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I had a lithium fire (my own fault)

Water makes many of the undesirable decomposition reactions occur at lower temperatures, but if you have enough water flooding in and steaming out, the pack can't exceed the boiling point of water, which is still lower yet. E.g. if without water the solvent becomes toxic gas at 180 degrees, with water it may happen at 140 degrees, but the boiling point of water is 100 degrees. So flooding with water is technically an option as long as you have enough.
 
Lithium ion battery fire vs Lithium metal fire
For the most part we are talking about Lithium Ion secondary (rechargeable) batteries.
Lithium metal fires = specialized Class D extinguishers used for lithium metal fires
A class D extinguisher should not be used on a lithium ion battery fire (the explosion risk refered to in post #29?)
Lithium ion battery fire = large battery pack a continuous stream of water cooling the battery pack down then dunk tank, a small battery pack could have the flames knocked down with ABC extinguisher then be cooled with water. Ideally you want to get to the battery before it goes into thermal runaway ie any part of the battery pack is too hot to touch 50ºC-60ºC is my threshold you need to cool it NOW.
Lithium metal fires are the fires that water doesn't work on.
While it may seem counterintuitive, lithium battery fires are not the same as lithium metal fires and therefore require a different type of fire extinguisher. Lithium-ion batteries do not contain metallic lithium; instead, they have a lithium compound in their electrolyte. As a result, the specialized Class D extinguishers used for lithium metal fires (such as those containing Lith-X or Copper Extinguishing Agents) are not the ideal choice for lithium battery fires.


For lithium battery fires, a Class ABC fire extinguisher containing a dry chemical agent (usually monoammonium phosphate) is generally recommended. This type of extinguisher can effectively suppress the combustion process and help smother the fire. However, it is important to note that using an ABC extinguisher on a lithium battery fire may not entirely prevent reignition, as the battery may continue to generate heat even after the fire is extinguished. In cases where lithium battery fires cannot be effectively suppressed using a Class ABC extinguisher, firefighters may resort to using large amounts of water to cool down the battery and prevent reignition.


Lithium Metal Fires: Characteristics and Challenges​


Lithium metal fires, on the other hand, involve the combustion of pure metallic lithium, which is highly reactive and easily ignites when exposed to air or moisture. Lithium metal fires generate intense heat and are notoriously difficult to extinguish due to the metal’s reactivity with water and other common extinguishing agents.
Later floyd
 
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I thought lithium batteryes fire can't be stopped with water, is this untrue?
Yes, untrue !
if you have enough water relative to the size/capacity of the battery, you can fully subdue and control a lithium battery fire.
Thinking ???….
…..these were Nissan Leaf (NEC?) cells .
of all the EV car fires i have seen reported …Tesla, GM Volt, Bolt, Fisker, BYD, etc etc…..i am struggling to remember a Nissan Leaf being implicated in a battery fire ?
…If i am mistaken, can anyone site any examples ?
 
For lithium battery fires, a Class ABC fire extinguisher containing a dry chemical agent (usually monoammonium phosphate) is generally recommended. This type of extinguisher can effectively suppress the combustion process and help smother the fire.
Hmm ?… i am surprised anyone is still suggesting this , as there is a whole wealth of examples where it has been shown to be totally ineffective . Especially in the case of a large pack such as an EV or even a domestic solar storage battery.
It may be somewhat more effective on a LiFePo4 type chemistry pack, but the regular NMC, NCA, LiCo etc , chemistries are known to be beyond the control of dry chemicals.
 
I was quoting from the linked article. All the lithium battery fires videos I have seen were put out put out with continuous water/ dunk tanks. My mistake.
later floyd
 
I thought lithium batteryes fire can't be stopped with water, is this untrue?
Yes it is untrue, but if the battery is encased in a heavy gage metal box, as in most automobiles, you cannot get water directly on to the burning cells.
Lithium is water soluble so is quite easy to extinguish a lithium fire, if you can get water directly on to the lithium.
 
Lithium is water soluble so is quite easy to extinguish a lithium fire, if you can get water directly on to the lithium.
Do you mean a lithium *metal* fire, or a lithium *battery* fire?
 
This topic reminds me of an personal experience I had with a flammable metal.

