The UK Chamber of Shipping has established an ad hoc working group to gain a comprehensive understanding of the risks associated with lithium ion batteries (LIBs).
he group is to examine various aspects of batteries, including how to guard against such batteries going into thermal runaway and catching fire. The group has participants from the Chamber membership, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and expert specialists. It is aiming to develop:
- Proposals for regulations relating to the carriage of LIBs on ships
- Recommendations for training and information for ships’ crews
- Procedures for detecting damaged or faulty LIBs
- Equipment that can be used in ports and on ships to help manage the risks effectively.
The carriage, stowage, and safety of electric vehicles is an issue the shipping industry aims to tackle. Lately, in order to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and accelerate the energy transition, the marine industry has begun to incorporate batteries onboard ships. However, for marine stakeholders, batteries present both a unique set of opportunities and a challenge.
Batteries can be very dangerous cargo if not handled properly. Some of the reasons include:
- Fire (Li-ion batteries contain electrolyte, an ignitable liquid);
- Explosion (resulting from the release of ignitable vapor/gases in a confined space);
- Thermal runaway (a rapid self-heating fire that can cause an explosion);
- Toxic gases that these hazards can produce.