Class, Industry and Regulators to Study Lithium Battery Safety
On Friday, DNV GL announced a joint partnership to study the safe use of lithium-ion batteries in shipping. The class society's partners in the effort include flag states, research institutions, battery and propulsion suppliers, fire system manufacturers, shipowners, vessel operators and yards. DNV GL says that the hope is to identify improvements not just for the batteries themselves, but for the associated systems, procedures, and approval processes.
"We put a great deal of effort into ensuring the safety of these new alternative systems, but the cost of the present safety and approval methodology is cumbersome. This collaborative effort gives a chance for an even greater level of safety," said Rasmus Nielsen, a naval architect and officer at project partner Scandlines.
The project's deliverables are focused on safety. Tasks include the development of a safety model based on prior knowledge; a concerted lithium-ion battery risk assessment; a battery safety testing program; battery simulation and analysis tool development; and implementing the findings.
“Including batteries in ships, whether as a hybrid or fully electric system, offers the industry the opportunity to improve fuel economy, reliability and operational costs,” says Geir Dugstad, Director of Ship Classification and Technical Director in DNV GL – Maritime. “For this technology to fully take hold, however, knowledge and requirements must be in place to ensure that we have products and a safety regime that address the concerns of all stakeholders while also creating the conditions for this technology to take off in the market.”
The project partners include the maritime authorities of Denmark and Norway; battery builders Corvus Energy and PBES; ABB and Rolls Royce Marine; DNV GL; ferry operators Stena and Scandlines; sensor and fire control firms FIFI4Marine and Nexceris; and shipbuilder Damen.
Safety incidents have occurred in many applications of lithium-ion batteries, from cutting-edge aircraft to everyday laptops and smartphones, and they have occurred in the maritime realm as well. Battery fires affected the first two hybrid-powered tugs in the U.S., the Carolyn Dorothy and the Campbell Foss, and both vessels were ultimately rebuilt with new batteries and safety systems. The U.S. Maritime Administration has published a comprehensive review of this retrofit project, based on the work conducted by Elliott Bay Marine Group, Foss Maritime, Aspin Kemp and others. The key safety changes to these two vessels included new, separate battery compartments; bulkhead-mounted rupture discs to safely vent these compartments in the event of an explosion; new air conditioning and air handling units; and new fire suppression systems.