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Lithium-ion battery fires

Facts for Prelims (FFP)


Source: DTE

 Context: Lithium-ion battery fires, although relatively rare, can be intense and long-lasting.

  • They are mainly caused by a phenomenon called “thermal runaway,” triggered by factors like internal failures (such as short circuits) or external damage. This can lead to a battery catching fire or even exploding.
  • Using water to extinguish lithium-ion battery fires is counterproductive as it can fuel the fire by reacting with lithium, producing flammable hydrogen ga Water also conducts electricity, posing additional risks of electrical shocks or short-circuits.
  • To combat these fires, experts recommend using specialized fire extinguishers, such as Class D fire extinguishers designed for lithium-metal fires or dry chemical fire extinguishers suitable for electrical fires.

Aftermath of these fires includes the release of toxic gases like carbon monoxide, hydrogen fluoride, and hydrogen chloride, which can be hazardous when inhaled in significant quantities, especially in confined spaces.