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What should you do if you have a Lithium ion Battery Fire?

I remember my science teacher throwing lithium into the pool at school, the reaction was ferocious, which got me thinking about how I would deal with a fire in my van when I am repairing iPhones.

What precautions should I take and what do you believe is the best way to extinguish a Lithium ion Battery Fire?

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In addition to the great contributions already here, here is something directly from Battery University which has tons of great info on Lithium batteries.

If a Li-ion battery overheats, hisses or bulges, immediately move the device away from flammable materials and place it on a non-combustible surface. If at all possible, remove the battery and put it outdoors to burn out. You may also put the device outside and keep it there of a least 6 hours.

A small Li-ion fire can be handled like any other combustible fire. For best result use a foam extinguisher, CO2, ABC dry chemical, powdered graphite, copper powder or soda (sodium carbonate). Halon is also used as fire suppressant.

FAA instructs flight attendants to use water or soda pop to extinguish a fire in the cabin. Water-based products are most readily available and are appropriate since Li-ion contains very little lithium metal that reacts with water. Water also cools the adjacent area and prevents the fire from spreading. Research laboratories and factories use water to extinguish small Li-ion fires.

A large Li-ion fire, such as an EV, may need to burn out as water is ineffective. Water with copper material can be used, but this may not be available and is costly for fire halls. When encountering a fire with a lithium-metal battery, only use a Class D fire extinguisher. Lithium-metal contains lithium that reacts with water and makes the fire worse. Only use the Class D fire extinguisher on lithium fires.

''CAUTION Do not use a Class D fire extinguisher to put out other types of fires; make certain regular extinguishers are also available. With all battery fires, allow ample ventilation while the battery burns itself out.''

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Actually, class D fire extinguishers are not to be used for lithium ion battery fires! Please see link here, Class B fire extinguishers are the proper ones to use: https://resources.fireprotec.com/how-do-...

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Thanks for the input. I just quoted what I found on BatteryUniversity. However, it does say to use Class D on Lithium-Metal batteries, not Lithium-Ion. For Li-Ion, it does recommend ABC extinguishers.

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The first thing to consider is that lithium ion batteries burn at an extremely high temperature. Handling one that is showing signs of heating (known as thermal runaway), or swelling can be extremely hazardous, as it can suddenly burst into flames with an extremely intense jet of flame, or even explode. So, I would suggest that you keep metal tongues, eye protection, a metal bucket containing water, and thermal protection gloves handy within your van.

If a battery swells or ignites then don't panic, put on your PPE before handling it, then pick it up with the tongues and place it in the bucket. Then take the bucket outside, and leave the battery in the water for at least 24 hours.

It would also be prudent to have a vermiculite extinguisher (such as Lith-Ex), nearby just in case the fire is too intense to handle the battery.

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iFixit’s Techwriting team whipped up this document a while back which might have some useful tips: What to do with a swollen battery

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YES! Well written!

@kadan - We should create links to this guide throughout all of the devices that have Lithium Ion Batteries

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Stick it in a bucket of sand. Old Boy Scout solution ;-)

UPDATE

When camping, we always kept a bucket of sand just out side the tent just in case.

The kitty litter box would also work. I keep a nice looking small stainless steel trash can by my soldering and hot air bench just in case I start an unwanted fire. Some sand in the bottom might be something I want to add.

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I work on a towel, so as to stop screws from bouncing when they get dropped, I don't know if I would have the time to do that. I am also concerned I may burn myself and am concerned about fumes in an inclosed space. Are there not any other options?

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Dry chemical extinguisher also works ;-}

The worse is the fumes and getting burnt

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I was thinking of keeping a gas mask handy

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The batteries swell up, fortunately there are things in place to contain the gases and keep the lithium from burning. The outer skin of the battery is pretty tough and can expand. The key thing is to keep oxygen away from the lithium and the gases, if it is NOT on fire and is not too warm, then it would be safe to drop it in a bucket of oil (vegetable oil works). If it is on fire a CO2 extinguisher may help.

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Oil would make a mess and it could ignite! Not a good idea.

I'll stick with a dry chemical extinguisher.

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“For best results dowsing a Li-ion fire, use a foam extinguisherCO2, ABC dry chemical, powdered graphite, copper powder or soda (sodium carbonate) as you would extinguish other combustible fires. Reserve the Class D extinguishers for lithium-metal fires only. “

https://batteryuniversity.com/learn/arti...

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powdered graphite or copper would create issues getting into electronics as both are conductive. Sodium carbonate is Ionic and corrosive! which would be difficult to clean up.

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@danj I think the higher priority is to extinguish the fire though.

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This person is using a van as a repair lab. so we need to think things out in the context.

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I put a ZipLoc bag filed with backing soda, flatten it out in the bottom of a metal cookie can, and place my batteries on top of the bag, and close the lid, and place it on a concrete floor.

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While you are all burying your disgraced battery pack at the beach you might want to think about what was in that vented gas and where it went. Hexafluorophosphate a main ingredient in most lithium ion (not metal) batteries. When it is heated and catches fire it vents phosphoryl Floride (POF3). Toxic stuff (bad) when it reacts with water; POF3 + H2O → HPO2F2 + HF. That HF is the very toxic hydrofluoric acid. It absorbs calcium ions in the body, is hyper corrosive, and causes pulmonary edema and cardiac arrest. It is (Breaking Bad. Seriously, it is the acid our questionable heros Walter and Jesse use to dissolve bodies in the show)

Putting water on the fire gives the POF3 the reactant to manufacture HF and cools the reaction so it takes longer and gives it a better atmosphere to cause the reaction it.

Get it outside to vent and burn if possible. But do it on one breath. Vent the smoke/gas. Wash everything down with sodium bicarbonate and water.

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Roland Chandler さん、ありがとうございました!
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