The X-Press Pearl and maybe the Maersk Honam were two high-profile victims of lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery fires aboard containerships, as reported by The Loadstar.
A serious threat
The risk posed to car carriers by electric vehicles (EVs), which are stacked high with li-ion batteries, or the risks associated with the carrying of used EVs on ro-pax ferries, is less well recognised but is nonetheless a serious threat.
Even though the ship was lost, the cause of the fire is merely suspected to have been an EV. the Felicity Ace’s loss in the Atlantic last year may serve as a wake-up call to prospective dangers.
The Cargo Incident Notification System, or CINS, has been talking about how to reduce the risks from lithium-ion batteries as a result of the increased threat, focusing mostly on the units as they are delivered in containers.
Yet, the transportation of li-ion batteries in any form is “a brutally risky business,” as Capt. Dirk Vande Velde, health, safety, security, and environment officer of MSC and VP of CINS, explained to The Loadstar. He did, however, add that there was a real risk to ro-ro vessels and that the hazard was growing as EV demand increased. Moreover, cooling the flames with a lot of water is one of the main ways to put out li-ion battery fires.
On a container ship, this is already extremely hazardous, but on a ro-ro ship, the instability caused by free surface water splashing around a cargo deck could result in the ship’s loss.
With the auto industry aiming to stop producing internal combustion engine automobiles by 2030, demand for EVs is growing year after year. So, when EV production is expanded, the danger will rise yearly.
The difficulty with lithium-ion batteries, according to Capt. Vande Velde is that the heat produced by a malfunctioning battery or cell can quickly rise to extremely high temperatures of more than 800 degrees Celsius.
Rapid fire spread
Generally, the separator between the positive and negative electrodes has failed, and as a result, the battery is effectively short-circuiting, causing the chemicals in the electrolyte to heat up quickly.
If there are other EVs around, there is a possibility of thermal runaway, in which other cars’ batteries mimic the initial chemical reaction and quickly reach temperatures that can melt a vessel’s structure. This happens when nearby combustible material is heated, which will cause a fire to spread quickly.
Li-ion battery fires are nearly impossible to put out once thermal runaway has been reached, and they frequently result in complete catastrophe, as with the Felicity Ace accident from the previous year.
Older or refurbished batteries may not be of the same quality and could offer a bigger risk, according to experts, including Capt. Vande Velde and his colleagues at CINS. Moreover, the charge level might have an impact, with a high charge posing a greater risk.
Read the full article here.
Did you subscribe to our newsletter?
It’s free! Click here to subscribe!
Source: The Loadstar