Another Grid Scale Battery Fire “Incident”

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

h/t observa; Given the rate just a handful of present day grid scale batteries seem to suffer meltdowns or spontaneously explode, imagine the fun we’ll all have in the future, when grid scale battery storage is scaled up.

The world’s largest lithium ion battery is down, again

The Moss Landing Energy Storage Facility Phase II set off fire alarms that activated a fault water suppression system, which – again – set off a cascading set of events that resulted in roughly ten battery packs melting down.

FEBRUARY 16, 2022 JOHN FITZGERALD WEAVER

Sunday night, February 13th, the Vistra Energy Moss Landing Energy Storage Facility Phase II set off fire alarms just after 8 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. Upon arrival, the local fire department found roughly ten battery racks that were completely melted. The fire department representatives said that the fire was extinguished.

Vistra has suggested that the event might be a similar event to the September incident that took down Phase I of the facility. According to a statement from Vistra, that incident involved a cascading series of events which may have started with the failure of a ball bearing in a fan.

The suspected bearing failure is presumed to have set off the very early smoke detection apparatus (VESDA), which in turn armed the heat suppression system. Vistra stated that due to ‘failures of a small number of couplings on flexible hoses and pipes’, water sprayed directly onto additional battery racks, causing short circuiting and arcing, which damaged the batteries and made more smoke. The additional smoke set off more alarms and caused even more water to spray from the failed couplings.

Read more: https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2022/02/16/the-worlds-largest-lithium-ion-battery-is-down-again/

At least the fire suppression system seemed to work this time, unlike the big Geelong fire last year, though spraying water on high amperage live battery terminals suggests the suppression system needs a little work.

Halon or CO2 might be better choices, at least they don’t conduct electricity. But Lithium is awfully reactive, so gas suppression systems might not have the right chemistry for dousing a fire involving Lithium compounds.

In any case I don’t like gas fire suppression systems. I’ve experienced the terror of being accidentally locked inside a server room with a Halon fire suppression system, and no way to open the door until someone noticed my predicament, so its fair to say I’m a little prejudiced against fire suppression systems which kill people. There was a solitary dusty respirator hanging inside an emergency box with a broken latch. My guess is the respirator wouldn’t have done much for me in an emergency.

With California and Britain committing to grid scale battery storage in a big way, and other nations at least toying with the idea, I suspect coming years will provide plenty more opportunities for me to write about newsworthy battery events.

Update (EW): A few people have suggested Halon wouldn’t do much, because batteries have their own oxidiser. Halon does not deny oxygen to fires, it changes the chemistry of the fire. Having said that, there is still a good chance it would be completely useless.

How does Halon work?
Contrary to popular belief, Halon does not remove oxygen from the air, but rather reacts with all elements of a fire. When Halon is discharged, it breaks the chemical chain reaction. This accounts for most of its fire fighting properties. The other properties come from the cooling effect of the expanding gas. Because of this, Halon can be safely used in an occupied space.

… 

Read more: https://www.agas.com/us/resources/faqs-fire-protection/
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February 17, 2022 10:04 am

WAIT until they try large-scale energy storage using – high pressure air/gas tanks!!

Bryan A
Reply to  _Jim
February 17, 2022 11:44 am

Now now now…CAN’T use a CO2 extinguishing system. Battery failure happens often enough that they would wind up with a CO2 footprint the size of Sasquatch

Prjindigo
Reply to  Bryan A
February 17, 2022 12:55 pm

If they were in an actual municipality they’d be required by law to use it.

Reply to  _Jim
February 17, 2022 12:26 pm

in other news, Tesla just got another recall, but not about battery.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  _Jim
February 17, 2022 4:06 pm

Oh the humanity!

Robert W Turner
Reply to  _Jim
February 17, 2022 7:10 pm

CAES is probably the best energy storage solution and it can be done in natural underground reservoirs.

Bryan A
Reply to  Robert W Turner
February 17, 2022 9:15 pm

Now THAT’S a lot of hot air…
The best energy storage is Hydrocarbons
Made by the sun and stored by nature for millions of years
The second best energy storage is Yellow Cake.
Made and stored by nature
The third best energy storage is H2O Pumped Storage
Excellent usage for the expired solid hydrocarbon open pits

Dean
Reply to  Bryan A
February 18, 2022 5:53 pm

The last bit only works if there are suitable high and low reservoirs, which are close enough to have the required slope to achieve generation without excessive pipe energy losses.

Having looked at several projects involving old coal mines they just don’t work that well.

One was an underground which was right next to main power lines, had both upper and lower reservoirs already in place, the vertical pipe already in place and lower pumps. And that was still not economic.

Bryan A
Reply to  Dean
February 19, 2022 2:57 pm

Still. Better than compressed air and far less volatility potential

Foo Bar
Reply to  Robert W Turner
February 20, 2022 6:17 pm

Underground hydrogen storage is much cheaper than CAES or pumped hydro when you need long term seasonal storage like provided by natural gas now. And industry already uses it at low scale.

Tom Halla
February 17, 2022 10:05 am

Large batteries are basically slow explosives. When one has both parts of a chemical reaction packaged together, runaway reactions are nearly inevitable.

Doonman
Reply to  Tom Halla
February 17, 2022 11:13 am

All energy is explosive when converted from potential to kinetic. It is the number of ergs available that determines the size of the explosion. That’s why concentrating huge numbers of batteries in a small area is a fools errand. Everything is fine and dandy until its not.

Joel O'Bryan(@joelobryan)
Reply to  Doonman
February 17, 2022 12:43 pm

High explosives (like TNT, C4, Semtex, RDX) by definition detonate at supersonic speeds so containment is not necessary. Anything else when it burns it does so slowly enough (like blackpowder) that containment is necessary to build pressure until the containment vessel mechanically fails resulting in high speed projecta and an overpressure shock wave.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
February 17, 2022 5:34 pm

Anything else when it burns it does so slowly enough (like blackpowder) that containment is necessary to build pressure …

Smokeless powder similarly burns in open air. However, the rate of burning is increased by pressure, hence when confined to the chamber of a firearm with a lead plug in the barrel (called a bullet), the burning rate is explosive.

Joel O'Bryan(@joelobryan)
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
February 17, 2022 9:11 pm

I’m an avid reloader. Yes, smokeless powders are fun. GunsRfun. I have lots of everything, speeds, manufacturers, to quantity. My smokeless powder locker would make any reloading store owner blush with envy.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
February 18, 2022 7:01 am

Who blushes when they’re thinking, ‘Man, I’ve got to build and fill one of these!’?

Plebney
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
February 17, 2022 9:57 pm

Smokeless power can detonate under some circumstances unfortunately causing serious damage to firearms, not to mention people.

Reply to  Plebney
February 18, 2022 7:02 am

Never, in the manner you describe.

jorgekafkazar
Reply to  ATheoK
February 18, 2022 2:37 pm

Plebney described nothing.

Reply to  jorgekafkazar
February 19, 2022 8:00 am

Smokeless power can detonate under some circumstances”

Plebney describes smokeless powder detonating.
An insidious lie to intentionally cause fear and impugn the use of smokeless powder.

