Study safety alert over second-life domestic BESS batteries

Study safety alert over second-life domestic BESS batteries

Study safety alert over second-life domestic BESS batteries 400 400 Energy Storage Journal

February 16, 2023: Second-life lithium ion batteries should not be deployed in domestic energy storage systems under any circumstances, according to one of the findings of a UK study.

The study, commissioned by the Office for Product Safety and Standards from Newcastle University and published on January 30, said although few incidents of thermal runaway with domestic lithium ion battery energy storage systems are known publicly, such events could lead to fires, releases of toxic gas or explosions.

According to the study, extensive talks with stakeholders revealed two opposing views on second-life batteries.

First, that a safety framework could be put in place to allow the use of second-life lithium ion batteries in domestic battery energy storage systems, “so long as the full history of the batteries in their first life applications is known or they can be tested effectively”.

But a second, “more radical view” by some respondents, was that the safety of such cells could never be guaranteed and “second-life lithium ion batteries should not be employed under any circumstances in domestic battery energy storage systems”.

The study said potential stricter requirements for home-built domestic energy storage systems that use second-life batteries should be considered. This is because of the risk of fire and electrical hazards, the availability of potentially untested second-life batteries and the potential lack of knowledge, such as battery aging and the skills of consumers to mitigate the risk through testing and good system design.

There are no UK or European standards specifically for second-life lithium ion batteries although the British Standards Institution is developing standards to address this gap, the study said.

Contributors to the study included representatives from more than 30 organizations such as BESS and EV manufacturers and suppliers, industry associations, battery recyclers, research institutes, public and government bodies, product safety experts, and standards bodies.

The study is available online.