If I hadn't been home sick a lithium ion battery would have burned my house down

MLB

Well-Known Member
So I've gotten pretty comfortable with LiFePO4 (the "safe" lithium ion) batteries and don't think a lot about them anymore.
Well today, a single 18650 cell rolled off a shelf where I keep them and my dog got it. She took it under my bed and gave it a chomp. It shows slight flattening on 2 'sides' where she bit, but very minor apparent damage.
Well it shorted or whatever happens and in seconds the entire battery was glowing bright red like you held a welding torch to it. The carpet 6" around it was in flames and the flames were licking the bottom of my 14" thick FOAM mattress.....
I was stepping into the shower when this went down and heard a noise and stuck my head out the bathroom door to see my dog running upstairs with her tail between her legs. I went to see what happened and it looked like a police crusier was parked outside the window but with yellow lights on.
I can tell you that seeing your bedroom on fire will get your attention very very quickly.
I dove down and used a magazine to put out the fire and flick the red hot battery across the room and out into the hall (no carpet) where it stayed red hot for another few minutes. 3 places in the carpet where it landed and instantly melted the carpet down to the backing. and melted a nice divot in the old linolium in the hall.
The power in that single cell was amazing. I cannot imagine how bad it would be to have 40 or 48 of them go up.
Any other day I would have been at work and my house would have burned down. With my dog in it. :(

My single cells are now out in the garage with my bike batteries. All of which will be receiving a combustion containing container real soon!
 
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Cnugget

Active Member
Holy Moly! :eek: I keep my bike and battery inside the house to protect it from bad weather and theft. Combustion containing container you say? o_O Ak! $ :confused:
 

MLB

Well-Known Member
Holy Moly! :eek: I keep my bike and battery inside the house to protect it from bad weather and theft. Combustion containing container you say? o_O Ak! $ :confused:

Metal trashcan with a lid works but takes up a lot of space. I'm gonna look at Harbor Freight for something cheap that is closer to the size needed.
 

Cnugget

Active Member
Metal trashcan with a lid works but takes up a lot of space. I'm gonna look at Harbor Freight for something cheap that is closer to the size needed.
Let me know if you find a genius solution. :D I don't want to burn my place down by accident. Yikers.
 

TheChosenOne

New Member
Could these batteries catch on fire if left alone and not in extreme heat or catch on fire when being charged? This topic got me paranoid
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
It's unlikely your 18650 cells were LiFePO4. Likely LiCoMn, like the cells in your Bosch/Haibike. Or one of the other hot chemistries. I'm not sure what your Falco has.

I've seen ads for really cheap, low power cells of various sizes claim LiFePO4, but the vast majority of LiFePO4 are large prismatic, pouch batteries.

As I understand it:
  • Safest lithium ion: LiFePO4
  • Most volatile: LiPo

All lithium batteries can suffer a melt down, fire or explosion. I had 2 S.F. CR123A lithium batteries in a flashlight explode on my nightstand in the middle of the night. I awoke thinking I was being shot at.

I guess the two points I'm trying to make are: 1. All these high tech batteries can fail and we need to respect them and learn how to treat them properly. For me, an explosion, for MLB a small fire. If you haven't had an accident, you don't have to. 2. Learn what cells are in your pack and learn the best way to treat them. There's probably 10 or 12 (maybe more) li-ion chemistries currently in use. I knew nothing at the time of my accident in the early 2000's.

http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/types_of_lithium_ion

Last but not least, @MLB glad you caught it before it got really bad.
 

Ann M.

Well-Known Member
OMG, @MLB, glad you and the pooch are alright! Yes, there are significant differences in the safety and volatility of the different Lithium chemistries and when any of them decide to ignite none of them are slow burners.
 

vincent

Well-Known Member
Crazy scary

I was just starting to look for some metal toolboxes to store the batteries inside the house in, have to get this done this week!

So glad everyone is ok
 

Ravi Kempaiah

Well-Known Member
Sorry to hear this, Mike!
Lenny lost close to 100 bikes this summer because of fire. Once the 18650's catch fire, they burn like crazy and suck all the oxygen.
Especially, if you have a big pack like 48V+...
I hope you don't store single cells like that.
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
So to prevent this just put it in a metal box?
Sounds like that could have the pressure cooker effect. But maybe if it is a sealed ammo can the batteries wouldn't be able to suck the oxygen to really start a big blaze?

Does anyone know where the Bosch batteries fit into the spectrum of safe to not so safe batteries? Just asking because I will probably end up buying a Bosch bike. Any other ideas on the best way to store these indoors?
 

MLB

Well-Known Member
Sorry to hear this, Mike!
Lenny lost close to 100 bikes this summer because of fire. Once the 18650's catch fire, they burn like crazy and suck all the oxygen.
Especially, if you have a big pack like 48V+...
I hope you don't store single cells like that.


I knew about the fire, but never gave cause a thought. Were batteries to blame?
 

Cameron Newland

Well-Known Member
Sounds like that could have the pressure cooker effect. But maybe if it is a sealed ammo can the batteries wouldn't be able to suck the oxygen to really start a big blaze?

Does anyone know where the Bosch batteries fit into the spectrum of safe to not so safe batteries? Just asking because I will probably end up buying a Bosch bike. Any other ideas on the best way to store these indoors?

Their battery packs are as safe as any well-designed lithium-ion battery packs are, however, their individual battery cells are just as volatile and imperfect as any high-volume branded lithium-ion cells are, and they'll go into thermal runaway state (think 900°F) if punctured, and can occasionally do the same during charging, too, but Bosch's battery packs have technology that's specifically built to counter some of these common causes of battery fires (short circuits, overcharging, et cetera). You should be fine, but ideally, you should have a smoke detector near your bike, you should have a dry chemical ABC-type fire extinguisher within reach, and your bike should be stored in a place such that if it starts a fire, you'll still be able to get out of your home safely. For instance, don't store your ebike right outside of your bedroom if your bedroom door is your only exit.

Another safety measure you could take would be removing your battery and putting it in your oven and charging it up inside your oven, as charging is one of the times when a battery is more likely to go into thermal runaway state. You'd want to put a sign on the oven to ensure that nobody turns on the oven while the battery is charging in there, though! :D
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
Current ebike battery pack cells are hotter than the ones used in this Grin Tech video of thermal runaway caused by shorting the output of the pack.

 

Over50

Well-Known Member
Their battery packs are as safe as any well-designed lithium-ion battery packs are...
Yikes. Thermal runaway state sounds ominous. How the heck does an e-bike store even get insurance? I didn't realize they were so volatile and then I see the posts in this forum about buying rebuilt batteries etc. Doesn't seem like an item one would want to go the cheap route with. Well, thanks for all the great info and suggestions. Definitely food for thought as to how to mitigate the risks.
 

Robie

Active Member
So glad you caught it in time and all are well. I keep my battery in an old BBQ pit my neighbor couple of houses down put out on the street for trash. I put in a big zip lock bag with some dessacant packets I found at The Container store.