Smokeless powder burns.
Each type of smokeless powder burns at specific rates based upon ignition, time and pressure.

Smokeless powder NEVER detonates.

“causing serious damage to firearms, not to mention people.”

Stupid people manage to blow up firearms from time to time. Even then, modern firearms are designed to release gasses away from a person using the firearm.

Injuries tend to be minor to people holding the firearm.
Any firearm that has experienced extreme over-pressures is likely ruined, subject to inspection by a legitimate gunsmith.

Vuk
Reply to  Tom Halla
February 17, 2022 11:27 am

Depriving lithium battery fire of oxygen or flooding it with water it is of no use.
Since coal mining is or will be abandoned in most of industrial world, large lithium battery stations could be located in disused mines.

Rhee
Reply to  Vuk
February 17, 2022 11:44 am

what happens when battery fire inside an old mine ignites the remaining coal in the abandoned veins, now we have yet another underground fire that can burn for decades with little recourse

Vuk
Reply to  Rhee
February 17, 2022 12:04 pm

Geothermal warming.

Mr.
Reply to  Rhee
February 17, 2022 1:31 pm

There are coal seams in various parts of the world that have been burning continuously for centuries.

Maybe that’s what started the Medieval Warm Period?

🙂

Vuk
Reply to  Mr.
February 17, 2022 1:55 pm

Definitively not the MWP, but high probability of the other MWP (Modern Warming Period) at least in the UK when blessed Margaret started closing coal mines in 1984 as the winter temperature data from the England’s largest coal mining area shows.
It looks that some of the mines’ fires have already burnt themselves out./sc

MWT-York.gif
Last edited 3 months ago by Vuk
Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Rhee
February 17, 2022 5:38 pm

… yet another underground fire that can burn for decades …

There is an underground coal fire in Australia that has been burning for thousands of years.

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/05/05/anthropogenic-global-warming-and-its-causes/

Mr.
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
February 17, 2022 6:09 pm

I think there are some in India as well?

joe
Reply to  Vuk
February 17, 2022 12:52 pm

no, no, no. please don’t do that.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Vuk
February 17, 2022 2:02 pm

lots of water in some mines – they’ll need constant pumping

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
February 17, 2022 5:45 pm

And the pyrite and marcasite commonly found in coal oxidizes to form iron sulfate and sulfuric acid (aka acid mine drainage). Sulfuric acid, being a strong acid, conducts electricity well. So, the containment area would have to be constructed so that no water would drip on, or flow through, the batteries. And to avoid corrosion, the air would have to be drawn in from the outside, and water vapor removed. Its hard to think of a worse place to place giant batteries.

jorgekafkazar
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
February 18, 2022 2:41 pm

That’s why the watermelons want to put them there.

tommyboy
Reply to  Vuk
February 17, 2022 6:49 pm

The Colorado River Valley has at least 25 coal fires burning within 10 miles of the small town of New Castle, Colorado. One has been burning since February 18, 1896, when the Vulcan Mine exploded, killing 49 men. 

Last edited 3 months ago by tommyboy
Robert W Turner
Reply to  Vuk
February 17, 2022 7:21 pm

ALB, the world’s second largest lithium producer just posted a loss in Q4. Miners are hardly making money and the metal is at an all time high and continuing to go parabolic.
I listened to the Livent earnings today and even one of the officers stated that the “low hanging fruit” globally is already in development – the reactivity of the element spreading it out thin in Earth’s crust. Lithium and other battery metals will become extremely expensive.

Jim G.
Reply to  Vuk
February 17, 2022 9:19 pm

The water isn’t to extinguish the fire, but to remove heat.
The only way to stop a class C fire is to remove the power source and then extinguish the Class A resultant fire.

Unfortunately, with a battery fire, it is the energy source.

DCE
Reply to  Vuk
February 18, 2022 9:32 am

Depending on the specific chemistry, pouring water on a lithium battery fire might be more like pouring gasoline on a fire. If there is enough lithium in a high enough concentration and there’s a heat source, the lithium can cause the water to dissociate into hydrogen and oxygen…which then burns.

Dean
Reply to  Vuk
February 18, 2022 5:59 pm

Given most old coal mines are located far from major consumer concentrations the transmission losses will be considerable.

You are going to need to inspect/maintain the batteries so any underground mine will need to be ventilated etc, using still more of the energy stored, and costing a significant amount of money.

You are going to need to pump a large amount of water from either underground or surface mines, requiring still more energy to pump and possibly treat the water if you plan on discharging. If you are not discharging then you are going to need to build storage dams at considerable cost.

Others have mentioned the safety issues resulting from the almost inevitable fires.

ozspeaksup
Reply to  Tom Halla
February 18, 2022 2:23 am

and theyre now talking a massive battery setup for nsw? as they plan to shut yet another good coalfired plant years early

Dean
Reply to  ozspeaksup
February 18, 2022 6:02 pm

And the minister in charge of our journey to the promised land thinks that if you install 700MW of renewable capacity and a 700MW battery then that is the equivalent of half of the 2800MW coal plant.

In other news, when asked how tall he was, he replied 172 kilograms.

D. J. Hawkins
February 17, 2022 10:08 am

Eric;

Your terror was entirely unfounded. Had you been locked in a room with a CO2 system, that would be a different story. Halon systems, when properly designed, will snuff out the fire but not the human occupants.

Neil Jordan
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
February 17, 2022 10:48 am

But wait – – – There is more opportunity for terror. According to EPA, the three listed Halons have Global Warming Potentials from about 5,000 to 10,000.
https://www.epa.gov/ozone-layer-protection/ozone-depleting-substances
Carbon dioxide (“carbon”) has a GWP of 1. When deciding what to use when putting out that fire, think of the children. And water produces water vapor which is even worse than “carbon”.

TonyL
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
February 17, 2022 11:09 am

Halon systems, when properly designed, will snuff out the fire but not the human occupants.
Of course. That is why the system locks the doors so nobody can get in when the halon is a risk of getting triggered.
Also of course, the properly designed system has no provision for people inside when the alarm goes off to get out. Smooooth!

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  TonyL
February 18, 2022 6:46 am

Clean agent system design does not require locking the protected space, that’s a decision by the owner. It is intended to prevent anyone creating an opening in the protected space and reducing the effectiveness of the system. You want the agent to hang around and do it’s thing. In fact, uncloseable openings are a design headache. Before you present anymore snark, know that I design these systems for a living.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  TonyL
February 18, 2022 7:57 am

Has no one heard of one-way doors? Most every public bathroom has one. Once locked you can’t get in from outside but you *can* get out from the inside. I believe its called compartmentalization.

Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
February 17, 2022 11:17 am

Halon will not snuff out a fire in a material that contains its own oxidant
Li ion batteries contain their own oxidant.

Reply to  Leo Smith
February 17, 2022 12:47 pm

They do not need air to burn! Hot stuff.

Yooper
Reply to  David Wojick
February 18, 2022 6:20 am

Isn’t that a description of solid rocket fuel?

