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UL Targets Lithium-Ion Battery Fires

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Elizabeth M
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Re: Suprised UL is not already involved
Elizabeth M   8/6/2013 1:34:02 PM
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I know what you mean, Lou, it seems like there has to be an incident with serious consequences before companies improve certain aspects of their products or, in the case of the airline industry, airplanes. But in all fairness, perhaps they weren't aware that there was potential for such problems in the first place. This is where more careful and attentive design with anything, especially lithium-ion batteries, must come into play.

tekochip
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Platinum
Re: A Good Vent
tekochip   8/6/2013 1:51:23 PM
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I made a careless mistake and paid for in seconds.  The cell energetically disassembled without the slightest hint that it was aggravated with me.  As if the chemical burns weren't bad enough, the freed lithium also ignited, so I had to figure out if I wanted to wash my eyes out first or put out the little fires scattered across my workbench.


Elizabeth M
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Re: A Good Vent
Elizabeth M   8/6/2013 1:53:57 PM
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Oh my gosh, that sounds horrible. I hope you are OK. I take it you have learned alot from this situation and I guess having some kind of guidelines or test to prevent such a thing in the future is something you would welcome. Take care!

tekochip
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Platinum
Re: A Good Vent
tekochip   8/6/2013 2:26:16 PM
Always wear your safety glasses in the lab.

 

I washed my eyes out first and just a few minor burns on my neck and face.

D Hambley
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Silver
Is UL's indenting test valid?
D Hambley   8/6/2013 5:58:27 PM
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I really think UL has missed the point on this one. One of the mysteries concerning L-ion cell failures is why L-ion cells short in the first place! This "indenting test" which forces a short to make it fail will NOT test to see if a cell has been designed and built to avoid shorts. All it does is to test whether a cell overheats AFTER this mysterious short. It's like UL is saying, "it's OK to have a cell which mysteriously shorts. After a forced short though, we want to ensure that it doesn't overheat." I say go after the cause, not the result.

MIROX
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Platinum
Packaging
MIROX   8/7/2013 4:57:34 AM
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I think it is great that someone be it UL or who ever can come up with some safety test, not just for Li Battery but for ANY battery.

From experience I also think that the entire "package" needs to be evaluated and tested, as for example I have seen more than one Golf Cart where the entire vehicle burned down, just because one battery wire was having too high a resistance and caused enough heat to not just melt a Lead-alloy post but ignite what ever was next to it, which in turn burned down the entire vehicle.

Other example may be the few Fisker cars, that burned for what ever reason, but one of them was apparently short in "cooling fan motor" that burned off entire 1/2 of front end of the car.

So NOT having easily flammable materials next to "potential" ignition source, be it extreme heat or spark, is also somthing about which engineers need to think about and design in appropriate safety.

I.e. if battery fails, for what ever reason, the device, be it computer or a car, should not be a total loss as a result !

Elizabeth M
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Re: A Good Vent
Elizabeth M   8/7/2013 7:58:38 AM
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That sounds like good advice, tekochip--in fact, it sounds a bit like a no brainer! But I guess an experienced engineer might get lazy sometimes with safety? I'm personally not an engineer and don't do a lot of work in a lab situation, so I wouldn't know, but I guess if you do something every day you might think you can slack a bit with the safety precautions. It's good to remind people not to! Glad you came out of the accident OK.

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Indentation
Charles Murray   8/7/2013 8:34:05 PM
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The indentation tests used by UL bring to mind the GM battery solution of 2012. After a post-crash fire, GM beefed up the vehicle, adding a cross-bar structure and longitudinally-oriented members around the battery. They did this, despite the fact that the Volt fire was actually caused by spilling of coolant on a circuit board, not by indentation. Many people scratched their heads and asked why GM was beefing up the battery so much. Maybe the UL indentation test provides us a glimpse of their thinking.

Ralphy Boy
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Platinum
Re: A Good Vent
Ralphy Boy   8/8/2013 4:45:49 PM
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Around here we call 'extreme prejudice' 'spontaneous disassembly with report'. Which meets the rough definition of an explosion...

This is not so common for most consumer level single cell/small plastic pack applications, but we have tested to failure a few designs that absolutely go... BOOM!

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: A Good Vent
Charles Murray   8/8/2013 6:00:27 PM
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As I always say, we've got smart readers around here. I had never heard of "rupture with extreme prejudice" nor "spontaneous diassembly with report." But I know those phrases now. Thank you for adding to my collection of engineering stoicisms.

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