Those whom I have worked with in the past know that I am an advocate for explosion safety and prevention in BESS during the design, construction and in operational stages. I recently got asked if an explosion was less likely to happen than a fire. My gut feeling is that it might be. Still, I reckon that the impact of a blast could be more harmful than that of fire due to the unknowns and the high degree of uncertainties in thermal runaway gas mixture, explosion behaviour and shock wave impact, and more importantly the surprise and silent effect. This is one of the main issues that I have with the “let it burn” approach.
I recently read an excellent paper “An analysis of li-ion induced potential incidents in battery electrical energy storage system by use of computational fluid dynamics modeling and simulations: The Beijing April 2021 case study” by authors in the reference below*.
My interpretation is that sadly, two lives were lost in 2021 in an explosion involving Li-ion BESS (LFP type) in Beijing, China. Apart from the sad loss of two lives (firefighters), what left my mouth wide open reading the paper was that the fire originated in one building and the explosion happened in a separate building around 20 m apart, almost 2.5 hours after the fire initiation. I definitely recommend giving it a read, it is a worthwhile investment (unfortunately it is not an open source).
Key intakes that I learned from reading this paper:
Could this explosion event in Beijing have been prevented? Probably yes. How? In-Country regulations and requirements specifically applied to the BESS in the design, construction and operational stages. In addition to the critical role that standards and safety certifications play in the BESS industry. Are the NFPA 68 and 69 the best? Well in my personal opinion, they aren't. But these standards are probably the best we currently have in the industry which can also open debate for further improvement. Nevertheless, the role that emergency response plans play and the responsibilities that the BESS OEM shares in the HSE of a project. Remember that we all have a role in the success and safety of this industry.
Xingyu Shen, Qianran Hu, Qi Zhang, Dan Wang, Shuai Yuan, Juncheng Jiang, Xinming Qian, Mengqi Yuan. An analysis of li-ion induced potential incidents in battery electrical energy storage system by use of computational fluid dynamics modeling and simulations: The Beijing April 2021 case study.Engineering Failure Analysis,Volume 151,2023,107384,ISSN 1350-630.
About the author:
Andres Blanco – Project Consultant | Managing Director at Blanboz, I’m an engineer with almost 15 years of experience in the renewable energy field, with the last seven to eight of these years fully dedicated to BESS through the full project life cycle. I am also passionate about explosion and fire prevention and suppression’s implementation in BESS. Electricity for all - Batteries lead the charge. Further information at www.blanboz.com , if you want to contact me, please do so at email@example.com , www.linkedin.com/in/andresblanco77