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Leo Smith
February 18, 2022 7:03 am

There is evidence that Halon and HCFC’s can be effective in inerting the battery vent gases produced by LiON batteries. Halon and other chlorinated agents do not actually smother the fire. They interfere with the fire (oxidation reaction) at the chemical level. Here is a report done by the FAA:

Lithium Battery Gases and Inerting Effects of Halon 1301 (faa.gov)

menace
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
February 18, 2022 8:33 am

So it can suppress ignition of vent gases that have about 20% or so H2. If the burning of vent gases is the main contributor to thermal runaway it may be effective but it might also mean the internal Lithium burning would just continue at a slower rate until the Halon diffuses or depletes.

commieBob
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
February 17, 2022 12:44 pm

How do we know the system was properly designed?

Halon is not poisonous but is a simple asphyxiate. By displacing oxygen, it can cause suffocation.

A gas mask will not protect you from asphyxiation, you need a self-contained breathing apparatus.

Yooper
Reply to  commieBob
February 18, 2022 6:21 am

Like SCUBA?

TonyG
Reply to  Yooper
February 18, 2022 9:28 am

Very much like SCUBA: SCBA, only difference is it’s not designed for underwater use. Like firefighters use.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  commieBob
February 18, 2022 7:05 am

How do you know your hot water heater, car, or the jet plane you fly in are properly designed? Really, this sort of “argument” shouldn’t be seen on this site.

MarkW
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
February 18, 2022 7:40 am

A properly designed system wouldn’t lock the doors so that those inside couldn’t escape.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  MarkW
February 18, 2022 1:01 pm

Notice that Eric didn’t say he was locked in the room while the system was activated. He was simply locked in the room. In fact, if the server room is a “card-in, card-out” sort of system, it’s likely that when the first alarm goes off, the suppression system will unlock the doors.

menace
Reply to  commieBob
February 18, 2022 9:17 am

Scientific analysis, testing, and setting up design guidelines and regulation helps to insure proper design. You don’t just make wild guesses when lives are on the line.

commieBob
Reply to  menace
February 20, 2022 6:22 am

Some people do. Chernobyl comes to mind. The skywalk collapse comes to mind.

Lil-Mike
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
February 17, 2022 12:54 pm

Wrong.

Halon when heated degrades into Phosgene gas … a.k.a Mustard Gas, a WWI chemical weapon.

Halon suppresses fire by displacing oxygen … and has the odd side effect of suppressing human life.

eric
Reply to  Lil-Mike
February 17, 2022 2:52 pm

Phosgene gas is NOT mustard gas. Only the types of Halon like Halon 1011 that have chloride could become phosgene gas. The blister agent known as mustard gas is quite different.

Curious George(@moudryj)
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
February 17, 2022 1:28 pm

“Halon systems, when properly designed, will snuff out the fire but not the human occupants.”
I thought that the idea of a halon system was to suffocate the fire. But not the occupants?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Curious George
February 17, 2022 5:58 pm
D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Curious George
February 18, 2022 7:07 am

Halon interferes with the fire on a chemical level, it is not used as an oxygen displacer as CO2 is.

Streetcred
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
February 17, 2022 5:18 pm

I haven’t seen halon systems used for about 30 years … they used to be all the rage in computer installations because they didn’t damage the hardware … and then, suddenly, nobody used them again.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Streetcred
February 17, 2022 5:58 pm

Because of the ‘Ozone Scare.’ Halon is still available to recharge systems, although it is no longer manufactured.

Giorgio
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
February 18, 2022 1:49 am

Call it Ozone Scam…

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Streetcred
February 18, 2022 7:08 am

^^^What Clyde said.

John Endicott
February 17, 2022 10:18 am

In an unrelated (or is it?) story the cargo ship Felicity Ace caught fire and the crew had to abandon ship because they couldn’t contain it with the fire fighting equipment they had on board. The cargo? Volkswagen & Porshe Cars. Wonder how much of the cargo was electric cars and if that played any part in the fire?

Cargo ship carrying cars to U.S. catches fire, is adrift in mid-Atlantic without crew (nbcnews.com)

davetherealist
Reply to  John Endicott
February 17, 2022 10:55 am

crazy story. I guess all those Taycan will melt down if they can’t get this under control.

ResourceGuy
Reply to  John Endicott
February 17, 2022 11:50 am

Billowing white smoke is a clue.

HotScot
Reply to  ResourceGuy
February 17, 2022 3:43 pm

A new Pope?

Devils Tower
Reply to  John Endicott
February 17, 2022 11:57 am

I posted question on free republic, I realy want to know….

https://freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/4039207/posts

Richard Page
Reply to  John Endicott
February 17, 2022 4:02 pm

Interestingly enough, in 2019, the ‘Sincerity Ace’ – another ship of the same company caught fire and had to be towed back to Japan. On board were 3,500 Nissan cars. Apparently both ships caught fire in the same place – one of the cargo holds.

Richard Page
Reply to  Richard Page
February 17, 2022 4:15 pm

Sorry, New Years Eve 2018. The company is very unlucky with car carrying – in 2006 the ‘Cougar Ace’ had to adjust ballast at sea which resulted in it listing 60 degrees to port and eventually scrapping over $100 million in new Mazda’s.

Bob Hunter
February 17, 2022 10:18 am

Another green energy project failure you won’t read about in the MSM.

ResourceGuy
February 17, 2022 10:28 am
Tropical Lutefisk
Reply to  ResourceGuy
February 17, 2022 11:18 am

I seem to remember something from history class about hydrogen and air travel. I’m not certain because its was so long ago, but I don’t think it was a feel good story

Art Slartibartfast
Reply to  Tropical Lutefisk
February 17, 2022 1:34 pm

A special fragrance for the occasion….

4903852687_de3e5eb8f7_z.jpg
Dean
Reply to  Art Slartibartfast
February 18, 2022 6:07 pm

Coffee came out my nose…..

Joe Crawford
Reply to  ResourceGuy
February 17, 2022 11:25 am

It’s design is probably long and round, just don’t call it a blimp :<)

Retired_Engineer_Jim
Reply to  Joe Crawford
February 17, 2022 11:35 am

Because it wasn’t a blimp.

Ed Reid
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
February 17, 2022 11:48 am

It was a dirigible.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Ed Reid
February 17, 2022 6:01 pm

It was an incorrigible!

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Ed Reid
February 17, 2022 10:38 pm

There’s a Monty Python skit about this.

Bob Tisdale(@bobtisdale)
Editor
Reply to  Joe Crawford
February 17, 2022 11:43 am

“…don’t call it a blimp.” It was shape challenged.

Regards,
Bob

Gunga Din
Reply to  Bob Tisdale
February 17, 2022 3:54 pm

A “blimp” is just a big balloon.
A dirigible (zeppelin, airship, etc.) is a rigid structure carrying lots of baggage full of gas. Whether hydrogen or helium or just CAGW hot air will determine whether it crashes and burns or just crashes.
Don’t buy a ticket to ride!
Though a blimp ride, with helium, might be fun. (No Green stuff to blow up.)

