Battery Fire Testing
Fires with Batteries
Since their utilization has increased rapidly in recent years, fires with batteries have become one of the major concerns in the fire safety industry. Battery packs are currently used in a number of vehicle types, varying from hoverboards to delivery trucks. At the same time, technologies such as Lithium-Ion based batteries have been noticed to be challenging from the fire safety point of view. This refers to burning characteristics and combustion products as well as the effect on firefighting technologies and manual fire-fighting tactics.
The increased usage of batteries has also affected many industries. Battery packs have become an essential part of the products and create risks for the production, storage or testing areas. In many cases, building codes do not consider new risks caused by battery storages or charge stations.
FTIR & Measurement of HRR with Lithium-Ion Batteries
IFAB is one of the few test laboratories worldwide owning a robust and mobile FTIR (Fourier-transform Infrared Spectroscopy) device for field application. It is capable of measuring the combustion gases and products of Lithium-Ion battery fires. IFAB has developed its own measurement procedure and is now accredited for it. The special equipment is qualified for measuring with elevated temperatures and can gauge concentration levels that are typically produced with traction batteries. Usually, hydrogen fluoride (HF) is the biggest concern of fire safety professionals. However, there are many other gases involved that are either corrosive, toxic or both.
IFAB is also able to determine the HRR (heat release rate) of the battery packs using appropriate methods.
Test Methods – Automobile
IFAB carries out fire tests according to standards for the automobile industry; for example GB/T 31467.3, Lithium-ion traction battery pack and system for electric vehicles – Part 3: Safety requirements and test methods • E/ECE/324/Rev.2/Add.99/Rev.2, Annex 8E, Fire Resistance.
In addition to the standardized fire tests, IFAB carries out different ad hoc tests. These can be related to the fire safety of research & development areas or equipment such as engine test stands or car battery storages. Ad hoc tests are always tailor-made for the specific individual risk.
It is also commonly known that the health and safety of personnel working closely with batteries or electric driven vehicles is a major concern in case of fire. IFAB offers consultancy for this topic.
Test Methods – Rail
Currently, there are no standardized test methods for rail applications. However, the use of Lithium-Ion battery packs – for example as auxiliary systems, traction batteries or in combination with fuel cells – is becoming more common.
IFAB is also well experienced in carrying out fire tests using performance-based design methods to define the best possible fire mitigation methods.
Test Methods – Others
IFAB has carried out several fire tests with batteries as ad hoc basis. These are usually predicated on performance-based fire safety design being associated to the risks related to buildings or tunnel & metro (underground facilities). The tests are typically part of recognizing the fire risk, quantifying the fire risk (HRR, smoke volume & toxicity) and/ or testing the performance of chosen firefighting technologies.
IFAB has actively participated in the research of Lithium-Ion battery fire safety, e.g. different measurement methods for battery fires have been implemented.
IFAB is currently working for the SUVEREN research project, which focuses on the safety of new energy carriers in underground spaces.