Stay Safe with Lithium Batteries

 

Lithium batteries have become the industry standard rechargeable storage device. They are common to University operations and used in many research applications. Lithium-ion battery fires and accidents are on the rise; however, the risk can be mitigated.

EH&S recommends faculty, staff and students take precautions to help prevent fire, injury and loss of intellectual and other property. The following best practices may help reduce the possibility of a reaction, fire or explosion when handling, charging, storing or disposing of lithium-ion batteries:

Procurement

  • Purchase batteries from a reputable manufacturer or supplier.

Storage

  • Store batteries away from combustible materials.
  • Remove batteries from the device for long-term storage.
  • Store the batteries at temperatures between 5°C and 20°C (41°F and 68°F).
  • Separate fresh and depleted cells (or keep a log).
  • If practical, store batteries in a metal storage cabinet.

Chargers and Charging Practice

  • To charge cells safely, use chargers or charging methods designed for battery packs at the specified parameters.
  • Remove cells and battery pack from chargers promptly after charging is complete. Do not use the charger as a storage location.
  • Charge and store batteries in a fire-retardant container like a high quality Lipo Sack when practical.
  • Do not overcharge (greater than 4.2V for most batteries) or over-discharge (below 3V) batteries.

Handling and Use

  • Handle batteries and/or battery-powered devices cautiously to not damage the battery casing or connections.
  • Keep batteries from contacting conductive materials (e.g., water, seawater, strong oxidizers and strong acids).
  • Do not place batteries in direct sunlight, on hot surfaces or in hot locations.
  • Inspect batteries for signs of damage before use. Never use damaged or puffy batteries; promptly dispose of them.

Disposal

  • Dispose of damaged cells and cells that no longer hold a substantial charge. To check the general condition of your cells, charge them and let them rest for an hour, then measure the voltage. If your cells are close to 4.2 V the cells are in good condition.
  • Dispose of used batteries by taking them to an e.Media bin (if less than five pounds) or by completing a Online Chemical Waste Collection Request.

For additional information on lithium battery safety, please see the Lithium Battery Safety white paper.

lithium ion battery
Lithium-ion battery. Photo by Kristoferb