The Dangers of Storing
Lithium batteries are being used more and more as technology grows and they are becoming more heavily regulated. Lithium batteries must be transported as dangerous goods and so they must follow the relevant mode regulations. This page will give you an overview of the dangers of storing lithium-ion batteries.
Rechargeable lithium-ion (li-ion) batteries were first introduced in 1991. Today, they’re everywhere. Think about how many rechargeable devices are in your home or place of work – from the fitness tracker on your wrist, power tools in your workshop, your mobile phone, tablet and laptop.
With increasing demand for smaller, lighter and more powerful smart devices that hold their charge for longer, older battery technology is being replaced by li-ion.
As more and more devices and appliances are being developed, as well as the drive for electric bicycles, e-moped, e-scooters and electric cars, economic experts forecast that the global li-ion battery market size will more than double by 2025.
Storing Lithium-Ion Batteries
Can Be a Fire Risk
In everyday use, li-ion batteries are stable and work as intended with no problems. But if one catches fire, the results can be catastrophic.
A computer chip inside the battery is used to control the charge level. Under certain circumstances, such as if the battery has been damaged by dropping or piercing the device, a chemical reaction inside the battery can cause it to short circuit. This can cause the battery to severely overheat very quickly and go into ‘thermal runaway’, which can then lead to a fire.
It’s, for this reason, Recover has very strict rules around the storage and transportation of li-ion batteries.
Li-ion battery fires are very dangerous and can be difficult to deal with because they release flammable and toxic vapour which helps to fuel the fire.
Specially designed lithium battery fire extinguishers are available, based on a material called vermiculate. A Class B fire extinguisher (powder, foam, CO2) can also be used, though the risk of fire reigniting is likely.
A brief introduction on how Recover
counters risk of li-ion fires.
Recover customers need to collect and store any used lithium-ion battery in accordance with the requirements of the detailed Packing Instruction that appears in the ADR (Dangerous Goods by Road) Code.
The equipment provided to customers by Recover is UN approved and meets ADR requirements. Detailed instructions on how to fill your barrels will be provided. Clients can also opt-in for an ADR inspection where an expert will walk you through the process and ensure best practices are carried out when storing lithium-ion batteries.
What to do
if a fire breaks out.
Despite their name, lithium-ion batteries used in consumer products do not contain any lithium metal. Therefore, a Class D fire extinguisher is not to be used to fight a lithium-ion battery fire. Class D fire extinguishers, which contain dry powder, are intended for combustible metal fires only. Since lithium-ion batteries aren’t made with metallic lithium, a Class D dry powder extinguisher would not be effective.
Lithium-ion batteries are considered a Class B fire, so a standard ABC or dry chemical fire extinguisher should be used. Class B is the classification given to flammable liquids. Lithium-ion batteries contain liquid electrolytes that provide a conductive pathway, so the batteries receive a Class B fire classification.
Prevention is better than the cure, in this case, storage is key. You should be storing lithium-ion batteries away from anything that is remotely flammable. If a fire breaks out it should be controlled and often allowed to burn out.
Following of ADR guidelines
for transporting dangerous goods
Recover is required to ensure that when any dangerous goods (lithium batteries) are transported, they are carried in full compliance with the appropriate regulatory provision or provisions (if more than one mode is involved).
Recover is required to carry out the following;
Ensure that any employees involved in any way with the transport of dangerous goods have been appropriately trained before any involvement and that they have received appropriate refresher training. For air transport, refresher training is mandatory within 24 months.
- However, training is not required where the person is working under the direct supervision of a suitably trained person.
- Keep a record of any training given and, if requested, make a copy available to the employee.
- If involved in the carriage or the related packing, loading, unloading of significant quantities of dangerous goods by road or rail, appoint a vocationally trained and certified Dangerous Goods Safety Adviser (DGSA).
Recover customers are required to:
- Comply with the policy and procedures and practices outlined by Recover
- Comply with any other safety provisions laid down under other requirements and regulations, such as the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992.
Don’t sweat, Recover will ensure everything is in order and our in-house ADR officer is available for site visits should you have any specific requirements or challenges.
It's really easy to start recycling your lithium-ion batteries.
Simply contact us and we will run you through our simple recycling collection process. We can also do an on-site inspection with our ADR safety officer.
Once you're signed on we'll deliver a brand new Eco-Recover bin to match the amount of e-waste you produce.
Our team will automatically collect your e-waste bin from your premises. Offering a "No hassle, no fuss" service.
What Are Some Tips for
Safely Handling Li-ion Batteries?
Improper handling can cause damage to batteries, which may lead to overheating, fires or explosions. Here are our tips for proper Li-ion handling:
- Remove batteries from devices that will not be used for an extended time
- Keep batteries away from electromagnetic sources
- Keep batteries intact
- Isolate batteries that show any signs of damage
- Place in anti-static bags
- Place in a UN certified barrel and cover with vermiculite
- Drop or crush the battery pack
- Use batteries that are bulging, dented, swollen, leaking or damaged in any way
- Puncture battery cases
- Modify the battery in any way
- Store near flammable items or surfaces
Additional considerations from an
insurance & saftey perspective
The rise of Li-ion batteries and accumulators cannot be slowed in the foreseeable future as their cost-effectiveness is unrivalled. This is why they are now found everywhere all the time.
In addition to the risks to companies that manufacture these batteries and accumulators, from an insurance perspective there are further risks wherever Li-ion batteries or accumulators are used and/or stored on a larger scale, especially in mobile device retail and in manufacturing and industrial businesses. Given their particular risks, any risk assessment should therefore take the presence of Li-ion batteries and accumulators into account. This means that regardless if in a manufacturing process or storage the presence, quantities and storage conditions of Lithium-Ion batteries should be identified and noted in a risk assessment as it would be done for flammable liquids and gases. At the same time, supplementary safety measures should be recommended to the policyholder if deficiencies are identified.
Our dangerous goods safety advisor
service can help your business
In the formation of Recover we poured hours of our team time into ensuring we were fully compliant in every way. We stumbled upon a safety officer named Dan, since our meeting, Dan has been revolutionising our approach to storage and safety. All companies that ship dangerous goods require the professional service and advice of a qualified DGSA. Dan is a highly experienced DGSA providing this service to a diverse range of clients within the UK.
Let Recover also help you with:
Health & Safety Advisor Service
Health and Safety in the workplace is everyone’s responsibility but it’s good to have someone on board who can guide, influence, motivate, coach others to ensure that they can achieve those responsibilities. Dan provides a monthly service to clients to ensure that they improve and maintain their safety compliance responsibilities. Call us to see if he can assist you too.
Workplace Safety Compliance Audit
A trusted and independent review of your workplace safety compliance arrangements can help you identify your business strengths and areas for development. Dan and our safety officers have highly experienced safety and quality auditors to the BS OHSAS 18001 & ISO 9001 standard. Talk to us to discuss your needs and we can schedule an onsite visit.