critical systems face. Li-ion battery racks can be installed with as many cells as necessary to meet the requirements of the application which can range from single racks with a small number of batteries to multiple racks that take over an entire room.
Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries have a high energy density, no memory effect and low self-discharge. However, they can be a safety hazard as they contain flammable electrolytes and, if damaged or incorrectly charged, can lead to explosions and fires.
Battery fires can have catastrophic consequences to any business. Therefore, it is essential that suitable fire detection solutions are in place to catch any fires in their early stages, before serious damage is caused and lives are put at risk.
What are the Risks?
When lithium ion batteries fail, thermal runaway occurs, a process that is accelerated by increased temperature, in turn releasing energy that further increases temperature. This can cause a fire to break out in the battery rack and spread throughout the rest of the building.
The Stages of Lithium-ion Battery Failure
There are several stages to lithium-ion battery failure:
- Typically, the first stage is battery abuse. This can be anything from thermal abuse where the battery is allowed to overheat, electrical abuse such as when the battery is overcharged or mechanical abuse.
- The second stage is off-gas. This occurs when a battery begins to fail. Electrolytes break down and generate gas which is released from the cell in an off-gas event. This occurs significantly before thermal runaway – a situation where an increase in temperature changes the conditions in a way that causes a further increase in temperature.
- Smoke Generation
- Smoke generation occurs once thermal runaway has started and catastrophic failure is imminent.
- Fire often occurs at the same time as smoke generation and can have devastating consequences. Often, by the time a battery has reached this stage, stopping it from spreading to other batteries in the rack is almost impossible.
What are the Challenges:
Traditional fire detection systems are usually incapable of detecting a fire before there is a presence of smoke. By this stage of the fire, it is almost certain that there will already be flames that are rapidly spreading to neighbouring batteries and equipment, causing the fire to escalate into other parts of the building.
Handpicked Products for a Lithium-ion Battery Rack
The Li-ion Tamer Rack Monitoring system is designed to detect Li-ion battery failures before a fire occurs. It does this by detecting the gas released during the off-gas event that occurs before thermal runaway. By adopting this approach, potential fires can be detected and dealt with before any damage occurs.
The Li-ion Tamer rack monitoring system is a cost-effective and easy to install detection solution that has an extended life time of ten years and comprises just three components; a controller, a monitoring sensor and a reference sensor.
The Li-ion Tamer is installed in a separate location to the batteries and monitors the signals from both sets of sensors to provide fast and reliable detection of failure while mitigating nuisance alarms.
Monitoring sensors are acutely sensitive to battery electrolyte solvent vapours. Combined with proprietary algorithms, this creates a product that can detect a single cell failure faster than traditional monitoring methods such as temperature and voltage monitoring. If a single cell in the battery system produces an off-gas event, the monitoring sensor sends a signal to the Li-ion Tamer Controller.
Reference sensors are distributed throughout the area around the battery racks to monitor the ambient environment and air inlets to cancel common mode signals.
Why Choose Eurofyre?
- Complete System Supplier
- Eurofyre manufactures and supplies all aspects of fire detection and its associated safety products, including battery rack monitoring systems, and can provide expert advice and consultation.
- Demonstration and Training
- We offer demonstrations and expert training on a range of systems, including Li-ion Tamer Rack Monitoring systems, in our very own sophisticated training facility.
- After-Sales Support
- Eurofyre offers both on-site and telephone support to assist you in ensuring that your system is fully functional and operating at maximum efficiency. Our after-sales care and support are second to none.
For more information about Li-ion Tamer Rack Monitoring systems, or to discuss any of the other products that Eurofyre has to offer, please feel free to get in touch either by phone on +44 (0) 1329 835 024, by email to [email protected] or via the online enquiry form situated on our contact page.