Your Guide to Lithium-ion Battery Safety

Posted by vivek choudhary on February 8th, 2022

Industrial batteries are becoming more popular for use in material handling equipment now and in the future since lithium-ion batteries outperform lead-acid batteries.

Lead-acid batteries can present unique safety risks to workers due to their heavyweight, specific maintenance requirements, and the potential for toxic gas leaks. Understanding these risks associated with the battery materials, charging procedures, and disposal requirements are essential to keep employee’s Battery safety and equipment moving.

If you’re looking for a place to start understanding lithium-ion battery safety, here is a how-to guide on what to look for when selecting and evaluating batteries.

Battery Electrolyte: Risks and Considerations

The battery type and materials used, such as battery electrolytes, are important when considering what to look for in battery safety.

The battery electrolyte is the solution within the battery that acts as a catalyst to conduct electricity. In a lithium-ion battery, the electrolyte typically consists of different organic carbonates based on the manufacturer.

The electrolyte is sulfuric acid in a lead-acid battery, which can be very harmful if spilled or splashed on the skin. With regular usage, the electrolyte level in a lead-acid battery will drop, and the electrolytes will need to be replaced frequently. Water maintenance is needed for Lithium batteries to replace the battery’s electrolytes and maintain performance.

Remember that battery watering needs to be periodical to keep the battery functioning. This is a process that presents several safety risks. Workers must be careful to fill the exact amount of water needed for the battery electrolyte and only do it when fully charged and cooled down. Unlike lead-acid batteries, lithium-ion battery electrolytes are permanently sealed inside the battery cell and do not require any maintenance.

Charging Procedures

Design the right EV batteriescharging is very different than lead-acid battery charging. Not every battery can be “opportunity charged” as lithium-ion batteries can. Without a weekly equalization charge, the opportunity to charge for a lead-acid battery can reduce its capacity and shorten its lifespan.

Hydrogen and oxygen gasses are released during the lead-acid battery charging process. Because of this phenomenon known as “gassing,” they must be removed from the equipment and go in a separate charging station with adequate ventilation and the ability to measure gas levels in the air so that workers can remain safe.

Since lead-acid batteries require removal from the vehicle for charging, this presents one of the greatest safety risks – the EV powertrain startupsof a heavy battery. With lithium-ion batteries, that is one less thing to worry about since the batteries can remain inside the forklift and charge when the equipment is not in use. In addition, keeping the battery inside the equipment makes the charging process safer and more efficient.

The safest and most effective way to charge a lead-acid battery is with multi-stage charging. However, if the charging process is not carefully broken down into steps, excessive gassing will occur, creating a very dangerous environment if the battery overheats with highly flammable gases.

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vivek choudhary

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vivek choudhary
Joined: May 13th, 2019
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