lithium batteries

Electric scooters and bikes have been making an appearance across the globe, with many believing it is the future of transportation. As a greener and more environmentally friendly option using lithium batteries when compared with motorbikes and cars, many people feel they may be a more sustainable option for the future.

But the rising popularity of these electric vehicles has caused some controversy, with 882 accidents have occurred in a year and instances of anti-social behaviour being reported. However, there is another risk that needs to be taken into account as well. The London Fire Brigade had to attend over 70 fires involving e-scooters or e-bikes in just the last year alone.

As a result of these fires, London Fire Brigade even gave their backing to a Transport for London (TfL) ban on private e-scooters on London’s transport network after one caught fire on a train. These fires are caused by an incredibly important part of the e-scooters - their battery. Read on to learn more about it.

What are Lithium Batteries?

Lithium Batteries are rechargeable battery types in which lithium ions move from the negative electrode to the positive electrode during its discharge and back again when they are charging. These batteries can have a high voltage, ideal for e-scooters which need the power for charging - for example, a 24V Lithium Battery provides 3-4 hours charge time and around 11mph speeds. This is on the lower end of the scale as other batteries can see speeds reach up to over 50mph!

While having excellent energy density, lithium batteries also have similarly excellent longevity, meaning they can be recharged multiple times over and still maintain their storage capacity. E-scooter and e-bike owners need this as replacing batteries can prove to be expensive.

How do Lithium Batteries present a fire hazard?

Lithium Batteries have a tendency to overheat, which could then lead to combustion and, therefore, a fire which can spread throughout a building if left unattended at any given time. Some have manufacturing defects, and others have design flaws, both of which can result in short circuits, causing the battery temperature to rise to a flammable level which then leads to fires.

Not only that, but some people end up leaving lithium batteries next to heat sources such as radiators, causing them to explode and start a fire which quickly spreads throughout the premises. This is a mistake that can be easily avoided, but it does tend to happen due to human error. Improper usage, such as excessive discharging, is also a problem.

What can be done to mitigate the fire risks caused by Lithium Batteries?

Firstly, common sense can be a lifesaver. Don’t store them near heat sources and only attempt to re-charge once the battery has significantly cooled down. Otherwise, a fire could break out. Flat, hard surfaces are the best areas for placing the batteries when leaving them to charge. This allows the heat of the battery to dissipate and presents less of a fire risk to the premises. Also, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when charging since it can help to lower the risk of anything bad happening and take good care of the battery in general as well. It’s vital that you never leave it to charge while asleep since a fire can break out at any time.

Where exactly can Lithium Batteries be stored?

Instead of storing and charging the batteries near fire escape routes, put them somewhere away from the main exit - this could perhaps be a spare room that you are not using. Storage areas should be mild and dry in their climate and not in direct sunlight, heat or humidity. Also, make sure that it is well ventilated throughout and the temperature is a steady 15°C.

Any drastic changes in temperature may result in the battery being damaged, so be sure to keep it consistent all the time so that you can avoid any potential disasters. Ensure to read all the labels on the lithium battery in order to understand how to safely store it.

What products do you need?

In the event of a fire at your premises, you need protection. A fire door allows for safe evacuation and can also protect the building from extensive damage. Emergency lighting can help you see your way to safety, and a fire alarm can alert you to a fire.

Fire extinguishers are essential for putting out small fires safely, ensuring they don't grow to become bigger ones that end up causing serious damage to the premises or the people inside. Fire risk assessments can help examine the potential risk and spread of fire on your premises, while fire alarm monitoring is key to a safe fire alarm that is able to work as it should do.

Who can you call on to help prevent fires?

If e-scooter or e-bike lithium batteries pose a fire risk to your premises, please get in touch to find out more about our services and the various ways we can help you improve your security.