Some insights on Marine risk from Allianz Global;
Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are increasingly impacting shipping safety as demonstrated by a number of fires on vessels such as roll-on roll-off (ro-ro) car carriers and container ships. Given the many difficulties involving in suppressing such incidents, particularly at sea, focusing on loss prevention measures is crucial, whether batteries are transported within electric vehicles (EVs) or as standalone cargo, according to a new report from marine insurer Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS).
“Shipping losses may have more than halved over the past decade but fires on board vessels remain among the biggest safety issues for the industry. The potential dangers that the transportation of lithium-ion batteries pose if they are not stored or handled correctly only add to these concerns, and we have already seen a number of incidents,” explains Captain Rahul Khanna, Global Head of Marine Risk Consulting at AGCS.
“Companies should do all that they possibly can to implement, develop and follow robust loss prevention measures, given the growing popularity of electric vehicles means many more vehicles with lithium-ion batteries will be transported by sea in future.”
Hazards and causes
The report Lithium-ion batteries: Fire risks and loss prevention measures in shipping highlights four main hazards: fire (Li-ion batteries contain electrolyte, an ignitable liquid); explosion (resulting from the release of ignitable vapor/gases in a confined space); thermal runaway (a rapid self-heating fire that can cause an explosion); and the toxic gases that these hazards can produce. The most common causes of these hazards are substandard manufacturing of battery cells/devices; over-charging of the battery cells; over-temperature by short circuiting, and damaged battery cells or devices, which, among other causes, can result from poor packing and handling or cargo shift in rough seas if not adequately secured.
EV CAR RISK
The report also highlights a number of measures that can help ensure safe storage of Li-ion batteries in warehouses, noting that large-format batteries, such as those used in EVs, ignite more quickly in a warehouse fire than smaller batteries used in smartphones and laptops.
Among others, recommendations include training staff in appropriate packing and handling procedures; establishing an emergency response plan to tackle damaged/overheating batteries and a hazard control plan to manage receiving, storage, dispatch and supervision of packaged Li-ion batteries; preventing the exposure of batteries to high temperatures and ensuring separation from other combustible materials; as well as prompt removal of damaged or defective Li-ion batteries.
The report and further materials are available for download here