DNV GL has released a new report that assesses explosion and fire risks in maritime battery installations, as well as the effectiveness of fire extinguishing systems in the event of a battery fire.
The three-year study drew on the experiences of a range of leading maritime organisations, including the Norwegian Maritime Authority, Danish Maritime Authority, US Maritime Administration (MARAD), Kongsberg Maritime, ABB, Stena and Damen.
The report presents the results of research on what happens during a fire in a battery compartment and the usefulness of various extinguishing systems in combating the fire and preventing explosions.
“Batteries onboard ships are environmentally friendly and cost-effective solutions that we want to see more of in the future,” says Lars Alvestad of the Norwegian Maritime Authority. “This research project has been important in learning the risks of these systems and using new insights to improve safety requirements."
One of the most important findings concerns ventilation systems, which are critical to avoiding an accumulation of explosive gas.
The report concludes that ventilation alone will not adequately mitigate gas accumulation if a significant portion of the battery system ignites.
"In addition to fire suppression and ventilation, the battery design must have preventative safety barriers so that the fire and gas emissions are limited to as small a part of the battery system as possible," says Henrik Helgesen, a senior consultant at DNV GL.
The researcher used a newly created computer model which identifies the appropriate size and type of a ventilation system based on a vessel’s battery installation.
“It is very important for us to work closely with all parts of the marine industry and understand the full picture as we work to promote safety in our regulatory development work,” adds Denis Cederholm-Larsen, senior ship surveyor at the Danish Maritime Authority.