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Lithium batteries - the industry's inbuilt fire hazard

Lithium batteries - the industry's inbuilt fire hazard

Over recent years, the air cargo industry has seen a huge increase in shipments of lithium-based batteries across the globe. The popularity of these compact batteries has understandably exploded. They contain an impressive amount of energy relative to their size. The raw materials are affordably priced and readily available. It is no surprise that lithium batteries are so popular among producers and users of renewable energy, mobile devices and electronic consumer products. They are everywhere. But; they also present a serious fire risk which is of great concern, particularly for the aviation industry.

Lithium batteries and their ability to self-ignite

Lithium-based batteries have numerous applications: from electric cars and industrial energy storage systems to portable electronic devices, power-packs, e-cigarettes and artificial pacemakers. However, all lithium-based batteries can self-ignite and create what is termed “thermal runaway”. Their ability to combust instantaneously makes lithium batteries inherently dangerous to aircraft and other forms of transportation.

The safety hazard of undeclared lithium battery cargo

The FAA has banned shipment of lithium-ion batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft, while IATA has issued instructions on safe ways to pack lithium batteries. These measures undoubtedly contribute to the overall fire safety of an aircraft. However, a certain amount of undeclared lithium battery cargo is expected as not all manufacturers and shippers will follow safety rules, whether through ignorance or intent. There will always be a number of individuals and companies who disregard fire safety measures, irrespective of the consequences. This means that the industry must continue to develop standards and designs that will result in containment, suppression and extinguishing systems for lithium fires in cargo holds.

FireShield containers by Nordisk

The demand by airlines and integrators for fire-resistant containers has been gaining traction over the years. Nordisk is determined to continue to play its part in finding a solution that enables airlines to transport dangerous goods safely. Nordisk has already developed and delivered a range of FireShield containers. Learn more about Nordisk FireShield containers and the risk lithium batteries represent in our White paper: “FireShield containers by Nordisk Aviation Products”.

Click here to access and download the Whitepaper




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