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Worldwide serious battery fires

Worldwide serious battery fires

The increasing development of new Battery technology is helping to drive both existing and renewable business models. However, numerous serious health and safety incidents have been reported around the world, that give cause for concern. The most recent incident has caused worldwide concern that has resulted in 50 Boeing Dreamliners being grounded by US regulators.

Sulfur Battery explosion.


Hawaii Wind Farm Battery Fire

The Hawaii Free press recently reported that a Battery – Back Up system at the new Kahuku Wind Farm caught fire. The Honolulu Fire Department said that the fire was extinguished by the time firefighters arrived at the scene, shortly after the 5.45 pm call in April 2012.

The building had to be ‘de – energised’ before it was felt safe for hazardous materials personel to enter the premises and deem it safe.

The facility is a 12 turbine, 30 megawatt facility, where the original battery is augmented with a 15- megawatt battery from VC funded Xtreme Power. This is not the first reported incident; an earlier incident was attributed to ECI capacitors in inverters. Hawaii News Now reported that the warehouse contained 12,000 individual battery packs in racks with small isles in between. Firefighters faced thick smoke, toxic fumes and other hazards. Although part of the building collapsed, crews prevented the flames from spreading to other structures.

Click here for a tremendous video from Hawaii News now in relation to the incident

Toyko Sodium Sulfur battery ‘Fire Incident’

NGK, the maker of what has long been considered to be the most bankable electrochemical energy storage solution, sodium sulphur batteries has had to revise its revenue forecasts due to a ‘fire incident’ at the Tsukuba Plant, ( Joso City, Ibaraki Prefecture) of Mitsubishi Materials Corporation.

Although NGK began shipping NAS batteries in 2002 which have been installed in 174 locations in 6 countries around the world, storing 305,000 kilowats of electricity, the company has ordered a temporary halt in production. Further, a safety review is was recommended of current installations with a voluntary suspension put in place until the cause of the fire is discovered.

In an update, NGK reported that they had worked with a third party investigation committee and Japan’s Hazardous Materials Safety Techniques Association to review the causes of the fire. They have recommended safety enhancement measures to deal with the fault.

The cause of the fire is set out in a diagram below, where molten material leaked from a battery cell causing a short between battery cells in adjoining an block. As there was no fuse between cells the current continued to flow, catching fire to the whole battery module. Hot molten material melted the battery cell casings inside the battery modules over and below, caused further fire spread.


 The Safety enhancement measures taken to prevent the spread of fire include.

Other general fire safety measures such as fire extinguishers, prevention equipment, evacuation routes etc will be enhanced.

  •  Fuses will be added to battery cells to prevent short circuiting.
  •  Insulation boards will be placed between blocks in battery modules to prevent leaking molten material causing a short circuit
  • Anti fire boards will be placed between battery modules above and below to prevent spread of fire.

A sodium–sulfur battery is a type of motlen saltbattery  constructed from liquid sodium(Na) and sulfur (S). This type of battery has a high energy density , high efficiency of charge/discharge (89–92%) and long cycle life, and is fabricated from inexpensive materials. However, because of the operating temperatures of 300 to 350 °C and the highly corrosive nature of the sodium polysufides, such cells are primarily suitable for large-scale non-mobile applications such as grid energy storage .

See for more technical information on the battery system.

 The NAS battery system, aimed at maximum utilisation of renewable energy from wind turbines and solar PV without producing CO2 by means of a control charge – discharge program. This process applies Beta alumina for its solid electrolyte leaving it free from a secondary reaction due to the charge/discharge and reduced thermal energy loss.

Lithium – Ion Battery fires turn Boeing Dreamliner into a nightmare

An inflight lithium-ion battery fire broke out Wednesday on an All Nippon Airways 787 over Japan, forcing an emergency landing. And another battery fire occurred last week aboard a Japan Airlines 787 at Boston’s Logan International Airport. Both battery failures resulted in release of flammable electrolytes, heat damage and smoke on the aircraft, according to the US Federal Aviation Administration [FAA]. 

The entire 50-strong global fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners, including six of Air India, were grounded on Thursday as US regulator Federal Aviation Administration asked airlines to cease operations of these planes temporarily till a battery fire risk was corrected.

The National Transportation Safety Board is also conducting a separate investigation into the issue.


For any advice and assistance for issues like these please do call Jeremy on 0844 2722322 or submit a comment below. Jeremy will come back to you at the earliest convenience.

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