The Hazardous Life Cycle of Batteries
Our team attended the 40th Annual International Battery Seminar & Exhibit in Orlando, FL. Maria Koulopoulos and I enjoyed learning about topics related to battery research and development, manufacturing, engineering, and applications.
THE THREE STAGES OF THE BATTERY CYCLE
One topic that stood out to us was the battery life cycle, and the hazards associated with each phase. The three phases include:
- Manufacturing of batteries: In a battery manufacturing facility, some of the hazards include chemical exposure, fire and explosion, and electrical hazards. The chemicals used to manufacture batteries (like lead and lithium) can be dangerous if not properly handled. The manufacturing process also involves volatile and explosive materials, like solvents, that are dangerous. And the facility itself uses high voltage equipment that are electrical hazards if not properly designed and operated.
- Use and storage of batteries: After being manufactured, batteries need to be used and stored safely because they remain flammable and explosive. For example, they can explode if they are short-circuited, punctured, or exposed to heat. What we’ve learned is that lithium-ion batteries, popular in electric vehicles, are particularly prone to setting on fire.
- Disposal and recycling of batteries: Batteries contain chemicals that pose risks to both the environment and people, so the proper disposal of them at the end of their life cycle is important. Designated hazardous waste sites and regulations for the disposal of specific types of batteries are important in making this stage safer.
What we know is that battery technology is new and quickly changing. By having a well-designed manufacturing, storage, or disposal facility, people can be better prepared for the impact of these varying technologies and changes in the industry. They can maintain a safer environment. As engineers and consultants who understand batteries and associated hazard requirements, we can support safe design throughout this life cycle.
We also have a webinar on April 13, Think Positive: Designing Battery Manufacturing Facilities Safely, which delves more into the constructability of manufacturing facilities and addresses some of the challenges we’ve seen through our work. To be part of the conversation, please register here! Or if you’d like to learn more about where we’ll be next, visit our events page.