US study finds that faulty installations often to blame for battery fires

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  • US-based EPRI has set up a database listing battery storage fires throughout the world. It recorded 50 incidents during the 2018-23 period.
  • With the support of the U.S. Department of Energy’s PNNL and Twaice, a Munich-based producer of battery analysis software, EPRI has now examined 26 fire incidents in order to determine the cause of the blazes.

The three sides categorized the incidents to identify and analyze two different aspects of the failures. Firstly, they examined the causes of the failures, including design, manufacturing, integration, and operation. Secondly, they assessed the elements of the storage systems in which the failures occurred, such as the cells/modules, controls, or balance of system components.

The results indicate that only a small number of battery storage failures stem from component manufacturing. However, the three sides acknowledged the challenge of pinpointing manufacturing defects as the root causes following fires or explosions, given the loss of physical evidence. Overall, no phase throughout the entire product life cycle appears to be particularly susceptible to errors.

EPRI said that that damages are more likely caused by system components outside of the cells and control systems. It said that the complexity of coordinating numerous components might cause fires.

The group said that failures will also occur when the range of components continues to increase. They identified the operation of storage systems as the second-most common source of errors. Most control systems are the reason for failures, especially state-of-charge limits in systems.

The study said that better quality assurance can minimize production defects and reduce integration-related errors as the number of components increases. Twaice recommended using software-supported battery monitoring as early warning systems to enable timely system shutdown if needed.

Author: Ralph Diermann

This article was originally published in pv magazine and is republished with permission.


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