small building on fire inside of a large lab

Energy Storage System Installation Test Report Now Available

April 22, 2021

New partner research report available: UL 9540A Installation Level Tests with Outdoor Lithium-ion Energy Storage System Mockups.

Led by our partners in UL Fire Research and Development, this report covers results of experiments conducted to obtain data on the fire and deflagration hazards from thermal runaway and its propagation through energy storage systems (ESS). The UL 9540A test standard provides a systematic evaluation of thermal runaway and propagation in energy storage system at cell, module, unit, and installation levels. The data from this testing may be used to design fire and explosion protection systems needed for safe siting and installation of ESS. This project team was led by UL Research Engineers Adam Barowy and Alex Klieger and FSRI Research Engineers Mark McKinnon and Jack Regan.

In addition to temperature, pressure, and gas measurement instruments installed inside of the container, fire service portable gas monitors were placed at locations inside and outside the storage container during the experiments to assess their ability to detect products of thermal runaway and inform fire service size-up decisions. Review section 2.2.3 Fire Service Size-up Equipment to learn more.

This research demonstrates a clear need for responding firefighters to have early access to data from instrumentation installed within an ESS, particularly gas measurement instrumentation, available through a monitoring panel. Additionally, it highlights the importance of communication between responding firefighters and personnel responsible for management of the ESS, who can aid in complete evaluation of system data to develop a more clear picture of system status and potential hazards.

Tactical considerations for the fire service include:

  • Thermal imaging cameras do not enable evaluation of the number or location of ESS units in thermal runaway.
  • Thermal imaging cameras enable a limited ability to determine whether a suppression system has operated or is operating.
  • Thermal imaging cameras are not a viable tool for determining the nature of visible vapors (e.g., battery gas, steam, Novec 1230, etc.)
  • First responders should consider the practicality of continuous monitoring of the interior and exterior gas environment.
  • Gas meters and visual observations should be utilized for defining the hot zone or exclusion zone at ESS incidents.
  • Full structural PPE (Level D ensemble) with full SCBA should be donned before performing size-up or operating within the hot zone.
  • Portable gas meters have limited effectiveness to evaluate the potential for explosive atmosphere within the ESS container.
  • Fire service portable gas meters have limitations in a battery gas environment.
  • Ventilation of an ESS installation may result in a deflagration or rapid transition to flashover.

Click here to read the report. 

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