Joe Crawford
Reply to  Gunga Din
February 18, 2022 11:04 am

Don’t tell Goodyear that :<)

Rhee
Reply to  Joe Crawford
February 17, 2022 11:45 am

z e p p e l i n

HotScot
Reply to  Rhee
February 17, 2022 3:44 pm

Lead……

BobM
Reply to  HotScot
February 17, 2022 5:49 pm

Led

Ghowe
Reply to  BobM
February 18, 2022 9:40 am

I had a job once where the other 2 light bulb installers left the company to mine lead and I became the Lead Led tech.

BobM
Reply to  HotScot
February 17, 2022 5:55 pm

Saw Led Zeppelin on their first US tour in January 1969 at the Filmore East in NYC. They were second billing behind Iron Butterfly. Great concert.

TonyG
Reply to  BobM
February 18, 2022 9:34 am

Do you think a Lead Zeppelin would fly?

Mythbusters made a lead balloon that flew, so probably…

Paul Hurley (aka PaulH)
Reply to  Joe Crawford
February 17, 2022 12:52 pm

There are blimps, and there are svelte blimps.

Last edited 3 months ago by Paul Hurley (aka PaulH)
Philo
Reply to  ResourceGuy
February 17, 2022 12:16 pm

The airbus CEO doesen’t know muchThe Hindenberg was a good example. A huge number very thin aluminum bags filled with very small amounts of hydrogen- maybe a hundred thousand automatic filling man very many very much smaller bags filled with antifire for from Dupont I believe
Keep digging into the numbers.
I would guess the amount of hydrogen at most 100lb. Tons of Dupont’s anti fire products

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Philo
February 17, 2022 10:39 pm

maybe a hundred thousand automatic filling man very many very much smaller bags filled with antifire for from Dupont I believe”

Umm, what?

Ghowe
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
February 18, 2022 9:51 am

It was a dope product of dupont.

niceguy
Reply to  ResourceGuy
February 17, 2022 7:10 pm

An Airbus/EADS engineer was involved in the “Clearstream Sarkozy scandal” (Clearstream is French for Alfa Bank DNS data/Trump scandal).

AGW is Not Science
February 17, 2022 10:29 am

I’m sure California, being the bleeding edge of stupidity, will build these “grid scale battery” facilities in the “wild land interface” – followed by the inevitable blaming of the fires they cause on “climate change.”

Retired_Engineer_Jim
Reply to  AGW is Not Science
February 17, 2022 11:36 am

But the grid-scale battery was a consequence of climate change (policy), so the fire was, too.

Ed Reid
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
February 17, 2022 11:48 am

😉

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
February 18, 2022 9:18 am

LOL, yes I did think that would probably become their (typical circular logic) argument!

BobM
Reply to  AGW is Not Science
February 17, 2022 6:04 pm

Is 400 MW / 1600 MWhrs really large enough to be classified as “grid scale”? Seems more like “large turbine farm scale”, no?

Dan DeLong
Reply to  BobM
February 18, 2022 10:45 am

A typical nuke or coal burner puts out about 1000 MWe, so a 400 MW battery would run the equivalent of 4/10 ths of a nuke for 4 hours. That won’t substitute for a nuke for even one night of zero power from a solar array.

ResourceGuy
February 17, 2022 10:36 am

I hear that a good method of putting out grid scale battery fires is to throw large volumes of dead birds from the windmill farms directly onto the fire. If that does not work, then try old silicon solar panels and windmill blade scraps.

TonyL
February 17, 2022 10:37 am

“In any case I don’t like gas fire suppression systems.”
You worry too much.
The halon used are generically freons. These are inert to biochemistry and therefor utterly harmless. Chemically freons are chloroflurocarbons and quite stable (except when….)

Freons react quickly with hot copper and decompose producing large amounts of chlorine and fluorine gas. If you thought chlorine gas was bad as it kill you right quick and fast screaming in agony the whole time, wait till you get a whiff of a trace of fluorine gas.

Now where would you find hot copper in a computer machine room full of electrical equipment with an electrical fire going on?
You just die horribly screaming all the way, at least until your lungs get chemically burnt out of your chest.
You worry too much.

Retired_Engineer_Jim
Reply to  TonyL
February 17, 2022 11:38 am

Years ago, I had a colleague nearly die – using freon as a cleaning agent in a closed room. Fortunately, he was discovered, unconscious, on the floor in time to be resuscitated.

Doug Leach
Reply to  TonyL
February 17, 2022 12:24 pm

No. Freons are chlorofluorocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons which are used as refrigerants. Halons are bromo chlorofluorocarbons. Halon 1211 for example is bromochlorodifluoromethane. The bromine is the key part for fire extinguishment or suppression. Exposure of the Halon to flame causes pyrolysis of the Halon agent, generating bromine radicals, which are very effective in the gas phase as generating the chain reaction which propagates fire. The problem in an enclosed space is that the Halon wouldn’t kill you, but it also displaces oxygen from your lungs, so you suffocate. Freons and high CO2 in closed spaces act the same. Although there are concerns about Halons from an ozone destruction perspective, they should not be a problem for “global warming”, as they are not long-lived enough in the atmosphere. They don’t persist in the atmosphere. HFC refrigerants on the other hand are very stable, and therefore not a risk for ozone depletion, but are long-lived enough to theoretically contribute to GWP.

Retired_Engineer_Jim
Reply to  Doug Leach
February 17, 2022 12:40 pm

“The problem in an enclosed space is that the Halon wouldn’t kill you, but it also displaces oxygen from your lungs, so you suffocate. Freons and high CO2 in closed spaces act the same.” Exactly – had he not been discovered so quickly, he might well have died.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
February 17, 2022 6:13 pm

However, in an active fire situation, the oxygen is used up. If the fire isn’t extinguished, anyone trapped in the room will pass out and potentially from a lack of oxygen. What’s worse is that the byproducts of combustion of things like wire insulation (PVC) and carbon monoxide, will produce things that are strong lung irritants. You don’t want to be locked in a room with a fire whether there is a fire suppression system or not! However, you probably have a better chance for a desirable outcome if it is something other than CO2 displacing all the oxygen.

Joel O'Bryan(@joelobryan)
Reply to  TonyL
February 17, 2022 12:37 pm

Halon uses bromine and fluorine not chlorine so is much more stable (doesn’t decompose) at high temperature.
Halon: Bromotrifluoromethane, commonly known as Halon 1301

TonyL
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
February 17, 2022 2:19 pm

Fluorine will stabilize the molecule. Bromine most certainly will not. Notice the mode of action as above. The bromine splits off and acts as a free radical trap. Decomposition is the point. When the bromine leaves, the rest of the molecule is a free radical itself. then, as they say, its “Game On”. Maybe it does not decompose at high temperature. Check that out with a copper catalyst. Been there, done that. Once was plenty.
Florine is produced, no doubt about it.

mal
Reply to  TonyL
February 17, 2022 4:22 pm

I still remember an older man our neighbor cough and hack when I was a child. As I grew older I learned that it was due the gassing he got in WWI, more than likely chlorine gas.

Mark D
Reply to  TonyL
February 18, 2022 5:48 pm

Freon® is a registered trademark not a class of chemicals.

