Lithium-ion (also known as Li-ion) batteries are used across the superyacht industry from electrically powered water toys like e-foils to the latest superyacht electric tenders, e-scooters, mobile phones, and more. However, Li-ion batteries pose a potentially dangerous risk to all of those onboard, including the superyacht itself.
In this article, Polaris Yacht Supply explore the risks of carrying Lithium-ion batteries onboard and how best to deal with a fire onboard caused by one.
What are the risks?
Due to the large energy storage capacity-to-weight and size ratio, Li-ion batteries are extremely volatile under stress. Stress to an Li-ion battery can be caused by accidental damage, misuse, or incorrect charging. The tell-tale signs that an Li-ion battery is going to fail include the battery appearing to swell or bulge as well as the battery being too hot to touch. Once a battery fails, the cells usually start to give off a highly toxic smoke, often before flames are visible, leading to thermal runaway.
What is thermal runaway?
Thermal runaway is the chemical process when the Li-ion battery cells enter an uncontrollable, self-heating state. This self-heating state produces heat and flammable toxic chemical gases extremely quickly. Battery cell temperatures rise extremely fast (milliseconds), causing exceptionally high temperatures over 400⁰C. Once thermal runaway has begun, there is no way of extinguishing the Li-ion battery other than with an AVD fire extinguisher or Li-ion fire suppression system.
Can you extinguish a lithium-ion battery fire?
If the time comes when you need to extinguish a Li-ion battery fire, you cannot use water, foam, or powder. Using these will offer the similar effects to using water on an oil fire! You must use an AVD fire extinguisher. Without an AVD extinguisher or Li-ion fire suppression kit onboard, your only hope is to abandon ship.
An AVD fire extinguisher contains Aqueous Vermiculite Dispersion, a revolutionary extinguishing agent that is designed to stop Li-ion battery fires quickly. AVD is both chemically and physically inert and is also suitable for electrical fires as well. It is also non-toxic to both aquatic and plant life, so it is perfectly suitable for maritime environment.
As Li-ion battery fires are so new to the world of firefighting, regulations across the UK, EU, and USA have been very slow to catch on. Therefore, there are currently no regulations for testing AVD fire extinguishers on Li-ion battery fires for the USA, UK, or EU. However, our manufacturer has completed rigorous in house and third-party testing of the AVD agent to ensure the extinguishers are suitable for Li-ion battery fires. Testing reports are available on request.
AVD fire extinguishers are certified for Class A fires, and are Kitemarked and MED approved for this.
Where you can get an AVD extinguisher
Polaris Yacht Supply have recently announced a new partnership with the leading manufacturer of AVD and Li-ion Fire Suppression Systems for their Superyacht Safety range. AVD fire extinguishers are available in a variety of sizes to cope with an array of Li-ion battery capacities. If you have any type of electrically powered water toy onboard like e-foils, or electric scooters, or any number of Li-ion batteries onboard (including mobile phones, and tablets in crew, and/or guest cabins), it is highly recommended installing AVD fire extinguishers or a Li-ion Fire Suppression System to protect the safety and lives of all those onboard.
Please contact Polaris Yacht Supply for further information, availability, and pricing on:
Tel: +44 (0) 7399 894622
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