Stat-X® Fire Suppression: Battery Energy Storage Systems

Stat-X® Fire Suppression: Battery Energy Storage Systems
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Stat-X® Fire Suppression

Battery Energy Storage Systems

What Is a Battery Energy Storage System?

A battery energy storage system (BESS) is well defined by its name. It is a means for storing electricity in a system of batteries for later use. As a system, BESSs are typically a collection of battery modules and load management equipment. BESS installations can range from residential-sized systems up to large arrays of BESS containers supporting a utility grade wind farm or grid services.

BESSs are installed for a variety of purposes. One popular application is the storage of excess power production from renewable energy sources. During periods of low renewable energy production, the power stored in the BESS can be brought online. Two common types of BESSs are lead-acid battery and lithium-ion battery types. Both essentially serve the same purpose. However, approximately 90% of BESS systems today are of the lithium ion variety. Lithium-ion batteries are so well adopted because they provide a high energy density in a small, lightweight package and require little maintenance.

Lithium-ion batteries contain a positive cathode and a negative anode. Lithium ions move from the negative anode to the positive anode during discharge and back when charging. This mechanism is immersed in an ion-conducting electrolyte. The electrolyte is a low viscosity flammable liquid solvent.

Taken together in a housing or container, the lithium-ion batteries are called “cells.” A BESS can contain dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of cells to store energy. The cells are typically packed in modules held in racks, and the racks are normally stored in shipping-container-type structures. Obviously, residential models are much smaller and are often installed in a home garage or basement.

What Is the Fire Risk with a Lithium-Ion BESS?

Any time a large amount of energy is squeezed into a tight space, there is a risk that it will escape in an uncontrolled manner. When this happens, fire is a common result and explosions are possible.

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