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FAQ: Frequently asked questions about Lithium battery fires

How do I extinguish a lithium battery fire? What are the risks in a Lithium battery fire and how can you control risks with batteries? Below you will find the most frequently asked questions about Lithium battery fires.

Question: What is thermal runaway?

Answer: This is the process in which the temperature in the Lithium-Ion battery becomes so high that the conditions change, resulting in even higher temperatures. In short, the start of a lithium battery. A process that is irreversible without external influence (extinguishing). The consequences are very high temperatures, the release of (dangerous) gases and often a very fierce conflagration, projections of electrolyte and metal parts.

Question: What are the causes of thermal runaway?

Answer: Thermal runaway can be caused by several factors. The most common causes of thermal runaway are: overcharging of the batteries (often due to incorrect chargers), damage, overheating, short circuit and too fast discharge of the battery.

Question: How effective is foam on Lithium battery fires?

Answer: Very limited. Foam will suppress the flames initially. However, because foam has an insulating effect, the temperature of the fire will rise again, so that the thermal runaway is not stopped.

Question: Can a battery fire be extinguished with a powder extinguisher?

Answer: No, a powder extinguisher does not provide cooling so the thermal runaway will not be stopped.

Question: Can a lithium battery fire be extinguished with water?

Answer: Very limited and with risks. Because water conducts electricity, a short circuit will occur. In addition, the reaction of water on the battery can lead to explosive hydrogen gas. Extinguishing batteries with water is therefore not without risks. While water does provide cooling, its low viscosity means it runs through the battery pack which means you need a high volume to have any effectiveness.

Question: How effective are extinguishers with water and an additive on Lithium battery fires?

Answer: Very limited. With most extinguishing agents that consist of water with an additive, the additive (often less than 1%) has no added value compared to extinguishing with 100 percent water. In fact, our tests have shown that water is more effective in battery fires than water with an additive. AVD is not water with an additive, but is a dispersion with at least 13% vermiculite. That is why this AVD makes the best extinguishing agent for Lithium battery fires. More information about AVD can be found here.