In light of a recent fire at a battery recycling facility (not Toxco, this time) I think it is appropriate to emphasize the proper packaging and storage or lithium batteries. First, I would like to state for the record: If you are in the business of using, storing or making lithium batteries, you should expect a fire at some point. Most companies that have been in the business for 10 years know what I am talking about. Now with that fact out of the way, the first aspect to reduce the odds is to package the batteries correctly. The terminals should be taped or each battery should be placed in a thick plastic bag to eliminate the possibility of short circuiting. The best packaging is in a polypropylene lined metal drum. Cardboard shipping containers can also be used, but the safest (especially for other than new batteries) is a steel drum. Place the poly liner in the drum; then layer non flammable vermiculite (or other similar cushioning) and batteries until the drum is full. Make sure the vermiculite is between the edges of the drum and the batteries. The liner prevents shorting against the side of the drum and the cushioning prevents unnecessary stress on the battery during shipping. Once the drum is full, a lid and a locking ring should be put on the drum sealing it. Having done this, you have now isolated any fire to the inside of a single drum where it will do little damage. Store the drum(s) in a cool dry isolated area away from other flammable or combustible materials. A best scenario is an earthen covered concrete storage magazine. (Toxco has five of these). You could also use a metal container in an isolated area. The building should have sprinklers. This has normally been considered a wrong practice until the past 10 years due to the word “lithium” on the batteries. It is wrong to pour water on a lithium fire, but it is not wrong to pour water on a lithium battery fire. The majority of damage is not done by the burning battery; it is usually the result of packaging material - wooden packaging, paper and other combustibles in the area. Spraying water on the batteries will cool batteries which are not on fire. Also, wet down anything else in the area which may burn. I should also point out that even though copper fire extinguishers are recommended for lithium fires, you should never use this extinguisher on a lithium battery fire. The electrolytes in most primary lithium batteries will become acidic and react with copper to actually start a fire from the heat of the reaction. By following these simple instructions you will not eliminate the possibility of a fire, but you will limit the damage. These guides for packaging and storage will save you time and money in the long run.
On a different note: A man was in a pet store looking for a unique pet. The pet store owner said he had a magic centipede. He took out a small box and tapped on the side and said, “Good morning centipede how are you today?” The centipede responded with at least 5 minutes of discussion and amusing conversation. Astounded, the man bought the centipede and took the tiny box home. Later that evening, he tapped on the side of the box and said, “Hey centipede, lets go out for a quick snack.” There was no response from the box....Again he said, “Hey centipede, lets go out for a quick snack.” Again no response came from the box ....Feeling a little cheated he tapped vigorously on the side of the box and said loudly, “HEY CENTIPEDE, LETS GO OUT FOR A QUICK SNACK!” At this, he heard a tiny voice from the box that said, “Hold your horses I’m putting on my shoes....”
Dave Miller, V.P. Marketing and Sales