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Are lithium-ion battery fire fumes toxic?

Apr. 20, 2022

Are lithium-ion battery fire fumes toxic?

Lithium-ion batteries are a rich source of power for industrial battery technology and are widely used. However, the occurrence of battery fires has raised concerns about the risks these batteries pose when they generate high heat. In addition, the risks associated with gas and smoke emissions from fires are often more serious threats, one of which is not given as much attention. The gaseous emissions of these batteries have only been studied and studied on a smaller scale and to a limited extent than expected.

Many people with legacy devices that use lithium-ion batteries as their power source may not be aware of the dangers of damaging such batteries. These batteries are used in more than billions of devices around the world, and after careful study and experimentation, they have been found to leak about 100 types of toxic gases. Lithium-ion batteries are currently being promoted and supported by many government agencies around the world as a viable and efficient energy source. This makes the public less concerned about the risks behind this energy source.

The threat posed by toxic gas emissions from batteries is not well understood and understood. Surprisingly, a fully charged battery tends to emit more toxic gases than a battery at 50% state of charge. The chemicals contained in the battery and its ability to release an electric charge also affect the type of toxic gases released from the battery. Manufacturers can better understand how to reduce such toxic emissions by identifying the gases they emit and why they emit them. Toxic gases from cells, especially carbon monoxide, can cause serious harm to anyone who breathes it in for a short period of time.

What happens if you inhale battery fumes?

Battery fumes are known to be toxic to humans and the entire environment. The gas emitted is lethal and can cause various harmful effects when inhaled. Inhalation of fumes may cause the following:

· cough

· Difficulty breathing

· sore throat

· Shortness of breath

These are just some of the few direct effects of inhaling battery fumes. There may be cases of delayed symptoms that are more severe, such as:

· redness of the skin

· Skin burns

· pain

· Skin blistering

· redness of the eyes

These gases are also corrosive to the eyes, skin and respiratory tract. In rare cases, inhalation can cause pulmonary edema, the symptoms of which appear only after a few hours and are physically stimulated. In this case, the victim is advised to take as much rest as possible and get medical attention immediately. If you happen to inhale battery fumes, seek medical attention immediately and keep the battery with you for medical identification of the correct medication and dosage.

What Causes Lithium-Ion Batteries to Fire

In order to gain a clear understanding of why lithium-ion batteries catch fire and possible ways to minimize the risk, they must be familiar with the battery's function. Lithium batteries are manufactured to provide high energy density for their intended electronic devices while minimizing their weight or volume. The lightweight nature of the lithium-ion cells installed in their designs translates into elongated separators and casings/covers between the battery cells. The separators are fragile and can be easily punctured, and once the battery is damaged, a short circuit occurs, and its spark can ignite the highly reactive electrolyte.

Another major possibility for a battery to catch fire can be due to charging, especially overcharging or fast charging. Users should note that lithium batteries are prone to short-circuit failure during charging, that is, a small amount of lithium metal is formed inside the battery. This ends up shorting out the inner electrodes, so high current flows through it. The high current causes Joule heating to the point of thermal runaway. At this point, the contents of the battery can put pressure on the battery and ignite a flame that could lead to an explosion.

How to Minimize the Risk of Lithium Battery Fire

The potential for fire or explosion in a lithium-ion battery depends largely on the user's tendency to handle the battery pack. However, there are steps you can take to reduce such risks, including:

1. Avoid storing Li-ion batteries together

As much as you may like to be organized, with everything in designated places, you should avoid storing lithium-ion batteries together. This is especially true during travel, when users will be tempted to dump all their electronics in a plastic bag. When lithium-ion cells come into contact with each other's terminals, they can break their polarity, which can cause leaks and ignite a flame.

2. Avoid overcharging

Lithium-ion batteries do not suffer from the "memory effect" flaw that their predecessors experienced during charging. Therefore, they can be charged and discharged as many times as possible. Draining them completely before recharging or overcharging can be risky, as this could cause internal damage that could damage the battery's composition and cause a fire.

3. Avoid subjecting the battery to extreme temperatures

Do not store batteries in high temperature places. Such areas may include hot vehicles during hot weather. We also tend to use laptops in bed and doze off with blanket-covered devices. This can overheat the device and damage the lithium-ion battery inside.

final thoughts

Lithium-ion batteries are everywhere, from traditional electronic devices like smartphones, laptops and remote controls to high-end inventions like electric cars and airplanes. Although accidents related to these battery packs seem to be rare, those that do occur tend to be unique in that they result in fire-related accidents or explosions.

Nothing is perfect, and while lithium-ion batteries have revolutionized the development of technology, they have their flaws pre-installed. However, that doesn't make them the award-winning power solutions that have made a legend in the battery industry for decades.