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Lithium-ion batteries are considered safe to use, hence found in many electronic devices, from mobile to cars. However, if these batteries are improperly used, damaged, or defective, they can overheat and even catch fire.
A lithium-ion battery that catches fire can be a severe hazard. So, you should be aware of how to put out a lithium battery fire, especially if you have a lithium-ion battery-equipped vehicle.
In general, you can put out a lithium battery fire using a Class D fire extinguisher. It creates a barrier between the lithium battery and oxygen in the air to stop and prevent the fire.
If you want to explore a comprehensive discussion about extinguishing lithium battery fires, read the entire content.
How Does A Lithium Battery Work?
Lithium batteries usually contain a positive electrode (cathode) and a negative electrode (anode). A chemical layer between the cathode and anode works as a mechanical battery separator.
When the battery is charging, electrons go into the anode, making the lithium migrate from the cathode to the anode. However, if the battery is unplugged, this process works in reverse.
In that case, the electrons will go through a circuit to power electric components and then move to the cathode. The lithium battery will run out of power whenever all the ions reach the cathode.
This process can be repeated over and over to enable the battery to charge and power the necessary electric components.
What Are The Reasons For Lithium-Ion Batteries Catch Fire?
Several reasons can cause lithium-ion to catch fire. Here we’ve pointed out some common causes behind catching fire on lithium-ion batteries.
- Physical Damage: If a lithium-ion battery-equipped car vibrates too much, its cells will damage, causing a short circuit. This short circuit causes the overload current inside the battery, which leads to high heat. When the heat temperature reaches the ignition temperature, combustion will occur.
- Overcharge: Charging a lithium-ion battery for a longer time means a higher chemical reaction inside the battery. The chemical reaction will produce a temperature when it reaches a certain stage. Once the battery overheats due to higher chemical reactions, the battery will catch fire.
- Abnormal or Improper Use: If you charge a lithium-ion battery with the wrong charger, which is not suitable for it can also cause damage to the battery. Besides, storing a vehicle equipped with a lithium-ion battery in extremely cold or hot weather can damage the battery. And a damaged lithium-ion battery can easily catch fire at any time.
- Manufacturing Defect: Sometimes lithium-ion batteries pass quality control measures, even after having defects. This type of battery is typically prone to catching fire, especially when using or charging the battery for the first time. Besides, if the lithium-ion battery is made with low-quality materials, there is a risk of catching fire anytime.
How To Put Out A Lithium Battery Fire?
Different types of materials require different fire extinguishers. Depending on the materials that are aflame, fire extinguishers fall into five different classes.
As lithium batteries are involved in explosive metal, class D fire extinguishers will be ideal for extinguishing fires when aflame. This type of extinguisher basically creates a barrier between the lithium battery and the oxygen in the air. Class D fire extinguisher smothers the lithium battery fires and prevents the fire from restarting.
Apart from using the class D fire extinguisher, you can also use a CO₂ extinguisher to put out a lithium battery fire. In that case, you must know the CO₂ extinguisher won’t prevent restarting the fire. Basically, when the CO₂ extinguisher is applied, the fire will smoothen for some time, but once the CO₂ has dissipated, the oxygen will return, causing the fire to start again.
However, you should avoid using water to put out the lithium battery fire. This is because water is not lithium battery friendly. Besides, water can worsen the lithium battery fire since it is chemical.
So, this is all about how to put out a lithium battery fire. However, if you are not able to put out the fire, you should call the fire department as soon as possible.
Preventing Tips for a Lithium Battery Fire
We all know that prevention is better than cure. So, you should follow all the necessary measures to prevent a lithium battery fire. For your convenience, we’ve pointed out some effective tips regarding that.
- Use a lithium battery from a reputable manufacturer. Poorly manufactured or defective lithium batteries are prone to damage quickly and catch fire.
- Don’t allow the battery to be discharged below 20 %. Discharging the battery below 20 % is one of the main reasons the battery is damaged and catches fire.
- You should not use any third-party battery chargers to charge your lithium battery. In that case, using the charger you get from the manufacturer or authorized charging station is better.
- If your vehicle starts to feel hot while driving, allow it to cool down. Excess heat can cause the lithium battery to catch fire.
- Avoid storing the lithium battery in extreme temperatures. This is because too cold or hot temperatures can cause the battery to damage.
- If you store your vehicle for longer, charge the battery frequently. Storing a battery longer without charging can cause the battery to be damaged.
Some Commonly Asked Questions About Lithium Battery
Lithium battery users have different questions regarding catching fire. For that, here we’ve talked about some frequently asked questions about lithium-ion batteries. If you have any questions about that, check out the section; you may find your answer here.
1. Is Lithium Battery Dangerous to Use?
No, lithium batteries are not dangerous to use. However, the battery can be dangerous if the battery is damaged, overcharged, or misused. Even if you are not careful with the lithium batteries, they can catch fire.
2. What Are the Signs of Having A Damaged Lithium Battery?
You’ll notice different signs if your lithium battery is damaged or failing. Some common signs include unusual heat, smoke odor, noise, or swelling in the battery. You should consult an expert mechanic whenever you notice any of these signs.
3. Why Should You Take Out a Lithium Battery from Fire?
You should take out a lithium battery from fire for different reasons. First of all, lithium batteries can explode if they catch fire. Besides, the fire caught on the battery can spread to other parts of the vehicle or nearby instruments or vehicles.
4. Is It Possible To Use A Damaged Lithium Battery?
No, you shouldn’t use a damaged or bad battery since it can cause a misfire and explosion. In that case, it will be better to consult an expert mechanic to replace the battery with a new one.
5. What Is the Life Span Of a Car’s Lithium Battery?
The estimated life span of a car’s lithium battery is around 10 – 20 years prior to its replacement. However, over time, the capacity of the lithium battery will decrease.
From the discussion above, you should now have a clear idea about how to put out a lithium battery fire. Basically, to put out a lithium battery fire, you have to use a class D fire extinguisher since it is able to create a barrier between the battery and the oxygen in the air.
Remember, you should avoid using water to put out a lithium battery fire. This is because water can spread the fire and make it worse. However, you can prevent this worse scenario by following the tips pointed out above.
If you are still confused about putting out a lithium-ion battery fire, feel free to write to us in the comment box below. Our expert team will help you in all possible ways.