lithium batteries in Malta are an essential component of most modern electronics and power sources. They store a huge amount of energy in a relatively small volume and are extremely versatile.
However, lithium batteries also present both chemical (e.g. flammable electrolyte) and electrical hazards, especially when they fail or malfunction. In extreme cases this can lead to thermal runaway and combustion.
Lithium-ion batteries have a much higher energy storage capacity per unit mass and volume than lead-acid, nickel-metal hydride or nickel-cadmium battery types. This is largely due to the fact that they produce more voltages than their other secondary battery counterparts and their electrolytes deteriorate at a lower rate.
Unlike lead-acid batteries, lithium batteries do not contain poisonous elements like cadmium or mercury and are non-toxic. This makes them safer for both the environment and human use, as well as being much more efficient. They also have a longer cycle life than their VRLA counterparts and are more stable at higher temperatures.
Lithium electric forklift trucks are gaining popularity, as more warehouse professionals become aware of their benefits over traditional diesel trucks. This includes less downtime for operations and reduced maintenance costs. They also reduce pollution and emissions in the workplace. Lithium batteries are also lighter and smaller than VRLA batteries, which saves space and requires fewer cooling systems.
Lithium-ion batteries are widely used in mobile electronics, EVs and energy storage applications. They are also a key enabler for the upcoming global shift to fossil-free energy. In fact, the 2019 Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded to scientists who worked on developing this rechargeable battery technology.
This type of battery is commonly found in cellphones, power tools, digital cameras and laptops, as well as e-cigarettes and electric vehicles. However, it is important to remember that these batteries are considered dangerous goods and must be shipped and carried in accordance with the applicable regulations.
When choosing a lithium battery, it is important to look for one with a high energy efficiency. This means that more of the battery’s capacity is able to be utilized, as opposed to lead acid batteries, which only retain about 80 percent of their total capacity. This higher effectiveness can significantly reduce downtime and maximize productivity in your warehouse. It can also reduce your demand charges on your electrical bill, saving you money over time.
Lithium batteries are bonded to their hardware so they are not easy to separate and process. They are a serious electrical hazard and should only be processed by a waste battery recycling centre that has the proper permits in place for this type of work.
If lithium batteries aren’t properly dismantled and handled, the cells can become damaged or short-circuited – resulting in thermal runaway, which is an uncontrollable exothermic reaction that generates massive amounts of heat and flammable gas. The result is a fire that is almost impossible to put out with traditional fire-extinguishing systems.
The risk of lithium battery fires is one of the main reasons why yachts have to carefully consider the size, layout and design of their garages/storage spaces. To help address this issue, Transport Malta has issued a Safety Notice, which all crew should be aware of and follow.
While headlines about smartphones igniting, laptops exploding and hoverboards smoking may give lithium batteries a bad reputation, it is important to understand that these malfunctions are rare. In fact, lithium-ion packs typically operate for years with no apparent loss in performance or capacity.
Battery safety features are built into each pack and include cell protection circuits that limit the peak voltage during charge, limit the maximum allowable discharge current and monitor the battery temperature. These are all important features that help reduce the possibility of thermal runaway.
However, it is still important to protect the battery from shock and vibration. This includes storing it in an area that is not subject to high temperatures or flammable materials and only using equipment that is designed for lithium batteries. Also, it is important to inspect the battery for signs of mechanical damage that could lead to unwanted chemical reactions and thermal runaway. Batteries with a high equivalent lithium content (determined by cell capacity and battery pack assembly) are considered dangerous goods and must be shipped as class 9 miscellaneous hazardous material.