On the BRITEside: Making a Better, Safer Battery

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At our BRITEside Chat on August 20, 2020, Ryan Franks of Energy Storage Response Group helped us understand what goes into making the omnipresent battery safer and what lies ahead for a seemingly overlooked technology. To sign up for BRITEside Chat and other events visit Eventbrite.

As energy storage becomes more important to our society – think about the batteries in phones & laptops, industrial settings and now electrical vehicles – it becomes a larger potential risk to the safety of people using them. A prime example of the potential risk can be seen in other countries already embracing larger scale energy storage systems. At large scale energy storage facilities in South Korea there have been 28 fires in less than three years. While there have been no major injuries in these cases, the damage to property and disruptions in service could have potentially been avoided.

This shift in technology and the potential effects it could have if misused is the primary reason for the foundation of Energy Storage Response Group (ESRG). At their testing lab in Picqua, Ohio, ESRG is able to test the side effects and subsequent events that could ensue when energy storage systems experience significant damage. When thermal runaway in batteris is caused by a myriad of potential events, intense heat builds up. In turn, this can lead to fire, dangerous off-gassing and even explosion.

ESRG can perform tests ranging from investigation into accidental events to testing racks and even containers of batteries for their response to a variety of tests. In one test, ESRG penetrated a 600wH battery with a nail. The battery, typically used for a forklift, responded negatively. Off-gassing and exposure to oxygen fueled flames which effectively exhibited what could be possible in a worst-case scenario. While not a common series of events, it’s important to know and understand the limits of the batteries, as well as understand what the technology is capable of.

The end goal? Provide a viable & valuable service to companies looking to deploy new technologies. ESRG wants to aid the product development process by analyzing systems and working to find any potential safety concerns that could hinder the path to market. This could save companies money & time during the development process but, moreover, it could save money & lives after an energy storage system is out in the world.

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