Steve Randle
February 17, 2022 10:47 am

“Vistra Completes Expansion of Battery Energy Storage System at its Flagship California Facility”

From Vistra’s web site, dated 8/19/21. Just six months ago.

https://investor.vistracorp.com/2021-08-19-Vistra-Completes-Expansion-of-Battery-Energy-Storage-System-at-its-Flagship-California-Facility

Doonman
February 17, 2022 10:59 am

California is saving the planet by installing battery storage in huge facilities. The Moss Landing storage facility is the largest in the nation.

In fact, Monterey Bay Community Power, the new government run consortium of energy resellers will give you the opportunity to pay more for your green energy by delivering only green renewable electricity to your meter.

How they know which electrons on the grid they are delivering to you are renewable or not has never been fully explained. But in California, its all about feelings anyway, so it’s the thought that counts.

Derg
Reply to  Doonman
February 17, 2022 5:05 pm

Word salad Bob loves green energy and loves having the poor foot the bill.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Doonman
February 18, 2022 12:26 am

How they know which electrons on the grid they are delivering to you are renewable or not has never been fully explained.”

Has it been explained in any fashion? Fully or otherwise?

Dan DeLong
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
February 18, 2022 11:12 am

Try this analogy: The grid is a small lake. Producers pump water into the lake and consumers take water out of the lake. Nukes and coal burners each pump 1000 liters/hour into the lake. Solar arrays pump 400 liters per hour into the lake in full sun daylight and none at night. In 24 hours, the nuke would pump 24,000 liters into the lake and the solar array pumps 2,400 liters into the lake (6 hours X 400 liters/hr). As long as the group of consumers collectively remove less than 2,400 liters per day, they can claim that they only removed solar water from the lake.

In my opinion, it’s dishonest bookkeeping, but it’s what they do. Plus, the lake is really small and cannot be used to level out the water consumed, so the non-solar providers must throttle up and down to compensate, and those costs are never included in calculating the cost of grid tied solar power.

c1ue
Reply to  Doonman
February 18, 2022 7:35 am

Some numbers: The cost of the Moss Landing battery storage is carefully hidden in all of the articles I looked at about it (20+) but the proposed Morro Bay storage: 1/3 the size of Moss Landing – is estimated to cost $500 million to $600 million. So Moss Landing cost at least $1.5B to $1.8B.
If you look at Monterey county – 2019 electricity consumption was a bit under 687 million kWh. So Moss Landing provides 0.17% backup = ~15 hours at a cost of $11.8K to $14K per household plus maintenance costs.
This is just stupid.

The cost to battery store just the solar PV California threw away in 2020 (1.5 billion kWh) is around $2 trillion dollars.

The ratio of storage cost to electricity value is 5000 to 6000 compared to retail electricity price, and 2000 to 45000 compared to utility electricity price.

WTF

c1ue
Reply to  c1ue
February 18, 2022 7:36 am

2000 above should be 20000

Dean
Reply to  c1ue
February 18, 2022 6:18 pm

And you are assuming full discharge of the battery, typically they operate between 20% and 80% to preserve battery life and also be able to purchase power at lower tariff times.

February 17, 2022 11:15 am

Halon or CO2 might be better choices, at least they don’t conduct electricity.

Oh dear. Both work in a normal fire by displacing oxygen.
Lithium ion batteries do not need external oxygen to burn.

Ergo both would be completely useless.

CD in Wisconsin
February 17, 2022 11:39 am

Apparently, this recent overheating event at the Vistra storage facility is not the first one. Found this video on Youtube that indicates another overheating event took place back in September last year….

“Battery modules “overheat” at Vistra’s Moss Landing Energy Storage Facility” – YouTube

Two overheating events inside of six months. Hmmmmmm…..

Retired_Engineer_Jim
February 17, 2022 11:40 am

“Vistra stated that due to ‘failures of a small number of couplings on flexible hoses and pipes’,”

One coupling failure is bad, small number is worse. No quality control during construction?

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
February 17, 2022 3:56 pm

Why are they using “flexible” hoses? Many plumbers don’t like using flexible hoses even on low-pressure lines to water heaters because they can fail so easily.

And exactly what is a “flexible pipe”?

There should be *NOTHING* flexible in a system carrying water throughout electrical equipment. All connecting lines should be solid and mounted solidly so vibration is not an issue. All couplings should be solid as well, such as soldered copper joints or glued plastic pipe.

Sounds to me like a terrible design from the git-go. I’m not even sure this would be allowed by building codes in residential areas. The piping should meet the exact same requirements natural gas pipes do! And that goes for *ANY* pipes adjacent to electrical equipment!

TonyG
Reply to  Tim Gorman
February 18, 2022 9:40 am

Why are they using “flexible” hoses?

Good point, one that I missed.

I used to install fire sprinkler systems. This one sounds like a preaction system.
I NEVER saw a flexible pipe sprinkler system.

But in addition to that, after installation, even on a preaction system, we would pressurize and test the system. And there should be regular inspections. So not only was construction poor, they apparently skipped those steps as well.

Glen
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
February 17, 2022 4:13 pm

no NDT or non-destructive testing.

fretslider
February 17, 2022 11:44 am

CO2 is excellent for electrical fires, but…

Dean
Reply to  fretslider
February 18, 2022 6:20 pm

As long as it is generated by burning wood taken from forests on another continent then its carbon neutral.

Old Cocky
February 17, 2022 11:55 am

It would most likely have been water mist for cooling to prevent the batteries from reaching ignition temperature.
As others have noted in comments, there in’t much that can be done with something which contains its own fuel and oxidiser.

Hartley
February 17, 2022 12:02 pm

This is just bizarre – the USCG won’t accept a fire extinguisher on my boat that is not Class C rated (electrical fire) – but a massive electrical installation has a water-based “cooling” system? Something is just wrong here.

Curious George(@moudryj)
Reply to  Hartley
February 17, 2022 2:02 pm

Your boat is not saving the planet.

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
Reply to  Hartley
February 17, 2022 3:09 pm

Alternative action in case of fire on your boat – remove bung located in bottom of boat. Works every time and no nasty chemical sprays required to extinguish blaze.
Glad to help.

Gordon A. Dressler
February 17, 2022 12:17 pm

This article cause me to think back to the early days of the TV shows “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” and even “Star Trek” where I simply wondered why all those showers of electrical sparks coming from overloaded ship control consoles were not simply prevented by things known “fuses” and “circuit breakers”.

Of course, I know that the graphics of a fuse blowing or a circuit breaker opening don’t have the necessarily visual effects needed for “dire emergency” portrayal but still . . .

MarkW
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
February 17, 2022 1:46 pm

I’ve worked on electronic equipment that was designed for airplanes. The ones I worked on had a switch labeled “Battle Short”. It’s purpose was to bypass the fuses. The reason was that when you are in a battle, the sudden loss of your electronics usually meant the loss of the plane, and possibly the pilot. So it was better to keep the electronics running for a few extra seconds, hopefully long enough to either win the battle or disengage from the fight.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
February 17, 2022 5:12 pm

You are probably talking about huge copper buss bars to carry the current from these batteries. In telephone central offices we used to use surplus submarine batteries and in a big office there were lots of them. Think buss bars from the battery strings that were 1/2″ thick and 6 – 8″ tall. Fuses? These weren’t fused. There are all kinds of stories about dropping wrenches, etc. onto these and watching sparks and melting going on. Think big electric welders at work!

