Q&A with Experts on Understanding Energy Storage Safety

Our audience members during our webinar, "Understanding Energy Storage Safety: Insights from Expert Researchers," shared some great questions. We wanted to respond to three key questions submitted by audience members during the live webinar. Safety is always a priority at IHI Energy Storage, and we're excited to share further insight into safety in energy storage systems.

Q: "How do you test thermal runaway in cells and modules?”

- Asit Rairkar, Samaasa Consulting, LLC

A: It’s important to note that the goal of these tests is to evaluate what happens once the cell is in thermal runaway, and therefore how you start thermal runaway shouldn’t be the focus of these tests. There are many ways to induce thermal runaway, and many ways to react. Evaluate what emergency responses work effectively to keep your systems safe.That being said, there are a variety of tests you can do to push a system into thermal runaway. UL testing outlines specific tests you can execute to evaluate your system’s response. These methods all push systems outside of their normal operating environments; for example, you can overcharge, overcurrent, or overtemperature a system to push it into thermal runaway and evaluate the results.There are also physical stress tests you can use, such as a penetration test – where you puncture a cell with a nail – or a crush test – where you crush part of a cell – to induce thermal runaway by physically damaging the system.Whatever method is used to induce thermal runaway, the results of stress tests should guide us towards more efficient ways to keep energy storage systems safe.

Q: "How much of the fire protection system do battery storage companies provide, and how much is the responsibility of the integrator or engineering consultant?”

- Stephen Swern, NV5

A: Every energy storage project is different! It’s important to begin by evaluating threats to life and safety of nearby assets, which affect what safety measures are required. System safety and fire protection should be discussed with the development team for every project. IHI Energy Storage provides product system guidelines based on selected batteries, PCS, and enclosure system for use by the EPC developers and system designers for project-specific emergency response planning.IHI Energy Storage believes the key to preventative safety lies in system control. Loss of system control turns safety threats into active dangers, and links threats together into a full-blown safety event. The reactive system controls IHI Energy Storage provides can prevent problems from escalating and snowballing. These advanced controls can be paired with off-gas detection, exhaust ventilation, and a fire suppression system. Industry safety regulations give guidelines for safety measures that can be included in system design.Safety measures don’t stop there. Collaboration with all project safety stakeholders throughout project design keeps safety top of mind and ensures emergency responses follow the correct process, safely. IHI Energy Storage maintains ongoing partnership and communication with customers to update safety standards and provide expertise on fire safety. Always be sure to check with your energy storage system provider and fully understand what safety measures can and should be implemented for your system.

Q: "For our advanced, smart systems, we don’t just worry about physical safety, but about cyber security too. How cyber secure are energy storage systems, and how is the industry addressing cyber security concerns?”

- Adam Turbett, Booz Allen Hamilton

A: In this technologically focused era, cybersecurity is top of mind for every connected system. IHI Energy Storage is strongly committed to creating safe and secure systems and has heavily invested resources in maintaining tight cybersecurity.IHI Energy Storage currently implements encryptions and firewalls at the local system network with SSL-based VPNs for all external communications with IHI Energy Storage network operations center (NOC). The NOC is protected by a host of processes and access control, and continuously monitors cyber security software vulnerabilities for remediation with a QA/patch framework. A penetration testing service will be integrated in 2020. IHI Energy Storage controls also monitor all external communications and will shut down if any communications are compromised, impaired, or broken, using application-level heartbeat signaling with embedded systems.In the industry at large, NERC has developed extensive codes and standards for critical component protection, including both physical and cyber security regulations. We expect that standards in the industry will be further developed and will guide further advancements in energy storage cybersecurity.

Interested in learning more about our approach to safety and our energy storage solutions? Reach out to sales@ihies.com or check out our webinar recording.