Lithium Battery Storage

Last updated: November 12, 2018

What Does Lithium Battery Storage Mean?

Lithium battery storage is a type of energy storage method in which lithium batteries are used as the medium of energy storage.

Sold commercially since 1991, lithium batteries are used in small retail products, electric vehicles, and multi-megawatt containerized units that provide ancillary energy storage services for electric grids.

Free Webinar On Demand – Hazardous Materials: Is Your Chemical Storage Solution Compliant?

Safeopedia Explains Lithium Battery Storage

Lithium batteries are popular due to their ability to store a large amount of energy within a relatively small amount of space. While the risk posed by lithium batteries is usually limited, if the battery is damaged due to a short circuit or other source of injury, the battery may undergo “thermal runaway.” This is a cyclical phenomenon in which an uncontrolled increase in battery temperature increases the battery’s current, which in turn further increases the temperature. This cycle can lead to fire, vented gases, smoke, and explosions powerful enough to emit shrapnel. Additionally, if multiple lithium cells are stored together, the increase in heat emitted by a single runaway battery can potentially damage other batteries sufficiently enough to cause them to experience runaway as well, thus leading to a chain reaction.

Standards and Regulations

The specific safety standards that govern the safe use of lithium batteries include both governmental and professional standards, and they vary depending on the industry the battery is used in. In the U.S., batteries used in electrical industrial equipment are covered by OSHA standard 1926, while OSHA standard 1910 covers general industry.

OSHA 1910.178 mandates requirements for proper storage, handling, and charging of batteries, including general requirements for battery storage rooms. These standards are general battery standards, not lithium-specific standards. However, they include obligations that apply to lithium batteries, including the use of extinguishing systems with chemicals appropriate for lithium battery fires, as well as training in the safe storage of lithium batteries.

Workers in the transportation agency are subject to additional safety requirements. United Nations/Department of Transportation section 38.3 governs standards for testing lithium batteries. Batteries must pass a series of eight tests designed to ensure they are safe for transport. In occupational contexts where testing is optional, firms utilizing untested lithium batteries may face a greater risk of liability if a safety incident occurs.

Regulatory Revisions

The safety requirements that govern the use of lithium batteries have been ever-changing in recent years due to highly publicized incidents such as the overheating of batteries in certain Samsung mobile phones, as well as due to less-publicized regulatory revisions. Some of these revisions reflect the fact that many occupational and other safety standards were not designed to address the unique safety requirements of various newer battery types, including lithium-ion batteries. For example, in 2015, the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) updated its regulations for battery storage systems for the first time in more than 30 years to add a section to its occupational safety regulations (section 5184 ) that addressed requirements for modern stationary battery storage systems, including lithium battery storage systems.


Share This Term

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • X

Related Reading

Trending Articles

Go back to top