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Safety solutions for lithium-ion battery gigafactories

20 February 2023

HUGHES SAFETY Showers provides an insight on electrifying safety solutions for lithium-ion battery gigafactories.

Lithium-ion battery manufacturing in Europe has boomed in recent years. The continent is currently home to several gigafactories with plans to triple these figures by 2025. The increase in demand is a result of Europe’s commitment to the rollout of more electronic vehicles, including the British government’s policy stating all new cars for sale must be electric vehicles by 2040, with a complete national ban on internal combustion engine vehicles by 2050.

Lithium batteries are formed of four main components. The capacity and voltage of the battery is determined by the cathode and is the source of the lithium ions. The ions are stored in the anode, which enables the electric current to flow through an external circuit when the battery is charged. The separator is a physical barrier that keeps the cathode and anode apart. Finally, the electrolyte acts as a conduit of lithium ions between the cathode and anode. Before the battery can be sold, the factory must charge and test the unit to identify any faults. A battery can become faulty when mishandled, overcharged, short-circuited, or heated up, leading to issues such as the battery walls expanding, splintering, and even some of the internal compounds leaking.

RELATED: International Compliance Standards

The electrolyte is formed from a mix of organic compounds such as salts and solvents. When contained inside the battery unit, the electrolyte does not pose an immediate risk. However, if the battery is faulty or improperly handled this can cause these solvents to leak. Due to the highly flammable and corrosive nature of the solvents involved, this would then immediately endanger those in the vicinity. During the drying process, the electrode is dried in extremely high temperatures with little to no humidity. While the use of PPE is imperative throughout the manufacturing process of lithium batteries, emergency procedures must be in place for an accidental leak.

To thoroughly decontaminate in the event of a corrosive spill, EN15154 regulations specify the uninterrupted flushing of the skin, or eyes, for at least fifteen minutes. The Hughes multi-nozzle cubicle shower is a plumbed-in unit that ensures the casualty is decontaminated from multiple angles at a flow rate of 115 litres per minute, while the integral drainage sump contains the contaminated water for disposal after use.

For routine PPE decontamination, and for use in the drying rooms, Hughes offer a range of units to protect workers and prolong the use of their life-saving protective equipment. The STD-SD-31K/V provides a two-stage wash down of PPE and features both an overhead shower rose and detergent inducer and hose brush for an additional manual wipe-down.  The unit is combined with a sump to easily contain and dispose of the contaminated water after use.

To protect your workers against unprecedented chemical spills, contact Hughes today to find the appropriate solution for you.