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Tough love for the industry's lithium addiction

Discussion in 'General Scuba Equipment Discussions' started by 2airishuman, Sep 4, 2019.

  1. BRT

    BRT Giant Squid

    Sure makes you think, doesn't it? I just inherited a 60 amp hour 24 volt lithium battery that was run below where the system could charge it and am trying to bring it back. Looks like there is nothing wrong with it but I'm charging it on a slab and unplugging it when we are not there.
  2. soldsoul4foos

    soldsoul4foos ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Portland, ME
    Exactly. All these places would at some point have caught on fire if Li Ion batteries did indeed make 'the sky fall' by now. I guess it's possible, but far to convenient and excuse for this recent catastrophe.
    VE7DAC likes this.
  3. Bob DBF

    Bob DBF Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: NorCal
    There is a difference between are SO dangerous, and can be dangerous. Not what happens in every case, but what can happen in the worst case with the wrong chain of events. Kind of like a pile of oily rags, in most cases nothing happens, however some times there is spontaneous combustion, no big deal if there is no other fuel around, but put it in a corner of the garage with some wood scraps and a gas can nearby... A fiberglass boat is a well built pile of wood scraps and unrecognized can of gas all rolled into one. Once a fire gets a started aboard a fiberglass boat, it is hard to impossible to stop, it's not unreasonable to take precautions with a source of ignition, whether a battery or a pile of rags, which may or may not start a fire.

    On a boat, you cannot just step outside and wait for the fire department to show up in a few minutes, there is no where to go but in the water and possibly wait hours for help. Because of that, anything that can be a fire hazard on a boat is controlled. Even back when everyone smoked, it was restricted to specific areas, and at times completely stopped throughout the entire boat, due to the possibility of fire.

    It is not unreasonable, once one knows there is an issue with batteries having the possibility of starting a fire, to mitigate the hazard for the safety of the boat and its passengers. Regardless of whether they were the cause of the Conception fire, or not.

    shoredivr, KWS and george_austin like this.
  4. soldsoul4foos

    soldsoul4foos ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Portland, ME
    I'm completely on board with all that. What I'm saying is for ALOT of people to just jump on the 'it must of been the batteries' train, is a little to easy. I'll be honest, I've heard maybe 'a little' about these batteries, but really it hasn't come across my radar much. Again, with all the charging going on in hotels and dive ops, you'd think it would happen with some regularity if these were all ticking time bombs.
    VE7DAC likes this.
  5. dmaziuk

    dmaziuk Orca

    $5 a pop: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GCHBQJS (and you may notice it says "Lipo", not "Li-Ion" but maybe some of 'em scooter batteries that may have been on that boat were Lipos) and if you place it on a table not made of and/or surrounded by dry kindling, you should be just fine.

    Now whether a pile of kindling with a built-in can of gas should come with fire protection and emergency exits that are only sufficient for when there is no actual fire is a question that has little to do with batteries.
  6. Popgun Pete

    Popgun Pete Barracuda

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Melbourne, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
    The houses are going up, but not in large enough numbers (yet) as chargers are usually not left on for days or running overnight. Plus many chargers are doing the job because they are legitimately protected units, as are the cells, but there are plenty of unprotected cells with the most simplistic chargers supplied with flashlights from China. On the cardboard box it may say "digitally intelligent" charger, or some grand sounding description, but the charger inside may be anything but, and you can search the box and item for a brand name or serial number and will find absolutely nothing. For a seldom charged unit they may not give any trouble, but used intensively they may conk out with dramatic results.
    Bob DBF and fmerkel like this.
  7. fmerkel

    fmerkel Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Salish Sea (Seattle)
    Lipo and Li-on (most of them) all have the same voltage 4.2v/cell fully charged. Lipo tend to be 'packs', often soft packs, and have a charging wire with a possible balance tap wire coming off them. The charger can be separate. With that setup it's easy to put the battery in a fireproof container, if it will fit.

    That doesn't work as well for Li-on cylinder batteries that are often charged in a charger holding 1>8 cells. Some cooling is desirable, even if passive. Putting them in a container like that would create another layer of problems.
  8. george_austin

    george_austin Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Los Angeles,CA. Alcoi, Espana, Los Barilles, Baja
    We don’t have to wait for the CG to issue new directives, recommendations and policy white papers regarding HAZMAT on commercial vessels with passengers.
    Boat owners and captains could just throw the breakers to all 120V outlets and lock up the panels. (sic) or remove all the wiring to all outlets. Tough love.
    shoredivr and Bob DBF like this.
  9. 2airishuman

    2airishuman Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Greater Minnesota
    Combination of reasons.

    - There are a large share of battery anomalies (overheat/fire/"rapid self-disassembly") that are resolved without escalating to the point where they are reported as fires. There are, for example, quite a few reports of battery fires (etc) in the vaping community.
    - As noted upthread, very few consumer products outside the SCUBA space use loose 18650 cells with separate chargers. Most consumer products use assembled packs that incorporate thermal protection. Most cheaper devices charge the batteries at modest rates. The major consumer devices -- phones, laptops, power tools -- are manufactured or sold at retail by well established corporations. The liability exposure helps make sure they build devices responsibly.
    - Statistics lag reality by several years. Residential structure fire statistics are dominated by a handful of perennial bugaboos -- unattended cooking, cigarette smoking in bed, candles, malfunctioning heating appliances, electric wiring, arson. It will take a lot of battery fires to compete.
    KWS likes this.
  10. djcheburashka

    djcheburashka Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: San Francisco, CA
    This seems to me to plainly be correct.

    One way of addressing fire safety is by eliminating all ignition sources. But eliminating lithium batteries from boats doesn't eliminate, or even reduce by much, the number of ignition sources. Chargers are a much bigger risk than the batteries, and that risk is present regardless of battery chemistry.

    There are other ways to address fire safety. One is to eliminate fuel. On a liveaboard, that's things like the bedding, making sure they're fire retardant.

    Another is, escape routes and firefighting equipment. As in, don't stuff 36 (or 24, or 12) people into a space that's so tight that if there's a fire, there's no place for them to go. Don't have both your escape routes lead to the same place, so if the fire is there, there's no place for the passengers to escape *to*. And don't have a secondary escape route so small and inconveniently placed, that it would take passengers who aren't panicking because of a fire an hour to get them all through it.
    KenGordon and VE7DAC like this.

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