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
February 17, 2022 6:19 pm

One of the necessities of watching most Hollywood movies is to suspend disbelief. Just enjoy the fireworks, even it they are improbable. It is a bit like believing in CAGW.

Joel O'Bryan(@joelobryan)
February 17, 2022 12:35 pm

Bromotrifluoromethane, commonly known as Halon 1301.
Halon is a major league GHG and as a halogenated methane, very much a potential ozone depleter. Very un-Green. so its manufacture was banned in 1994 in the US by the EPA as part of the Montreal Protocol.

RickWill
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
February 17, 2022 12:52 pm

Waiting for someone with “recent” knowledge to make this point.

Pat
February 17, 2022 12:36 pm

So the fire department “extinguished” the fire?
I’d love to know exactly how they did that.
I expect “extinguished” actually meant “the fire went out by itself when the batteries were completely destroyed and the firefighters stood by watching it happen.”

MarkW
Reply to  Pat
February 17, 2022 1:47 pm

Perhaps the firefighters were able to put out the structure fire, once the batteries burned themselves out?

Prjindigo
February 17, 2022 12:55 pm

Why aren’t these systems protected by a much safer and more effective solution like…
baking soda… instead of relying on water? Chilled CO2 is abjectly easy to acquire, so is chilled N2. Each bank should be able to trip a FTIO isolator so that it and it alone is removed both from the circuit AND from contact in any form with the other banks.

Why are they even letting them get hot enough to fault this way?

Which abject [euphamism for genepool destroying anti-progress under-developing nincompoop] thought it’d be effective to spray WATER… ON… overheating battery pack banks to cool them off instead of using an intert system as primary cooling boost, smoke clearing and extinguishing system while also leaving the components in an array which made it probable that more than the misbehaving bank would be blasted by stagnant and effectively electrolytic undistilled water?

And just how exactly is a bearing of a cooling system overheating leading directly to electrical failures in a self-aware system unless the self-aware system is also a [euphamism for genepool destroying anti-progress under-developing nincompoop]?

Last edited 3 months ago by Prjindigo
Glen
Reply to  Prjindigo
February 17, 2022 5:03 pm

I don’t think you know how this works. See, they get paid by taxpayer money plus a sizeable profit to install these batteries. If they burn down, they get to do it again. /s

Jim Gorman
Reply to  Prjindigo
February 17, 2022 5:27 pm

You guys need to think about the current these connections are carrying between batteries. Even with 24v cells, think what current is needed to supply 1,000,000 watts of energy. It is a lot. You don’t find fuses like what is used in your house or car capable of this. We used to use switches in our central offices that were “air” powered to disconnect mains and switch over to back up generators. You had a big hand powered pump to build up the pressure and then “let it loose”.

Gary Pearse
February 17, 2022 12:59 pm

A Phase I fire followed by a fire with Phase II, used to mean a great deal to an engineer!

MarkW
Reply to  Gary Pearse
February 17, 2022 1:52 pm

When going into battle, a phaser type III is what you need.

https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Type_3_phaser

Last edited 3 months ago by MarkW
Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  MarkW
February 18, 2022 8:01 am

Gee, I haven’t seen one of those since Star Trek Beyond or perhaps it was Star Trek: Voyager – Endgame.

Has the technology of phasers gone stagnant?

Serge Wright
February 17, 2022 1:10 pm

In the pre-AGW era these large lithium battery systems, including those used in vehicles and home storage, would be banned due to safety concerns. The biggest risks will be from vehicle fires that will become all too common when we have a high % of electric vehicles on the roads. At some point there will be a halt to the madness, but only after many people are injured or perish.

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  Serge Wright
February 18, 2022 6:00 am

Like mRNA injections are banned?

Peta of Newark
February 17, 2022 1:19 pm

What kind of cowboy install was/is that place?

esp: Where was the Battery Manager Circuit/System ## – what was it doing?
## Usually called ‘BMS’
For every cell, maybe 2 cells, there should be a ‘heat sensitive component’ – either a basic little silicon doide or a thermistor.

Look inside your phone – the battery has three connections = positive, negative and ‘too hot to handle
If you have one, put a digital voltmeter measuring Ohms across the centre terminal to the negative – typically you will see 10K Ohms. That is the thermistor and it goes to the BMS built into the phone.

And it is the job of the BMS to make sure that the cells making up whichever/every section and subsection of the complete battery are all in constant equilibrium and balance.
i.e. Have the same voltage across them and charge within them

But the BMS should also be acting as a short circuit protector – classically it will comprise one or more big phat MOSFETs working as normally closed switches but if the ‘designed in’ output current is exceeded, will go open circuit and stop the current flow – and thus the I squared R heating within whichever cell is dying.

While they are there, they are also connected via a simple ‘OR’ circuit to the output of the thermistor and if it signals ‘high temperature’, the MOSFETs will open and stop the current and thus the (over) heating.
The BMS should also be guarding against excessive charging voltage (and current) while also protecting against over-discharge.

So where was the BMS – maybe one single little circuit board managing up to 16 individual cells?

“A bearing failed”
Have you ever heard such a pathetic and lame buck pass excuse?
That battery was put together ‘on the cheap’ and if the muppet installers cannot even tighten up Jubilee Clips properly….. words fail.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Peta of Newark
February 17, 2022 4:02 pm

The problem is that if you start disconnecting battery cells inside a grid-level battery, pretty soon you don’t have a grid-level battery any longer! And if the grid-level battery has to go off line because of low output voltage/current at night when there is no sun or wind — then what use is the grid-level battery to begin with?

Rud Istvan
February 17, 2022 1:49 pm

Back in my days as a senior Motorola exec, as we converted from NMH to LiIon we were very concerned about safety and did a lot of testing of various ‘failsafe’ designs. We NEVER had a fire or explosion. We just had a lot of ‘rapid delamination events’. Kind of like the opposite of ocean acidification.

Bruce Cobb
February 17, 2022 2:07 pm

Ah, if only there was some way of producing electricity such that there was no need for dangerous and expensive electricity storeage. The electricity would be produced 24/7 steadily and reliably, and could even be ramped up some if need be. Hey, one can dream can’t one.

ResourceGuy
February 17, 2022 2:20 pm

A bunker buster in every garage

yirgach
February 17, 2022 2:34 pm

NB: Locational analysis for large scale grid battery storage should ALWAYS consider the blast radius.
On another scale, the side of your house or garage should also be taken into account.

Last edited 3 months ago by yirgach
February 17, 2022 2:47 pm

Yes you don’t want to use Halon or CO2, as a LI battery in termal runaway is self sustaining without oxygen. It needs mostly to be cooled.

