What would you do if your phone battery caught fire? Although it is, thankfully, not a common occurrence, it does happen and can cause serious injury and damage to property (not just your phone).
Who can forget the disastrous launch of the Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 in early 2017 in which their batteries overheated and had to be recalled? And every few months, there’s a news story of phones or other battery-operated devices exploding to keep it fresh in our memories.
The modern world is full of portable electronic devices, all powered by Lithium-Ion batteries. Found in mobile phones and tablet devices, they’re also used in laptops, drones, power tools, toys, electric scooters and hoverboards, to name just a few. As these devices become more common—and more powerful—the potential for such fires increases in many everyday situations.
How Does A Battery Fire Start?
There are three main ways for a fire to start in a lithium battery:
- Physical damage or impact
- Heat exposure
When these become critical, the electrolytes in the battery cell start a chemical reaction that produces flammable gases, and when the critical oxygen-gas mix is reached with sufficient internal heat generation, the device will burst into flames.
These problems are exacerbated by the use of cheaper, poorly manufactured replacement batteries. More prone to failures caused by physical damage, they also generally don’t have overcharge protection, and the same goes for replacement chargers too.
The cheaper options generally don’t have the same safety standards or perform as well. In all aspects, it’s more beneficial to pay a little extra.
How Do You Extinguish A Battery Fire?
The simple answer is not very easily. Testing has shown that typical water, powder, and foam fire extinguishers are not effective at extinguishing a lithium battery fire.
That’s why a new type of fire extinguisher was needed.
The Lith-Ex from Fire Chief is the world’s first fire extinguisher designed specifically for use on lithium-ion battery fires. And best of all, it’s actually manufactured in Great Britain.
Using a non-toxic and revolutionary extinguishing agent, AVD (Aqueous Vermiculite Dispersion) is deployed as a mist which creates a film over the surface which instantly dries to create an oxygen barrier, cools and prevents re-ignition.
While the Lith-Ex fire extinguisher is the only one which is safe to use on a lithium battery up to 62Wh, it’s also suitable for Class A fires (wood, paper, cloth) and live electrical equipment up to 35kV too.
At present there is no standard for extinguishing lithium batteries, however, the Lith-Ex fire extinguisher is manufactured in accordance with BS 6165:2002 for aerosol extinguishers.
In fact, it even won a new product innovation award in 2016.
Where Should I Have a Lith-Ex Fire Extinguisher?
Essentially, wherever you have devices powered by lithium batteries, you may benefit from having one of these battery fire extinguishers. Suitable for small fires, extinguishing these high-risk fires when they’re small prevents them from escalating, causing damage and increasing the risk to life.
Typically, the home and workplace are full of these devices. They are also ideally suited to confined spaces such as hotel rooms, vehicles, public transport, and aviation, marine and leisure facilities. Additionally, these are perfect for where batteries are stored, such as goods distribution, battery collection bins, battery recycling locations, battery charging stations and many other scenarios.
Compact and lightweight, these can be stored anywhere, and they are supplied with a handy slimline bracket to install on a wall or inside a cabinet. Maintenance-free, these have a three-year service life.