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The search of the safe battery

The Ytterøyningen is a small ferry, the concern in the West of Norway, the car and passenger transport. As always, more ferries, tugs and fishing boats that operate in the sensitive fjord waters, is equipped with an electric drive. Energy storage is a package of Lithium-ion batteries. On the evening of the 10. October it came on the ship to a small fire that was quickly extinguished. The case seemed to have done. But the next Morning it was on the ship, suddenly an Explosion, which caused heavy damage. Several helpers who had inhaled toxic fire gases, had to be doctored.

After the fire, the Explosion: the ferry Ytterøyningen. Photo: PD

That the Lithium-ion exploded batteries of mobile phones, has already happened, the airlines have responded with regulations for the passengers. E-cars and E-Bikes are already gone up in flames, for example, in may 2018 on the motorway A 2 at the Monte Ceneri. Recently, a case made in Austria, the headlines, because apparently no one knew how a burned-out Tesla had to dispose of. That also deleted a Lithium battery is very sensitive, know also. The accident investigation authority NTSB of the United States has about a case of 8. May 2018 described in the fire in the accident vehicle, even twice broke out, once the removal and then to the maintenance depot.

Deleted and so dangerous

The fire brigades are familiar with the Problem. "For the fire Department of any fire in the vehicle requires a specific course of action," says Urs baechtold, Director of the Swiss fire brigade Association. Whether gasoline, Diesel, natural gas, LPG, Hybrid, electric or hydrogen, each engine type has its own behavior. "The distinction is now not so easy, because there are dozens of different car models with Hybrid or electric drive, which are not marked accordingly," says Daniel Junker, a vehicle expert at Baloise insurance. Hybrid vehicles are increasingly equipped with Lithium batteries.

While petrol and diesel cars, but do not explode, can explode, burn, a Lithium-ion battery is very good. Urs baechtold pointed out that the Re-ignition of a seemingly deleted a Lithium battery even after days is possible. In the case of the Norwegian ferry proves it. The Delete is not in an E-car is difficult, it is sufficient, the access of oxygen to bind. "The elements in the positive Pole of the battery contained a high content of oxygen, resulting in an actual deletion, it is hardly possible," says Urs baechtold. It is very much water is needed to cool and to stop the chain reaction, which detects a cell to the other. But that is hardly possible, because the batteries are often difficult to access.

to delete Extremely difficult: the burning Tesla. Photo: Georg Köchler (Zoom.Tirol)

If the battery of an electric vehicle is defective, sooner or later comes to a car demolition company to train. The Lithium batteries must be very carefully handled, and a longer period of time monitored. Even a small leak can trigger chemical reactions that lead to a difficult-to-control fire.

Bruno Meier, a specialist for battery disposal at the recycling company Thommen Group must also deal with the Transport of old batteries is a great deal of attention. Be used special containers with built-in fire extinguishing system, for the Truck, the rules for transport of dangerous goods apply.

charging a battery is potentially dangerous and should not take place around unsupervised in the apartment.

The modern Lithium batteries are, in principle, not more dangerous than petrol and diesel, assure experts. Incidents are rare, but often serious. It might soon turn up more problems, if the absolute number of devices continues to increase as strong as it is today. The Joint Research centre, the research organisation of the EU Commission, writes that, worldwide, four million electric vehicles in operation in the next ten years, the stock could, depending on the scenario, to 50 to 200 million increase.

A massive promotion of electric vehicles could increase the share of E-vehicles, which accounts for today in the world only 0.3% of the entire fleet, significantly. Up to the year 2030, researchers expect the price of the battery package, could be cut in half, what would drive the adoption of E-vehicles.

Lithium-ion batteries not only deliver the drive energy in people, cars, buses, and small aircraft, much the battery has increased, the use of the two wheels. In Switzerland to 2018 was every third sold the bike a E-Bike, 111'000 pieces were sold, 27 percent more than in the previous year, in the case of the E-mountain bikes, the increase amounted to as much as 50 percent. Accordingly, the diffusion of Lithium-ion batteries in the consumer has increased. The charging process is potentially dangerous, and should not, for example, take place unsupervised in the apartment. Accidents are already happening. Regulations for the safe storage of Lithium-ion packages are available for the trade no.

Recycling only on paper

The growth of E-vehicles is likely to have, with a delay of a few years, a flood of used batteries result. A recycling problem is not going to give it, writes the Department of technology and society of Empa. The right solution needs to be found. Experts at Empa and the Foundation Auto Recycling check since this spring, the systems in other countries, and are working on a strategy for Switzerland.

Many questions are still open. To what extent can be used to repair old batteries, or used for additional applications? Needs to build Switzerland's own recycling capacity? The recovered materials covers the costs for the exploitation, or it is in need of a disposal fee? Lithium is not obtained, for example, currently, back, the raw material is available in unlimited quantities and could be in the next few decades, almost, the production is much cheaper than Recycling.

The development of the Lithium-ion battery has introduced this year, three researchers the Nobel prize for chemistry. Since the first, in 1991, came on the market, it allows for a range of products, such as the ubiquitous Smartphone and many other electronic Gadgets that have changed our lives.

In the future, Lithium batteries are increasingly also be fixedly used, especially as a buffer for fluctuations in Production of alternative power generation such as wind energy. For a Velo, a small battery is sufficient. Large passenger vessels are designed to travel on battery power, you need to be very much built-in more cells than in the modest Ytterøyningen. So, no disaster looming, have to be fitted the batteries for professional applications in future with the cooling systems that prevent Overheating.

No end to the development

For Akira Yoshino, one of the three Nobel prize winners, is not the development a long time at the end. As battery for Laptops and similar devices is the Lithium-ion battery today is "ideal," he said in an Interview. For the propulsion of cars, however, it will take about five years to the ideal state. Basic development needs, see the electro-chemist, as before, and fire safety. The battery can store a lot of energy and so needs to be secure. The theme was failure, therefore, some idea.

The fire safe Lithium battery would be possible, if the electrolyte through which Lithium ions from the cathode to the Anode, and Vice versa, Hiking, would be a solid body. Today, it is a readily combustible liquid, solid-electrolyte, are not yet practicable. It is also possible a replacement in the future, probably more expensive lithium due to the large quantities available, cheap, sodium would be.

In the Lithium-ion battery will also be used in other elements, the industry, researchers test new recipes. The diversity of products, there are hundreds of designs, complicates the Recycling. But the Lithium technology has so many benefits that you will continue to spread.

Created: 03.12.2019, 20:37 Uhr

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