Since the use of batteries in all areas of social life has recently increased and will continue to increase in the future, many fires involving batteries present a challenge that is difficult to assess. Concrete risk analyses are difficult due to the lack of values for probabilities of occurrence, and their development cannot be predicted.
Impact analyses, which often have to be supported by fire tests, at least provide assistance in evaluating concrete, possibly increased hazards. Energy release rates and the emission of toxic and corrosive gases not previously observed to the same extent are the main focus here. At the same time, findings on the effect of plant fire protection measures, in particular extinguishing and fire alarm systems, on the new fire processes can be determined. IFAB plans and carries out these tests.
IFAB uses accredited procedures for investigating design fires and is thus able, among other things, to determine the heat release rate (HRR) of battery fires.
The increased use of batteries is impacting many industries where batteries are an essential part of the product, potentially creating new fire hazards for areas such as production, transportation, storage and testing. In many cases, the new hazards created by battery storage, handling or charging are often not (yet) adequately addressed in the relevant laws, regulations, guidelines and standards. Here, too, impact analyses based on fire tests form the basis for necessary changes.
IFAB is one of a few testing laboratories that owns a robust and mobile FTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer) for field applications and uses it in battery fire tests. IFAB has developed a measurement method specifically for this purpose, for which it has been accredited. An FTIR is capable of analyzing combustion gases from lithium-ion battery fires. In particular, it works well in the harsh conditions of a fire test environment. Typically, hydrogen fluoride (HF) is already known as a particular hazard. However, many other of the combustion products from batteries are also corrosive, toxic, or even both.
IFAB performs tests for the automotive industry according to applicable standards, e.g. GB/T 31467.3, Lithium-ion traction battery pack and system for electric vehicles - Part 3: Safety requirements and test methods - E/ECE/324/Rev.2/Add.99/Rev.2, Annex 8E, Fire Resistance.
In addition to standard-compliant fire tests, IFAB carries out tests tailored to specific applications. This concerns current research fields but also specific fire protection for facilities such as engine test benches; parking garages, climate chambers and vehicle battery storage.
Usually, a main concern in case of fire is the health and safety of personnel working near or with batteries. IFAB is available to advise on these cases.
We also conduct analytical studies to compare the effects of fires involving vehicle types of various propulsion technologies with those of conventional reference vehicles. The performance and suitability of fire suppression systems for use in fires involving batteries or electric vehicles can also be evaluated. In addition, we can also provide consulting services on fire department deployment strategies.
At present, there are no standardized test methods for analyzing the effects of battery fires in rail applications. Nevertheless, the use of lithium-ion batteries is also increasing in this area, e.g. for hybrid drives, as traction batteries or in combination with fuel cells.
IFAB now has sufficient experience in determining the best solution for the respective application with the aid of fire tests on the basis of "performance-based design". All structural and plant fire protection measures can be taken into account and combined in a meaningful way.
IFAB has conducted numerous battery fire tests in other fields of application. The design of fire protection measures here is mostly also based on the "performance based design" approach. Fire tests are often a necessary part of the process of understanding and quantifying the effects of battery fires (determination of HRR, smoke volume & toxicity) and/ or investigating the suitability and effectiveness of appropriate structural and plant fire protection measures.
IFAB has actively participated in research projects that focused on the investigation of fires involving lithium-ion batteries, e.g. various measurement methods for the multifaceted measurement of battery fires have been implemented. Currently, we are involved in the follow-up project "SUVEREN² USE" as a subcontractor for the planning and implementation of experimental fire tests.