Report On Flammability Of Li-Ion Batteries In Bulk Storage

May 18th, 2013

NFPA’s Fire Protection Research Foundation has released a research report on a study of flammability of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries in bulk storage. The results of these tests will be used to define appropriate sprinkler protection in NFPA 13 for these types of products. Three types of Li-ion batteries commonly used in various consumer products were chosen for these fire tests. They were stored in rack storage configurations up to 15 ft high.

The research investigation included two test series in order to (1) evaluate the free burn fire growth patterns of three types of common Li-ion batteries stored in cardboard cartons with an external ignition scenario and (2) to evaluate the performance of sprinklers in protecting analogous commodities.

According to the test report, “… cartoned Li-ion batteries burn similarly when compared to other cartoned commodities in the early stages of fire growth”. As a result the researchers felt “… optimistic that water-based suppression systems, similar to those that are typically recommended for a variety of storage scenarios, is a viable option for Li-ion battery storage”.

The tested storage array configurations represent rack storage up to 15 ft high (3-tier storage) with (a) 15,552 Lithium-ion polymer cells, (b) 200 Lithium-ion 18V power tool battery packs, and (3) 19200 Lithium-ion 18650-format cylindrical cells. All tests were conducted in collaboration with FM Global, three videos from these fire tests can be viewed here. Additional information can be found at the FPRF web.

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