At a local community College around 2004, I was turning titanium pipe remnants (likely grade 2) on the metal shop's lathe, making finger rings (men's wedding rings). The donated pipe was short, 3/4" diameter remnants from a gold mining operation in Northern Nevada. My cuts were creating continuous, wavy, coil-looking strands in one nice pile beneath the lathe bed. At first, I didn't notice it... until I started detecting heat rising up from between the lathe bedways, directly below the chuck. I looked down to discover my growing pile of titanium shavings were on fire. I grabbed the smoldering pile with my gloved hand and tossed it on the cement floor, then doused it with my coffee. Had NO clue this was a potential issue with titanium... lesson learned

I have TIG welded a number of titanium projects and it welds beautifully, without incident. But take away the argon, exposing titanium to heat and oxygen, and poof... instant flames.
 
Do you mean a lithium *metal* fire, or a lithium *battery* fire?
Not sure what your distinction between the two is.
If the lithium is contained in a closed container, then water will not be able to get to the lithium.
 
Not sure what your distinction between the two is.
If the lithium is contained in a closed container, then water will not be able to get to the lithium.
Lithium metal burns vigorously upon contact with water. So, not easy to extinguish with water.

The quantity of elemental lithium in a battery isn't all that much. About 160g (a little less than 6 oz) per kWh of battery.
 
Not sure what your distinction between the two is.
If the lithium is contained in a closed container, then water will not be able to get to the lithium.
Then your original statement isn't applicable either ;) :
Lithium is water soluble so is quite easy to extinguish a lithium fire, if you can get water directly on to the lithium.

If your statement applies, then it means water *can* reach it, and thus the question I asked:
"Do you mean a lithium *metal* fire, or a lithium *battery* fire?"
is also applicable, and it matters, because plain lithium metal (and others like sodium, potassium, etc) are highly flammable when placed in contact with water, spontaneously igniting in a highly exothermic reaction, creating quite a lot of heat. Doesn't matter how much water you put on the plain metal, it will still burn until it has finished reacting. (it's also a fun lightshow with potassium, I haven't seen a lithium metal-water interaction in person yet).

A lithium battery fire would not have water-solubility or reactivity as a general factor because the lithium is already in a chemical compound in the plates / electrodes, with electrolyte coating those, not plain lithium metal.

The main thing that the water does in a lithium battery fire is to cool everything down below the point at which the electrolyte and plastic separators, etc. self-ignite (kind of like putting out a wood or paper (or other) fire--if it's hot enough, even if it's wet, it will evaporate the water from it and re-ignite; put enough water on it long enough and the water will directly or thru evaporation carry away enough heat that it can't do that and it stays out).
 
FROM CHAT GPT.
User

You
Can you explain why, when I had a lithium battery fire, which burned through the aluminum battery casing, the fire was easily and quickly extinguished with water?


ChatGPT
Extinguishing a lithium-ion battery fire with water can be effective in some situations, but it's important to understand the specific conditions and reasons behind it. While water is generally not recommended for lithium fires, there are cases where it can work, depending on the circumstances.
When a lithium-ion battery catches fire, it is typically due to a thermal runaway reaction within the battery cells, leading to the release of flammable electrolytes and the generation of heat. In some instances, the heat can cause the battery casing, often made of materials like aluminum, to rupture or burn through.
If the fire is limited to the burning of external components, and the water is applied early in the incident, it can help cool down the surrounding area, suppress the flames, and prevent the spread of the fire. The water absorbs heat, and the vaporization of water can also displace oxygen, limiting the availability of oxygen that supports combustion.
However, there are important considerations and potential risks when using water on a lithium battery fire:
  1. Hydrogen Gas Release: The reaction between lithium and water can produce hydrogen gas, which is flammable. In some cases, extinguishing a lithium fire with water may result in the release of hydrogen gas, creating additional hazards.
  2. Metal Fire Risk: Lithium fires are considered Class D fires, and traditional firefighting methods may not be entirely suitable. Using water on metal fires can be effective in certain situations, but it's essential to be aware of potential reactions and hazards.
  3. Electrical Hazard: Lithium-ion batteries carry an electrical charge, and applying water to the fire may pose electrical shock risks. Water should be applied from a safe distance, using methods that minimize the risk of electric shock.
It's crucial to note that lithium fires can be complex, and the effectiveness of water as an extinguishing agent depends on various factors, including the size of the fire, the stage of the incident, and the specific characteristics of the battery. In many cases, specialized fire extinguishers designed for lithium or metal fires, such as Class D fire extinguishers, are recommended for safety reasons. Always prioritize personal safety and consult with local safety guidelines and emergency response recommendations.
 
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