Samsung SDI Fights ESS Fires Before They Even Happen

A series of fires that hit energy storage systems (ESS) over the past few years leading Samsung SDI to take preemptive steps in an effort to restore the ESS industry, the company said Monday.

The electric vehicle (EV) battery maker announced that its executives came up with a set of improved safety measures to ease tension over ESS safety, though EV batteries are not a significant cause of fires.

Safety measures include the utilization of a unique fire extinguishing system for ESSs.

The company said it created a new method designed to stop the fire’s progress even after unforeseen factors cause the ignition.

The SDI will use the system to its new line of products and existing ESS facilities while taking responsibility for the entire cost, estimated at around 200 million won ($170 million).

Lim Young-ho said during a media briefing in Seoul, “We will swiftly apply the special fire extinguishing system to all ESS sites in Korea that use our ESS cells and modules.” He also added, “We will continue to redouble our efforts to develop safe and reliable ESSs.” Lim Young-ho is the executive vice president who leads the ESS business and automotive unit at Samsung SDI.

The firm applied its leading technologies to advance the unique fire extinguishing system comprised of complex chemicals and fire blocking materials able to extinguish flames swiftly, even if a single battery cell catches on fire.

Fires destroyed more than 20 ESSs in the country since 2017, which hit hard for the nation’s ESS producers, including LG Chem and Samsung SDI.

A civilian-government committee announced its findings in June after a months-long investigation into the occurrences, but fell short of revealing the exact origin of the fires, only saying there might be “complex causes” to them.

Only making the situation worse, three more fire incidents occurred at ESS sites after the announcement.

Samsung SDI launched its lithium battery ESS in 2010 based on the world’s greatest technology of small-sized lithium-ion rechargeable battery. The technology can meet various needs of the customers and provides customized solutions for the multiple purposes of the electric power market.

An ESS is a stack of rechargeable batteries that is efficient in power distribution. It is often used for storing electricity from solar, wind, or other intermittent power generators coupled with cheap off-peak electricity.

In a bid to prevent ES fires, safety devices are already developed by Samsung SDI to protect the batteries from electrical impact. Sensors are also designed to identify any external shock to the batteries during transport.

Samsung SDI CEO Jun Young-hyun commented, “As a global company, we have the responsibility of taking proactive measures regardless of the cause of fires.” He added, “We hope our measures will contribute to restoring trust in the ESS industry.”

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