Frequently asked questions about battery fires

Questions about risks with Lithium-Ion batteries. What are the risks and in what ways can you manage risks with batteries. Below are the most frequently asked questions about Lithium battery fires.

What extinguisher is needed to extinguish a battery fire?

A lithium battery fire is extinguished with a water-based (AVD) extinguisher. The AVD extinguisher is applied in a fine mist. This ensures that the battery is extinguished immediately. The mist encapsulates the batteries and prevents a thermal runaway.

A lithium battery fire cannot be extinguished with an ordinary foam extinguisher. Foam will initially knock down the flames, but the insulating effect of the foam will cause the temperature of the fire to rise again, not stopping the thermal runaway.

Powder extinguishers also cannot be used to extinguish a battery fire. A powder extinguisher does not cool the fire source so the thermal runaway is not stopped.

What is thermal runaway? 

This is the “thermal runaway” of a Lithium-Ion battery. A process in which the temperature in the battery becomes so high that conditions change which causes even higher temperatures. Consequences are very high temperatures, the release of (dangerous) gases and often a very bright conflagration, projections of electrolyte and metal parts.

What causes thermal runaway?

Thermal runaway can be caused by a variety of factors. The most common causes of thermal runaway are: overcharging the batteries (often due to faulty chargers), damage, overheating, short circuits and discharging the battery too quickly.

Is a lithium battery fire extinguishable with water?

Very limited and at risk. Water conducts electricity, so short circuits will occur. In addition, the reaction of water on the battery can lead to explosive hydrogen gas. So extinguishing batteries with water is not without risks. Although water does provide cooling, due to its low viscosity, it takes a very large amount of it to have any effectiveness.

How effective are extinguishing agents with water and an additive in lithium battery fires?

In most extinguishing agents that consist of water with an additive, the additive (often less than 1%) has no added value compared to extinguishing with 100 percent water. In fact, our tests have shown that water is more effective in battery fires than water with an additive. AVD is not water with an additive, but is a dispersion containing at least 13% vermiculite. This makes AVD the best extinguishing agent for Lithium battery fires.

Want to know more about the risks of lithium batteries? Download the free white paper here and discover all the facts!

For more information on the AVD extinguishing agent click here.

Lith-ex AVD fire extinguishers are available on our website