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What should you do if you have a Lithium ion Battery Fire?

I remember my science teacher throwing lithium into the pool at school, the reaction was ferocious, which got me thinking about how I would deal with a fire in my van when I am repairing iPhones.

What precautions should I take and what do you believe is the best way to extinguish a Lithium ion Battery Fire?

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In addition to the great contributions already here, here is something directly from Battery University which has tons of great info on Lithium batteries.

If a Li-ion battery overheats, hisses or bulges, immediately move the device away from flammable materials and place it on a non-combustible surface. If at all possible, remove the battery and put it outdoors to burn out. You may also put the device outside and keep it there of a least 6 hours.

A small Li-ion fire can be handled like any other combustible fire. For best result use a foam extinguisher, CO2, ABC dry chemical, powdered graphite, copper powder or soda (sodium carbonate). Halon is also used as fire suppressant.

FAA instructs flight attendants to use water or soda pop to extinguish a fire in the cabin. Water-based products are most readily available and are appropriate since Li-ion contains very little lithium metal that reacts with water. Water also cools the adjacent area and prevents the fire from spreading. Research laboratories and factories use water to extinguish small Li-ion fires.

A large Li-ion fire, such as an EV, may need to burn out as water is ineffective. Water with copper material can be used, but this may not be available and is costly for fire halls. When encountering a fire with a lithium-metal battery, only use a Class D fire extinguisher. Lithium-metal contains lithium that reacts with water and makes the fire worse. Only use the Class D fire extinguisher on lithium fires.

''CAUTION Do not use a Class D fire extinguisher to put out other types of fires; make certain regular extinguishers are also available. With all battery fires, allow ample ventilation while the battery burns itself out.''

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Actually, class D fire extinguishers are not to be used for lithium ion battery fires! Please see link here, Class B fire extinguishers are the proper ones to use: https://resources.fireprotec.com/how-do-...

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Thanks for the input. I just quoted what I found on BatteryUniversity. However, it does say to use Class D on Lithium-Metal batteries, not Lithium-Ion. For Li-Ion, it does recommend ABC extinguishers.

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iFixit’s Techwriting team whipped up this document a while back which might have some useful tips: What to do with a swollen battery

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YES! Well written!

@kadan - We should create links to this guide throughout all of the devices that have Lithium Ion Batteries

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Stick it in a bucket of sand. Old Boy Scout solution ;-)

UPDATE

When camping, we always kept a bucket of sand just out side the tent just in case.

The kitty litter box would also work. I keep a nice looking small stainless steel trash can by my soldering and hot air bench just in case I start an unwanted fire. Some sand in the bottom might be something I want to add.

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I work on a towel, so as to stop screws from bouncing when they get dropped, I don't know if I would have the time to do that. I am also concerned I may burn myself and am concerned about fumes in an inclosed space. Are there not any other options?

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Dry chemical extinguisher also works ;-}

The worse is the fumes and getting burnt

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I was thinking of keeping a gas mask handy

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The batteries swell up, fortunately there are things in place to contain the gases and keep the lithium from burning. The outer skin of the battery is pretty tough and can expand. The key thing is to keep oxygen away from the lithium and the gases, if it is NOT on fire and is not too warm, then it would be safe to drop it in a bucket of oil (vegetable oil works). If it is on fire a CO2 extinguisher may help.

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Oil would make a mess and it could ignite! Not a good idea.

I'll stick with a dry chemical extinguisher.

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“For best results dowsing a Li-ion fire, use a foam extinguisherCO2, ABC dry chemical, powdered graphite, copper powder or soda (sodium carbonate) as you would extinguish other combustible fires. Reserve the Class D extinguishers for lithium-metal fires only. “

https://batteryuniversity.com/learn/arti...

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powdered graphite or copper would create issues getting into electronics as both are conductive. Sodium carbonate is Ionic and corrosive! which would be difficult to clean up.

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@danj I think the higher priority is to extinguish the fire though.

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This person is using a van as a repair lab. so we need to think things out in the context.

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