The Retrofit Companies Blog

Lithium Batteries Are a Fire Hazard


lithium ion battery

 

Is your business in need of a recycling program for lithium batteries? These popular batteries pose dangerous risks and are quickly piling up into hazardous, potentially explosive scenarios in nearly every business you can imagine.

 

Do I have Lithium Batteries?

Lithium batteries have become common in everyday items, powering our computers, cell phones, pace makers, clocks and even our vehicles; it is more likely than not that you have lithium ion batteries in your facility. They have become the new normal, however many are unaware of the risks that they pose and how to properly dispose of them. With such a large volume of these batteries everywhere, it is vitally important that you and your business are aware of how to properly handle lithium batteries.

 

Lithium Ion Batteries (1)Lithium Batteries are Commonly Found In:
 
  • Digital Cameras
  • Clocks
  • Computers
  • Cell Phones
  • Pace Makers
  • Watches
  • Thermometers
  • Laser Pointers
  • MP3 players
  • Calculators
  • Computer backup systems

 

Why are Lithium Batteries Dangerous?

These batteries are more likely to catch fire than other rechargeable batteries due to their chemistry, containing a flammable electrolyte. These batteries are also pressurized and pack more energy into a small space, causing them to be more popular but also more dangerous.

 

If the batteries have a flaw, are damaged, overcharged, packed too closely together or are exposed to high temperatures they can overheat. This can be a very dangerous situation where uncontrolled positive feedback can cause other nearby batteries to overheat, triggering a domino effect of what is known as "thermal runaway." 

 

How do I Properly dispose of them?

To avoid dangerous situations with your lithium batteries, be sure to follow proper disposal guidelines. For full details and up to date information on lithium battery regulations please visit the eCFR - Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. 

 lithium ion batteries

 

TRC can assist with properly disposing of your lithium ion batteries. Please click below to contact one of our team members and they will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Free Hazardous Waste Consultation

 

Top 5 Retrofit Companies Blog Posts You Loved The Most

Believe it or not, 2013 has reached the halfway mark. In that time, we've published a number of blog posts about industry topics like LED Lighting, How to Set Up Community Recycling Collections, Energy Saving Tips and more. But today, we're sharing the Top 5 Most Popular Posts of 2013 (so far). If you haven't seen them, yet, take a quick look now!

#5 LED Lighting History & Facts: An Abbreviated Wiki

Chances are you aren’t living in the dark, so you’ve seen and read all about LED lighting technology, how quickly it is changing the face of lighting, and you have likely noticed how expensive this solid state lighting can be. We wanted to share a short blog entry about the history of Light Emitting Diodes and some of the more pertinent technology facts that were consolidated from Wiki sources. We aren’t physicists, but we still think lighting can be interesting." (read more)

#4 Warehouse Retrofit Case Study: Why more lights aren't always better

"In one of our client case studies of factory space, energy-efficient T5 high bay fixtures were added alongside inefficient metal halides to try and remedy poor light levels. An unknowing lighting contractor was just compounding the problem...(read more)"

#3 True Cost of Lighting, Energy Saving Tips & Why MOA is full of bugs!

A simple post with 8 links you loved in May 2013. Including topics like Earth Day, What Makes LED Lighting Awesome, Why goats were at O'Hare Airport and your favorite link: Why Mall of America is Full of Ladybugs!

#2 Recharging your Knowledge of Recycling Batteries

"Recycling batteries is not as easy as placing old newspapers on a curb. Batteries contain toxic materials which can be harmful if exposed. As several unfortunate incidents have proven, even used batteries considered “dead” can be the source of fires when contacted by conductive materials. Proper, responsible disposal or recycling is a delicate matter whenever there is a potential threat to the environment or the safety of others. Like most potentially harmful wastes, (read more)"

#1 When Are Your Fluorescent Lights Being Discontinued?

"While the discontinued products may no longer be manufactured, they can still be sold until existing supplies are gone. In the meantime, consumers are likely to pay a premium for the lamps themselves, but also more in utility costs because these technologies use more energy. If you are using these lamps, (read more)"

 

What topics or posts have been your favorite? Tell us in the comments.

Recharging your Knowledge of Recycling Batteries

UPDATED AUGUST 2016  // ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED April 2013

safe-battery-recycling.jpg

Recycling batteries is not as easy as placing old newspapers on a curb. Apart from the energy they store, batteries can contain several toxic materials which are regulated by the EPA and the DOT can be harmful if exposed. As several unfortunate incidents have proven, even used batteries considered “dead” can be the source of fires when stored or transported incorrectly contacted by conductive materials. Proper, responsible disposal or recycling is a delicate matter whenever there is a potential threat to the environment or the safety of others. Like most potentially harmful wastes, The US Department of Transportation has developed laws in order to transport (dispose) of batteries safely.

Since the mid-1990’s TRC has gained expertise in the safe transportation of wastes ranging from toxic gases to Mercury containing lamps. Our recycling trucks have transported everything from old light bulbs to lead paint. This expertise and knowledge of waste handling and disposal regulations have helped our clients simplify the disposal and recycling process for all types of Universal and Hazardous waste. However, transporting waste is not always a simple task. There are many different regulations on state, county and federal levels, for many different forms of waste. Within the past few years, necessary precautions have been assigned to the transportation of a very common universal waste; batteries.

To help prevent accidents and spills, the DOT has come up with packaging requirements for the transportation of batteries.

  • All batteries must be separated by chemistry. For instance, alkaline batteries must be in a separate container than acidic batteries. Batteries have a higher chance of generating a spark with opposing chemistries.
  • Another requirement is protecting covering all battery terminals that exceed 9 volts to prevent short circuits. The battery electrical terminals are the main source of potential ignition when contacted by a conductive material. The DOT requires all terminals to be taped over, individually wrapped in plastic bags or insulated in another form in order to prevent a short circuit.

Once separated and protected, batteries must be containerized for transportation. Since most batteries are potentially harmful to the environment, DOT requires batteries meeting the definition of a hazardous material be shipped inDOT UN performance packaging. TRC has taken the guesswork out of selecting proper UN DOT approved packaging. We offer a wide range of packing to meet federal and state rules. If you have batteries which are too large for standard containers, (large sealed lead acid batteries), they can still be transported safely. Contact your sales representative and they will put you in touch with one of TRC’s transportation safety specialists, we're here to take the guesswork out of managing waste batteries and provide a safe outlet for proper transportation and recycling!

Free Hazardous Waste Consultation

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