Ecobatt delivers global best practice for lithium battery safety

lithium battery safety

A quiet revolution on wheels is gaining momentum in Australian suburbs. The rise of electric bikes (e-bikes) and electric scooters (e-scooters) is shifting how Australians traverse their cities and towns.

This burgeoning industry not only signals a shift towards more sustainable urban mobility but also introduces new challenges in the realms of safety and waste management, in particular lithium-ion batteries.

Australia’s engagement with micromobility, (a relatively new term, comprising different transportation technologies, such as e-scooters and e-bikes) is not just a fleeting trend but a robust economic contributor.

A landmark study by We Ride Australia reveals that the e-scooter segment alone contributed $728 million into the economy in 2022, with 3.6 million users taking to the streets. The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) leads the charge with the highest per capita consumption of e-scooters, spotlighting a growing enthusiasm that spans across age groups, particularly among those aged 18-34, who represent 35 per cent of the user base.

Lithium-ion batteries are proven safe when handled with care and within manufacturer specifications. In rare circumstances if overcharged, they can overheat resulting in a fire. Fire and Rescue NSW reported a startling rise in fires caused by these devices recently, recording an average of six lithium-ion battery-related incidences a week in 2023-24. This trend underscores a crucial need for enhanced safety measures at home and at work.

lithium battery safety
Lithium-ion Safety Drums are designed to contain used, recalled, or potentially damaged batteries that may be prone to thermal incidents. Image: Ecobatt.

In response to the growing safety concerns associated with micromobility batteries, industry leaders and safety experts are advocating for rigorous industry standards and innovative safety solutions.

David Cooke, from Ecobatt Safety, anticipates that Federal and State Government agencies will soon make recommendations for the safe storage, charging and disposal of electric scooters. The guidelines are expected to address a need for standardised safety protocols to mitigate risks associated with micromobility devices to reduce fire incidences.

Building on its safety premise, Ecobatt offers UN-rated Lithium-ion Safety Drums, available in 53-litre and 62-litre capacities.

“As we observed developments across the globe, it became clear that integrating advanced safety technology with our battery recycling efforts was essential,” David says.

“These Lithium-ion Safety Drums represent a significant advancement in the safe handling and storage of micromobility batteries.”

The specialist battery drums are designed to contain used, recalled, or potentially damaged batteries that may be prone to thermal incidents. They are suited for secure storage of used and new lithium-ion batteries for businesses specialising in electronic repairs, and any other retailers or commercial entities dealing with lithium-ion batteries and battery powered products.

The Ecobatt Lithium Safety Drums also suit work sites, schools and universities, apartment complexes and residential units, offering peace of mind when it comes to protecting physical assets and the safekeeping of micromobility lithium-ion batteries.

The drums are constructed from 0.7 millimetre-thick steel and reinforced with structural ribs. They’re engineered to withstand severe impacts and stress, maintaining integrity under various transport and storage conditions.

David says this durability is vital in preventing physical breaches that could expose the batteries held in rare circumstance to external threats and contribute to internal failure.

Danish company InsPyro, a consultancy company in the field of high-temperature processes, tested the drums to confirm their efficacy and dependability.

Tests found that the flame-arresting filter incorporated into the drum’s lid confines a potential lithium-ion battery fire to the interior of the drum. This lid is engineered to release pressure from internal gases. The drum’s design and added vent prevents any flames from passing through.

The overpressure system in these drums consists of a pair of metal plates integrated with a flame-arresting filter. This system acts as a critical safety valve, allowing the safe release of gases that could build up inside of the drum during a thermal event, thus preventing pressure build-up that could lead to a potential uncontrolled and harmful energy release. This feature also blocks any external ignition sources from reaching the drum’s contents, effectively isolating the lithium-ion batteries in a controlled environment.

The internal non-conductive epoxy coating of the drums adds another layer of safety. The coating protects the drum’s material from corrosive elements that could weaken its structure over time, thereby extending the life of the drum and enhancing the safety of its contents. The drums are also hermetically sealed with a polyurethane (PU) seal and a steel closing ring, ensuring that no hazardous materials escape into the environment and no external contaminants enter the drum.

lithium battery safety
CellBlock Safe Charge Sleeves – the ‘E Series’ are a compact solution to safely store and charge micromobility batteries. Image: Ecobatt

For those wanting a more compact solution to safely store and charge their micromobility batteries, there are CellBlock Safe Charge Sleeves – the ‘E Series’, designed for protection of high-energy lithium-ion batteries for devices ranging from drones to e-bikes, catering to 800WHr capacities.

Ecobatt Safety is the exclusive Australian and New Zealand distributor of CellBlock Fire Containment Solutions, USA. These sleeves feature a multi-layered FireShield composite material and have been tested by Aeroblaze, a heavy anti-air unit used by the United States, and aviation service AccuFleet. 

David says the sleeves are proven to contain battery fires and potential explosions in lithium-ion battery assemblies even at full charge.

For larger scale multi set charging needs, Ecobatt offers the CellBlock Safe Charge Battery Racks, equipped with fire-resistant barriers and CellBlockEX’s fire suppression system to prevent a spread of a battery fire between charging bays.

Constructed with durable powder-coated steel and aluminium, and a rechargeable fire containment and extinguishing system, the racks are best in industry, equipped with heavy-duty locking wheels to ensure safe, mobile storage. Complementing the racks is the CellBlock Safe Charge FireShield, a textile cover tested to withstand temperatures of more than 1000 degrees Celsius and safeguarding a thermal runaway event while providing convenient access to the charging interfaces. The shield is included with each rack.

“The range of CellBlock products Ecobatt offers, exemplifies our commitment to combining the latest technology in materials advancement and high-tech safety products for not only the evolving landscape of micromobility but also other high energy lithium-ion battery equipment applications, such as medical, commercial and construction industries,” David says.

“As Australia continues to navigate its micromobility journey, the focus must not only remain on promoting these environmentally friendly transport options but also on ensuring safe charging, storage and end-of-life recycling options for all users and the community at large.

“The integration of innovative safety technologies like those from Ecobatt Safety represents a critical step towards securing a sustainable and safe future for micromobility and all lithium-ion batteries used.”

David says the path forward involves an in-depth collaborative effort among manufacturers, safety experts and policymakers to guide consumers to foster a culture of safety with the correct equipment tailored to suit most applications. 

For more information, visit: www.ecobatt.net

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Ecocycle Group invests $30m in lithium battery recycling plant

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