LithFire-X LLC, a Detroit-based specialty fire and safety management company, has been awarded patent protection for a fire suppression system specifically designed to contain and extinguish lithium ion battery fires in electric energy storage configurations.
Electric energy storage applications hold energy generated in a number of ways (grid, wind, solar, etc.) for use at a later time. These systems rely on a storage medium to contain the energy. One of the more effective mediums in use now and increasingly in the future, is lithium ion batteries. Lithium ion (Li ion) batteries are excellent for this application and are expected to be used on world-wide scale.
While Li-Ion and other batteries technologies employed in electric energy storage are generally safe and offer enormous benefits, they do have a down side. They are subject to a growing fire concern. There have been a number of recent fire events around the world, involving lithium ion batteries, that have raised a red flag regarding lithium ion battery safety.
The fast-spreading, high-energy fires pose a threat to human safety and possess the potential to destroy the very expensive storage systems themselves.
“Energy storage fires are a danger to human safety and result in enormous financial loss,” said Ron Butler, Partner at LithFire-X. “We responded to the fire threat with a proprietary, state-of-the-art approach to fire suppression.” Unlike current fire suppression systems that only eliminate visible flame; the LithFire-X system localizes suppression down to individual battery cells. This allows for individual cell cooling which interrupts the burning process and prevents the entire battery from being damaged by the suppressant or fire. “Our system isolates cells and prevents fire spread, again protecting adjacent cells, and the entire system,” said Butler. “Existing suppression systems simply don’t do this.”
“Many companies that employ and insure these systems recognize the risks associated with the use of lithium ion batteries for energy storage. We are currently working with a number of large battery manufacturers, utility companies, and the United States military to protect their assets,” said Butler.