Reply to  John Hardy
February 17, 2022 8:13 pm

It needs mostly to be contained. I know of no Li battery fire that was ‘put out’.

observa
February 17, 2022 3:35 pm

It could be getting a whole lot hotter for the lithium battery fans if one of them started this fire-
Cargo Ship With Thousands Of VWs, Porsches, Audis, Lamborghinis And Bentleys Is Burning In The Atlantic | Carscoops
No doubt the global car shippers and their insurers will be most interested in getting to the bottom of it all so stay tuned folks.

observa
Reply to  observa
February 17, 2022 5:08 pm

PS: According to this shipping blogger(watch video) the car carriers facing a car fire in open decks running the length of the ship have curtains that can surround a burning car so onboard CO2 can smother the fire-
FELICITY ACE – Vehicle carrier on fire in AtlanticSimplifying IMDG Code (shashikallada.com)

Not effective with an EV lithium battery fire although all crew are trained in such fire fighting. Their abandonment of the ship means they likely concurred with his analysis that the fire will inevitably progress the length of the ship due to the very nature of car carriers. He also discusses likely fire suppression/salvage actions that will ensue.

2hotel9
February 17, 2022 4:01 pm

Funny. We got a gearhead/fireman who has been tracking and posting about EV fires in the PA/OH/WV/MD region and he had DeptTrans and FBI pound on his door and threaten him. Being a redneck and a Marine he has not. HooAhh!!!

George T
February 17, 2022 4:17 pm

I’ve read about these fires, but no mention of a Class D fire extinguisher used in extinguishing these fires. What I do read is to allow it to burn itself out and to contain the fire to reduce spread.
Class D fires involve combustible metals, such as magnesium, titanium, and sodium. Extinguishers with a D rating are designed to extinguish fires involving combustible metals.
Note: Common extinguishing agents may react with a combustible metal fire causing the severity of the fire to increase. The most common method for extinguishing a combustible metal fire is to cover the burning material with a dry powder, such as sand, which will not react with the material. If you store or use combustible metals, contact the Fire Prevention Services office for a consultation regarding the proper type and amount of extinguishing agent you should have available.

Reply to  George T
February 17, 2022 8:15 pm

Sadly lithium ion batteries do not contain combustible metals. It is not lithium that burns.

dk_
February 17, 2022 5:09 pm

The respirator would have done you no good, since whatever the effect on the fire chemistry, Halon would have taken the oxygen away from you. From an incident similar to yours, from experience I can tell you that AFFF foam suppressant is really bad, too.

Best bet, from my likely largely obsolete technical perspective, for combined chemical and metal fires in lithium batteries is dry chemical (even sand would work), but every solution for emergency is always a tradeoff, and always requires hazmet handling in ready storage and after application. Water-based suppression chemicals aren’t necessarily the worst in a fire.

And one of the most abundant breakdown chemicals in applied fire suppression is CO2. As with forest and brush fires (and as with real carbon costs of Solar PV and wind turbine generation), an honest accounting of the industry will show there are few benefits.

And The Grid Is Not For Storage, no matter what a crooked battery salesman says.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  dk_
February 17, 2022 6:35 pm

What would be your chances for survival if you were locked in a room with a fire without a suppression system? The unabated fire uses up the oxygen, produces CO and CO2, and byproducts of the decomposition of of various plastics.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
February 17, 2022 8:16 pm

Nom the fire does not use up oxygen. The batteries contain their own oxidants

dk_
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
February 18, 2022 3:59 am

Not sure I understand your point Clyde. Fire suppresson systems reduce the effects of a fire, once it has already begun. They don’t clean up after themselves, and often (perhaps always) create additional hazards.

In neither case where I (can’t speak for Eric) personally was exposed to fire suppression chemicals or systems, was there an actual fire. Both were system malfunctions in well maintained equipment, and quite dangerous in themselves.

Had I been locked in or been unable to move in either incident, I might easily have died from the chemical exposure. One was a situation I asume similar to Eric’s, in that poor system design prevented occupants from leaving once the suppression system was deployed.

In my other experience, it was fueled military munitions that were stored and maintained in that facility. In spite of there being no fire, most of those assets were still ruined by the malfunctionig fire suppression systems.

It was obviously better for either circumstance that a potential fire be stopped or reduced. But it is like any other engineering or technical compromise between risk and expense. Protection of individuals working in those places often comes in far behind protection of the larger facility and the public. .

Last edited 3 months ago by dk_
Reply to  dk_
February 17, 2022 8:15 pm

Lithium batteries do not contain lithium metal

dk_
Reply to  Leo Smith
February 18, 2022 3:57 am

Metalic salts are still “metal” but may not be flammable.

Lithium polymer and lithium iron batteries are encased in aluminum and contain other flammable metals. and materials, including a few that can act as oxidizers when exposed to heat.

When set off the combined metal and chemical have to be treated as metal fires. Water based chemical treatments don’t work very well, and spread more hazardous materiial easily.

Lithium batteries, by nature of their design, can ignite those other chemicals in the system, and can cause rapid discharge of pressure(like an explosion), potenitially spreading to other batteries and throughout the facility.

It is irresponsible to deploy any industrial system, that is prone to fire or other hazardous material accident, without adequate fire suppression and hazard mitigation.

Last edited 3 months ago by dk_
Streetcred
February 17, 2022 5:15 pm

Halon used to be the #1 fire fighting gas in computer installations because it didn’t damage the hardware … haven’t seen it used now for around 30 years.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Eric Worrall
February 18, 2022 8:06 am

. . . in a galaxy far, far away.

john
February 17, 2022 5:29 pm

I say they need to drop boron and sand from jet fighters just like Chernobyl.

Dean
Reply to  john
February 18, 2022 6:24 pm

Helicopters John.

It might also help if the ministers responsible also had to fly in those helicopters through the smoke.

Michael S. Kelly
February 17, 2022 5:55 pm

Back in the 1970s, when Dodge vans were all the rage, I came up with a business plan for an aftermarket Halon fire-suppressant system for those vehicles. It would have sold itself. After all, Van Halon was already a very well-recognized name.

Seriously, I would have grave reservations about trying Halon on a lithium battery fire. A fluorinated molecule would likely make things much, much worse. Sulfur hexafluoride is an extremely stable molecule – so much so that it is injected into the human bloodstream as bubbles, for ultrasound contrast purposes. It is listed as a non-toxic, non-flammable chemical. But when it gets together with metallic lithium, watch out! It burns fantastically hot, so much so that it was used in combination with solid lithium fuel in the steam generator for the U.S. Mk-50 torpedo propulsion system.

All of the fluorinated hydrocarbons have the potential to act as super-oxidizers for lithium (and magnesium) metal fires.

Last edited 3 months ago by Michael S. Kelly
Dennis
February 17, 2022 8:09 pm

Meanwhile, in New South Wales, Australia a coal fired power station generating nameplate capacity of 3,000 MW will be shut down ten years ahead of schedule, the owners just announced. It generates 20 per cent of electricity for NSW.

And it will be replaced by a 700 MW battery pack.

The Minister who announced this is an accountant.

