Australian Battery recycling will be a major growth industry during the next decade. Unfortunately, issues are emerging with inadequate investment and poor safety procedures in some operations. A few companies are trying to adapt equipment more suited to other types of recycling than for batteries. Battery storage and the challenges of ‘thermal runaway’ in lithium batteries are already emerging as a key concern for many operators.
What happens with thermal runaway?
The chemicals released during thermal runaway can be toxic. In extreme cases, thermal runaway can cause electrical fires and/or batteries to explode. Ambient temperature control is vital when storing batteries.
The risk of thermal runaway begins at a temperature of 60 degrees Celsius and becomes extremely critical at 100 degrees Celsius. Recent fires have the media and community uneasy about the storage and handling of lithium batteries. Companies looking to be involved in battery recycling need to clearly understand the protocols of collection & storage and invest in appropriate, safe equipment.
Australian Battery recycling investment
‘ecobatt’, part of the Recycal recycling group, has invested heavily to ensure that it has a wide range of safe storage options, including degraded storage containers specifically designed for lithium batteries. The degraded storage solution has an in-built lithium fire control system designed to contain a lithium thermal runaway event. These containers provide an added layer of safety and fire prevention prior to recycling. ‘ecobatt’ have developed a purpose built 40’ Lithium storage facility for storage of lithium batteries prior to re-processing. The company has also invested in Australia’s only Electric Vehicle Rescue Container. The container has an in-built Lithium fire control system, designed specifically for Lithium battery fires.
Traditional fire extinguishers will not put out a lithium battery fire. ‘ecobatt’ recommend the option of a N-Ext Lithium fire extinguisher. The company has also become the exclusive distributor for a purpose made Lithium Fire Extinguisher from Battery Safety Solutions.