Safety aspects of large lithium batteries
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A battery containing 294 cells in the form of 7 modules of 42 DD lithium / sulfuryl chloride cells in a 7S6P configuration exploded during in-line inspection pigging of a 30” gas pipeline in April 1999. The gas pressure in the pipeline was ca 160 atm. It is likely that the explosion was caused by a leak in the battery container. This report describes the behaviour of the 30 Ah lithium / sulfuryl chloride DD cell (CSC93) under hydrostatic compression (in water and in inert gas), the effect of state charge and the effect of potting. Potting was found to have a major effect on the behaviour. The explosion was reproduced when a battery module of 21 cells was exposed to a slow increase in pressure. The explosion occurred at ca 100 atm, as predicted from the compression experiments on single cells. In addition, some experiments with respect to the behaviour of batteries with different battery chemistries under abuse conditions were made. This includes the effect of slow heating, the effect of fire on sealed battery containers, the effect of nail penetration, the effect of water intrusion and the effect of abusive charging. Based on the experimental results, general recommendations on how to improve the safety of the use and storage of large lithium batteries have been made.