Storage of lithium batteries
Fire protection measures with Extover®
The “Gesamtverband der Deutschen Versicherungswirtschaft e.V.” (GDV/Umbrella Association of the German Insurance Industry) in cooperation with VdS has prepared a bulletin on the safe storage of lithium batteries. For this purpose, the batteries were assigned to various categories according to their capacity and safety instructions were defined based on the stacking height, quantity, spacing, separation etc. Note that there is limited information on the storage of lithium batteries and fire protection. However, technical fire protection measures are recommended by insurers for batteries with a high capacity.
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In general, one can assume with today’s manufacturing standards that lithium batteries can be considered safe with proper, professional handling. However, product and design flaws as well as the construction of the batteries themselves may also constitute hazard sources. High voltages and current are possible. Elementary lithium may be present, and toxic as well as combustible substances may leak out, resulting in significant fire loads. In addition to product design, the hazard potential is significantly influenced by the battery capacity.
Recommendations for the storage of lithium batteries
Low-capacity lithium batteries (<1 kg)
There are no special regulations for batteries in this category, provided that all manufacturer requirements and/or those of the certification body are met. When large volumes are stored (more than 7 m³), the information for the medium capacity class applies.
Medium-capacity lithium batteries (>1 kg, less than 60 volt)
These types have to be stored in rooms or areas that are fireproof or partitioned off (e.g. hazardous substance warehouse, hazardous substance container). Mixed storage is not permitted. The storage area must be monitored by a fire detection system. Fire extinguishing systems have to be equipped with suitable fire extinguishing agents. In case of larger storage volumes, the information for high-capacity lithium batteries applies.
High-capacity lithium batteries (60 volts and up)
For this battery class, the protective measures have to be established on a case-by-case basis in coordination with the property insurer. Recommended measures are separation and volume limitation, storage in fireproof areas that are partitioned off (safety distance 5 metres), systems for oxygen reduction and inert gas, sprinkler or spray-flood extinguishing systems (where permitted based on the classification).