Nobel launches fire protection for lithium-ion battery energy storage systems21 June 2021

Nobel Fire Systems has launched a fire protection solution for lithium-ion battery energy storage systems (BESS), incorporating prevention, containment, and backup cooling measures. The system has three stages: prevention, containment and cooling.

First, Nobel was recently been appointed by Xtralis, a Honeywell company, to be a UK distributor of Li-on Tamer, a lithium-on battery rack monitoring system designed to provide an alert to ‘off-gas’ events that occur early in the failure mode of lithium-ion batteries, well in advance of smoke detection and traditional flammable gas detection. When the systems’ sensors detect off-gas, it immediately and automatically communicates with the BESS battery management system (BMS) to shut down the affected battery stacks to help prevent thermal runaway. According to Nobel, in the majority of lithium-ion battery off-gassing events, Li-on Tamer should prevent the need for any further fire protection measures.

Second, notwithstanding successful deployment of the Li-on Tamer system and shutdown of power by the BMS, there is no guarantee the affected batteries will not continue to rise in temperature to the point of so called ‘thermal runaway’, which is a self-perpetuating chain reaction where excessive heat keeps creating more heat, potentially spreading from one battery cell to the next and creating a fire condition. This is a risk inherent to lithium-ion batteries, according to Nobel. In the event of thermal runaway, smoke will be detected, triggering the containment stage of the Nobel fire protection solution; that is, deployment of the Stat-X condensed aerosol fire suppression system for rapid knockdown of the nascent fire with a view to avoiding propagation. Nobel is its exclusive UK & Ireland distributor.

Third, the very nature of lithium-ion batteries means there is a certain element of randomness to how any given battery cell reacts once it has been damaged, be it the nature or extent of off-gassing, temperature increase, fire condition, or propagation from cell to cell. There is also the potential for explosion if left unchecked. Also, lithium-ion battery fires are at risk of ‘re-flash’, minutes, hours or even days later having seemingly been put out. As such, Nobel recommends a back-up cooling option in the event of fire propagation, specifically a Watermist system with deluge misting nozzles located internally within the BESS. The system can be linked directly to a water supply such as a dedicated tank, alternatively a fire brigade pumping-in breech can be installed externally on the BESS container.

Nobel has installed fire protection in several lithium-ion battery energy storage systems, most prominently a 41MW grid-scale in-building facility in the West Midlands on behalf of BESS integrator

Operations Engineer

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