Crowcon - Detecting Gas Saving Lives

Batteries and Other Power Storage


The Paris Agreement on climate change holds nations accountable for reducing their greenhouse emissions and reliance on fossil fuels, thus driving them to invest and use renewable energies, such as solar and wind. However, the sun doesn’t always shine and it’s not always windy – or it might be very sunny or windy, leading to over-supply of the grid. To ensure that renewables are used for maximum benefit, any excess energy they produce (i.e., that isn’t needed for the grid at that time) is stored in local storage facilities, which take the form of large batteries. These release energy later – when the grid requires more power, or when there is less sun or wind, such as overcast nights or calmer, duller days. However, these batteries can only release energy for a few (between 1 and 12) hours, so their use is limited to short-term, energy-on-demand requirements.

Batteries are effective at reducing power outages since they can also store excess traditional grid energy. The energy stored within batteries can be released whenever a large volume of power is needed, such as during a power failure at a data centre to prevent data being lost, or as a back-up power supply to a hospital or military application to ensure the continuity of vital services. Large scale batteries can also be used to plug short-term gaps in demand from the grid. These battery compositions can also be used in smaller sizes to power electric cars and may be further scaled down to power commercial products, such as phones, tablets, laptops, speakers and – of course – personal gas detectors.

Battery technologies can be segregated into four main categories:

Chemical – e.g. ammonia, hydrogen, methanol and synthetic fuel

Electrochemical – lead acid, lithium ion, Na-Cd, Na-ion

Electrical – supercapacitors, superconductive magnetic storage

Mechanical – compressed air, pumped hydro, gravity


Battery Storage

Gas Hazards in Batteries and Other Power Storage Sector


Typical processes and associated gas detection issues

Li-ion battery fires

A major concern arises when static electricity or a faulty charger has destroyed the battery’s protection circuit. Such damage can permanently fuse the solid-state switches into the ON position, without the user knowing. A battery with a faulty protection circuit may function normally, but it does not provide protection from short circuit.

At this point, a gas detection system can establish if there is a fault and may be used in a feedback loop to shut off power, seal the space and release an inert gas (such as nitrogen) into the area to prevent any fire or explosion.

Leakage of toxic gases prior to thermal runaway

Thermal runaway of lithium-metal and lithium-ion cells has caused numerous fires. Studies have found the fires to be fuelled by the flammable gases that are vented from the batteries during thermal runaway.

The electrolyte in a lithium-ion battery is flammable and generally contains lithium hexafluorophosphate (LiPF6) or other Li-salts containing fluorine. In the event of overheating, the electrolyte will evaporate and eventually be vented out from the battery cells. Researchers have found that commercial lithium-ion batteries can emit considerable amounts of hydrogen fluoride (HF) during a fire, and that emission rates vary for different types of battery and stateof-charge (SOC) levels. Hydrogen fluoride can penetrate skin to affect deep skin tissue and even bone and blood. Even with minimal exposure, pain and symptoms may not present for several hours, by which time damage is extreme.

Hydrogen and explosion risk

With hydrogen fuel cells gaining popularity as alternatives to fossil fuel, it is important to be aware of the dangers of hydrogen. Like all fuels, hydrogen is highly flammable and if it leaks there is real risk of fire.

Traditional lead acid batteries produce hydrogen when they are being charged. These batteries are normally charged together, sometimes in the same room or area, which can generate an explosion risk, especially if the room is not properly ventilated.

Most hydrogen applications cannot use odorants for safety, as hydrogen disperses faster than odorants do. There are applicable safety standards for hydrogen fuelling stations, whereby appropriate protective gear is required for all workers. This includes personal detectors, capable of detecting ppm level hydrogen as well as %LEL level. The default alarm levels are set at 20% and 40% LEL which is 4% volume, but some applications may wish to have a custom PPM range and alarm levels to pick up hydrogen accumulations quickly.

Products for Battery and other power storage

Portable Monitors

A compact and fully ruggedised single gas detector for the toughest of industrial environments.

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A multi gas detector offering 5 gas support as well as a dedicated pre-entry check mode and optional pump feature.

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Zone 0 approved personal protection solution for detecting the four most common gas hazards. Exclusively with long-life O2 and MPS sensor technologies.

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Tetra 3

Compact, robust and easy-to-use diffusion based detector.

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The standard 4 gas unit – now with added sensor technologies.

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Fixed Monitors

Fixed multi gas detector.

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Xgard Bright

Addressable fixed gas detector with screen. Now available with MPS technology.

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Sil2 certified, versatile and transmitter compatible fixed detector available with Alarm and Fault relays.

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Control Panels

Our most flexible gas controller package.

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Addressable Controllers

Local non-intrusive operation & display with simultaneous live reading display and alarm functions via colour LCD display.

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Compact, versatile and powerful gas detection control panel.

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Industry Insights

NMP Detection in China

Crowcon has successfully installed a NMP (N-Methyl-2-Pyrrolidone) vapour detection system in a Chinese lithium-ion manufacturing plant, using Xgard fixed heads and a Gasmaster controller.

Read more
Industry Overview: Battery Power

Batteries are effective at reducing power outages since they can also store excess traditional grid energy. The energy stored within batteries can be released whenever a large volume of power is needed. 

Read more
Battery Power Storage: Protecting People and Plant

Energy storage systems are essential to bolster global efforts to pursue alternative energy sources such as solar and wind to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

Read now