If you own a laptop or cell phone, chances are these devices are powered by increasingly popular lithium-ion batteries, which refer to a family of battery chemistries using a flammable electrolyte. The potential fire hazards of these devices and related suppression methods led today's "high hazard challenges" track at the Suppression, Detection and Signaling Research and Applications Conference (SUPDET) in Orlando.
R. Thomas Long of Exponent, an engineering consulting firm, provided details on the first phase of a Fire Protection Research Foundation project that identified and assessed the life cycle hazards of these batteries. The project's second phase included fire tests with three types of lithium-ion batteries in storage settings and suppression methods. SUPDET presenter Christopher Wieczorek of FM Global outlined some key test results, noting that similar initial fire growth rates occurred for all three commodities. Future research will need to determine the effects of large-scale tests of these batteries. The Foundation anticipates the release of the Phase II report by April.
Check out the NFPA Journal feature outlining NFPA's response to storage and safety concerns of lithium-ion batteries.