Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery energy storage systems (BESSs) are becoming more and more popular. They can deliver power that is easily controlled making them suitable for a wide variety of applications. They are commonly used for powering our mobile phones, laptops and tablets, as well as supplying energy to medical equipment, electric vehicles and power tools. They are also employed for more demanding tasks such as providing back-up power for call centres, data centres and a variety of other applications that rely on having a back-up power solution.
BESSs Role in a Low Carbon Economy
Energy storage has a crucial role to play in both the management of energy supply and in the wider uptake of renewable energy technologies in the future. As energy requirements continue to grow, storage technologies and projects will help to ensure that energy is always available where it is needed.
Leaders from around the world pledged to achieve net zero by 2050 during the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference.
Energy storage vastly improves the way we create, deliver and use our electricity. BESSs can store energy from the grid and from renewable energy sources, and make use of advanced technologies that can provide important balancing services to the grid. Battery storage has the ability to very quickly respond to the grid’s energy needs, with these technologies being able to respond to the grid’s energy needs in less than 1 second.
The IEA estimates that Li-ion accounted for 93% of new energy storage capacity installed in 2020 (up from 71% in 2015). This meant an increase in BESS by 50% in 2020, reaching an all time high of 5 GW. To achieve net zero by 2050, global capacity will need to expand 35-fold to 585 GW by 2030.
The Stages of a Lithium-ion Battery Failure
Despite all the advantages of BESSs, there are some safety concerns over their use. Li-ion batteries can be very volatile. If they are mistreated they can explode or catch fire which can quickly spread to other batteries and racks causing a series of catastrophic events.
Li-ion battery failure happens in stages:
- Stage 1 – Initiation Abuse Factor
- Stage 1 is the initiation abuse factor. This can be electrical, thermal or mechanical abuse that causes the battery to start to fail.
- Stage 2 – Off-gas Generation
- The second stage is off-gas generation; as the battery begins to fail, electrolytes break down and generate gas that is released from the cell in an off-gas event. This stage occurs immediately before thermal runaway; a situation where an increase in temperature changes the conditions in a way that causes a further increase in temperature and is typically the last thing to happen before a fire occurs.
- Stage 3 – Smoke Generation
- The next stage is smoke generation. This is an indication that the cell has reached the stage of thermal runaway and that the cell can experience rapid disassembly at any moment. The smoke is produced inside the cell and, if the cell has already experienced a vent or rupture from the off-gas event, the smoke is able to escape the battery and is detectable by smoke detectors. Following smoke generation, there is usually very little time before the cell catches fire.
- Stage 4 – Fire Generation
- Once smoke generation occurs, the battery is in an extremely vulnerable state and can catch fire or explode at any moment.
If a li-ion battery is allowed to reach the final stages of failure, it is highly likely to cause a fire that will spread very quickly, leaving a wake of destruction in its path.
However, advanced detection technologies such as the Li-ion Tamer from Xtralis, can reduce the risk and eliminate costly false alarms.
How to Lower the Insurance Risk?
The ability to lower risk and prevent a probable maximum loss (PML) situation mainly depends on the ability to detect potential failures early enough to provide efficient suppression and containment.
The Li-ion Tamer rack monitoring system for lithium-ion battery racks provides an extremely early warning of battery failure by detecting the gas that is released during the off-gas stage of failure. This means that potential fires can be detected and dealt with before they become out of hand and cause significant damage.
Li-ion Tamer works to prevent potential threats of fire by initiating an automated response when off-gases are detected to increase system reliability and reduce the risk of fires from developing and becoming out of hand.
When the Li-on Tamer detects the presence of gases from a cell, a signal is sent to the BMS which shuts off all power to the affected cell, electrically isolating the battery. The cell can then be identified and replaced, thus avoiding triggering of the suppression system and damage to the overall system.
When compared to aspirating smoke detection and aspirating gas detection, Li-ion Tamer has proven to be the fastest and most efficient means of detecting the early signs of thermal runaway, delivering a warning to the battery management system with 25 minutes notice.
False Positive Prevention
False positives, also known as false alarms, can lead to unwanted system shutdowns, down time and damage from unnecessary automated suppression methods.
Fire suppression methods such as sprinklers and foam injection are a BESS’s last line of defence. Unnecessary suppression activation incidents can result in severe damage to property, increased liability for the insurer, high replacement costs and, ultimately, a hefty insurance claim..
Li-ion Tamer uses reference sensors to detect alien vapours that may enter the battery compartment from outside. This means if the same vapour is detected by both the battery sensor and the reference sensor, it can be prevented from triggering an alarm.
Li-ion Tamer Compatibility
Li-ion Tamer accommodates a wide range of li-ion battery systems and can significantly reduce risk, resulting in lower insurance premiums.
It is easy to incorporate into new or existing BESS and can be adapted to suit rack layouts from all the leading manufacturers. Sensors can provide maximum flexibility in terms of number, position and orientation.
Flexible configuration options, including Modbus and digital outputs, make Li-ion Tamer compatible with any Battery MAnagement System, making it the ideal choice for most applications.
As we push to increase renewable energy, the market for utility grade and behind-the-metre BESS is expected to grow rapidly. Insurance companies underwriting energy storage projects will be critical to this expansion.
Fire safety is of paramount importance when it comes to BESS and Li-ion Tamer provides the fastest and most reliable method of fire prevention in BESS on the market today.
Why Choose Eurofyre?
- Complete System Supplier
- Eurofyre 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.