Lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries are becoming increasingly popular. They provide a solution to many of the energy challenges the world faces today. They are typically used in applications such as data centres that require uninterruptible power supply. Lithium ion battery racks contain as many batteries as required to meet the power requirements of the application – this can range from single racks with a small number of batteries to multiple racks that take up an entire dedicated room.
Battery fires can be devastating to any business. Therefore, it is imperative that suitable and reliable fire detection systems are in place to catch fire in its early stages so it can be dealt with before serious damage occurs and lives are put at risk.
What are the Risks?
Lithium ion technology is inherently flammable leaving many organisations concerned about the safety of Li-ion batteries. If mistreated or damaged, Li-ion batteries can fail and thermal runaway – a situation where an increase in temperature changes the conditions in a way that causes a further increase in temperature – can occur and start a fire within the battery rack.
What are the Challenges?
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 and 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.
Traditional fire detection systems are unable to detect a fire before there is any smoke. By this point, it is likely that flames are already present and are causing neighbouring batteries to ignite in a catastrophic chain of events. At this point, the chances of dealing with the fire before serious harm is done are slim.
What is the Solution?
Li-ion Tamer GEN 3 reliably alerts the user to the early signs of failing lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) by detecting the battery electrolyte vapours that are released in the off-gas stage of failure. This allows facility managers to respond to impending thermal runaway events during the very early stages of failure.
Li-ion Tamer GEN 3 also provides multi-point temperature and humidity measurements for improved environmental control and situational awareness across a wide range of applications. This unique lithium-ion battery off-gas detection system is highly scalable making it a cost-effective solution for modular, containerised and large scale lithium-ion battery installations.
Installation is quick and easy. Daisy chain connections between sensing nodes reduce the amount of cabling required enabling the system to be deployed and set up very quickly. Configuration and commissioning is carried out through a software interface which also provides diagnostic information to make troubleshooting and maintenance easy.
Li-ion Tamer GEN 3 offers improved networking to enable users to customise their directions solution and group sensing nodes into zones – this is especially useful for large or complex installations.
The system provides extended connectivity options for integration with the Battery Management System (BMS) via relays and Modbus TCP/IP.
- Early Warning
- Advanced algorithms provide the earliest detection of Lithium-ion battery off-gassing to allow early intervention of catastrophic thermal runaway events.
- Increased System Visibility
- Fast and simple configuration and monitoring via user interface software reduces commissioning and setup costs.
- Lower Maintenance Cost
- Calibration-free detection with extended product lifetime, reduces overall cost of ownership and maintenance.
- Enhanced Environmental Monitoring
- Temperature and humidity detection at each detection node provides granular environmental monitoring of the protected space.
- Improved Event Data Logging
- Increased storage capabilities of the controller gather extensive event logging for more insight during post-event evaluation.
Li-ion Tamer GEN 3 is a versatile solution that accommodates a variety of lithium-ion battery systems. Typically, a Li-ion Tamer will consist of the following:
- Monitoring sensors installed at the battery racks to monitor off-gas events.
- Reference sensors installed to monitor the ambient environment and air inlets to prevent false positive signals.
- 1 or more hubs installed local to their respective zone of sensors.
- Controller and Ethernet switch for aggregating sensor signals (optional PoE switches for distributing power to the system).
Small systems require a maximum of 12 sensors per Li-ion Tamer system.
Note: Architecture is only valid for the Hub, Direct Power (LT-ACC-HUB-PWR).
Medium systems require between 1 and 15 hubs per Li-ion Tamer system and require an Ethernet switch (PoE optional) that connects hubs to the controller.
Large systems require more than 15 hubs per Li-ion Tamer system and both standard and PoE Ethernet switches to connect the hubs to the controller.
Setup and Maintenance
The system is set up and commissioned by connecting to the controller via the TCP/IP port. Li-ion Tamer GEN 3’s software interface simplifies system installation, commissioning and maintenance activities and enhanced system visibility and error tracking saves time and money by clearly and automatically identifying sensor alarm and fault conditions.
The sensors are calibration-free and have comparable lifetime to that of the ESS battery system and the gas sensor’s response can be easily verified with a simple test. To confirm operation, sensors can be activated with a bottle of battery off-gassing compounds (Diethyl Carbonate, DEC).
Li-ion Tamer GEN 3 is well suited to a variety of different industries and applications. These include:
- Stationary Battery Energy Storage
- This includes applications such as containerised/modular systems, built environment systems and residential systems.
- Data Centres
- Used for battery uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) and other battery backup systems.
- For applications such as assembly lines, formation processes or pack assembly.
- In areas such as car parks and garages, charging bays and vehicle test facilities.
- Laboratory Safety
- In environmental chambers and battery abuse testing facilities.
- Shipping and Storage
- In post-manufacturing storage facilities and battery-powered equipment.
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.