Mike Jonas(@egrey1)
Editor
February 18, 2022 1:26 am

There’s a fire on a ship transporting cars – VWs Porsches etc – from Germany to USA. https://www.autoblog.com/2022/02/17/felicity-ace-cargo-ship-fire-porsche-volkswagen-cars/ “it couldn’t be put out using the equipment that the crew had access to on board”. A Lithium fire? If so, then I expect the information will be suppressed and no journalist will try to find out. I would be happy to be proved wrong!

Mike Jonas(@egrey1)
Editor
Reply to  Mike Jonas
February 18, 2022 1:35 am

Apologies to John Endicott February 17, 2022 10:18 am – I hadn’t seen that you had already covered it.

bonbon
February 18, 2022 2:27 am

Incredible – I was also stuck in a computer room when some genius decided to test the brand new Halon gas system. The fire klaxon was so loud one instinctively inhales – halon.
No O2 – managed to get to the door which was not locked.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  bonbon
February 18, 2022 1:27 pm

Assuming the system was properly sized for the protected space, you were in absolutely no danger. And you don’t normally do a full discharge test on any clean agent suppression system. The agent is far to expensive. Likely someone goofed, possibly pulling the manual release.

joe
February 18, 2022 2:53 am

i think grid scale battery storage systems should be subjected to the same regulatory standards as nuclear power.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  joe
February 18, 2022 8:08 am

Like being inside some kind of containment system? Just let it melt down and then cover it with dirt?

Coach Springer
February 18, 2022 7:12 am

Your local fire department has no ability to put out your electric car fire. They let it run its course. So, how much more are we adding to the price tag for a much more robust, higher-tech system that works partially at the grid scale?

MarkW
Reply to  Coach Springer
February 18, 2022 8:00 am

Are we going to have to raise taxes so that all fire departments can start buying equipment to handle EV fires?

Tim Gorman
Reply to  MarkW
February 18, 2022 8:04 am

Like a big refrigerated container that could be dropped over the burning car using a ladder boom? And the tractor-trailer rig to transport it?

Willem post
February 18, 2022 7:35 am

Instead of batteries that are VERY expensive, last at most 15 years, and may catch fire, it would be much better to have pumped hydro storage power plants, which last 100 years and NEVER catch fire.

He is an example of what is required in New England.

EXCERPT from:

RE FOLKS HOLD HIGH-LEVEL MEETINGS REGARDING WIND AND SOLAR BRINGING WORLD PEACE
https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/re-folks-hold-high-level-meetings-regarding-wind-and-soal

PUMPED STORAGE HYDRO PLANTS, IF 100% WIND AND SOLAR

Hydro power plants, with large reservoirs, can deliver a steady power output on a year-round basis.
Typically, such reservoirs have at least one river, and a large surrounding watershed, to keep the water in the reservoir at desired levels.

Wind and solar systems can be used to power pumps, which would return water from below the power plant dam to the reservoir.
Such a plant is called a pumped-storage hydro plant.

Example of Pumped Storage Hydro Plant

A very large reservoir could be created, if the Connecticut River has a 150 ft high dam. Large areas of land would be flooded, whole towns with people would be displaced, which is OK, because we are trying to reduce CO2 emissions from evil fossil fuels to save the world from climate change. 

If we assume the reservoir area would have 1,000 square miles, and the water level drops by only one foot, about 52,185 MWh of electricity would be sent to the grid. See table

New England total electricity loaded onto the grid is about 115 billion kWh/y, or 115 million MWh/y, or an average daily grid load of 0.315 million MWh, about 315068/52185 = 6 times greater than from one foot of water level drop. See Note

It would take about 10,799 MWh to return the water to the reservoir, for a net gain of 41,386 MWh per daily roundtrip

The electricity production would be about equal to the average daily grid load, if a 6-ft drop were allowed and the reservoir sides were vertical. See Note

Working Storage for All of New England, if 100% wind and solar

The total reservoir area would be about 10 million MWh/(41,386 MWh x 365) = 662 sq miles to provide 10 million MWh of working storage:

1) If all NE electricity were from wind and solar
2) If a 6 ft drop were allowed and the reservoir sides were vertical. See Note
3) To cover seasonal variations of wind and solar outputs

NOTE: If sloping sides, the reservoir surface area would become less, and the electricity produced per foot of drop would become less, i.e., at least 1,000 sq miles would be required.

https://cetulare.ucanr.edu/files/82040.pdf
http://convert-to.com/conversion/water-weight-volume/convert-us-gal-of-water-volume-to-pound-lb-of-water-weight.html

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Willem post
February 18, 2022 8:28 am

“. . . it would be much better to have pumped hydro storage power plants, which last 100 years and NEVER catch fire.”

Well, not exactly:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sayano-Shushenskaya_power_station_accident

Willem post
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
February 18, 2022 10:06 am

Hydro plant fires are very rare compared got battery fires

Dean
Reply to  Willem post
February 18, 2022 6:29 pm

Tasmania had a similar approach, large numbers of hydro dams.

Unfortunately a moderately prolonged drier than average season, combined with taking advantage of higher prices and more exporting of power than normal resulted in a lengthy use of diesel generators to keep the lights on.

Dang it there always seems to be flies in the ointment with these renewables…….

Willem post
Reply to  Dean
February 20, 2022 5:22 am

Tasmania is an island with a connection to the mainland, which likely is used counteract generation surpluses and deficits during a day.

I have written a separate article on the wind/solar/storage subject

PUMPED STORAGE HYDRO PLANTS IN NEW ENGLAND, IF 100% WIND AND SOLAR
https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/pumped-storage-hydro-plants-in-new-england-if-100-wind-and-solar

Last edited 3 months ago by Willem post
Mike
February 18, 2022 8:24 am

Halon is safe. It’s the halon byproducts that are toxic.

TonyG
February 18, 2022 8:36 am

“the suppression system needs a little work.”

You think?

may have started with the failure of a ball bearing in a fan.
failures of a small number of couplings on flexible hoses and pipes

Leave aside any issues with the batteries directly – that suggests the facility wasn’t exactly well built.

Mohatdebos
February 18, 2022 9:12 am

The fire burning on a car carrier in the Atlantic is being fueled by lithium ion batteries.

ResourceGuy
Reply to  Mohatdebos
February 18, 2022 11:55 am

It could become the first EV Chernobyl.

ResourceGuy
Reply to  Mohatdebos
February 18, 2022 11:58 am

As in the movie 2012, did someone say “engine start” while down in the cargo hold?

observa
Reply to  Mohatdebos
February 18, 2022 4:55 pm

Yes lost the lot and no doubt importing overseas EVs just got a whole lot dearer-
EV batteries could complicate recovery of burning cargo ship with thousands of cars (msn.com)
Even if an ICE starts a fire they’re designed to deal with it but should an EV lithium battery catch fire the very nature of the open decks dooms the floating carpark. Why the crew abandoned ship when they recognized the inevitable. Has huge ramifications for the car carriers and their insurers.

mark
February 19, 2022 1:45 am

Conventional water spray on a battery bank? Who came up with that genius idea. Offshore platforms used to have Halon banks, and then C02 – both of course having their own issues – especially C02 for personnel safety.

I wonder how HiFog would work on a battery fire? I guess it would eventually condense into water and cause the same issues.

Large banks of batteries are not a good place to be in a fire !

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