New solution to suppress battery storage fire, thermal runaway unveiled by Fike


From pv magazine Global

Preventing thermal runaway – a rapid and dangerous release of heat and gases which can lead to fires in lithium-ion batteries – is the big conundrum plaguing both electric mobility and stationary storage industries. With battery thermal incidents a relatively new phenomenon, companies are wrapping their heads around suppression methods and the best ways of dealing with self-sustaining battery fires that are difficult to put out.

The latest company that claims to have found a solution to this issue is US-based Fike Corp. Its Fike Blue solution is billed as “the first tested and patented solution that not only suppresses the fire but also stops cascading thermal runaway.”

Fike has developed a tank with a liquid that has a boiling point of more than 400 C without breaking down.  When a heat anomaly is detected, a releasing panel activates the cylinder to flow Fike Blue throughout the piping network. However, only in the module where the fire is located will the nozzle open and discharge the liquid, immersing the cells and absorbing the heat. The temperatures for all cells dramatically decrease over the course of several minutes until the event and chance for re-ignition is over.

Fike said it has various ways to detect thermal events in battery energy storage systems.

“Depending on the users’ goals, we can use multiple detection options including industrial gas detection, Fike Distributed Temperature Sensing (DTS) cables, traditional spot detection, and more,” a company spokesperson told pv magazine.

For these detection methods, a SHP Pro or Fike Cheetah Xi fire panel is necessary, connecting to the battery management system (BMS) to halt charging circuits upon thermal event detection and activate local notification systems.

Today, water-based fire suppression systems are touted as most effective at cooling a battery fire. However, while they can cool down the battery and help prevent the spread of fire, they cannot extinguish battery fires until the energy is dissipated and accompanied by the release of dangerous off-gases. The possibility of re-ignition is not eliminated.

Fike’s solution uses significantly less liquid than sprinklers and firefighters, reducing runoff into the environment. The agent is said to be “far less conductive than water, as all tests performed either by Fike or by a third party have yet to witness the shorting of any cells.”

Third-party testing by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) showed that Fike Blue suppressed thermal runaway heat within five minutes, preventing further cell spread. While it has not specified the chemical composition of its agent, Fike said that its does not fall under the family of PFAS. It said its patented liquid can be stored for at least five years at 25 C without the formation of precipitates or sediment.

“Fike is the only safety solutions provider in the world who can perform a Battery Hazard Analysis (BHA) with Fike Blue, ensuring you’ll pass the UL 9540A test [test method for evaluating thermal runaway fire propagation in battery energy storage systems],” Fike said.

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