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Old Aug 09, 2004, 09:50 PM
...still seeking PyrE
Long Island's North Shore
Joined Aug 2003
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Scarey Lipo Loss and Fireworks

Just finished dealing with my first Lipo loss by first puffing during charge, and fire/sparks, and smoke, after sitting in salt water.
Was charging normally with Astro 109 - Etec 1200, 3s/1p pack - 2 years old, about 70 cycles, and gentle use. Was 10 feet away and noticed odd odor and slight puffing. Charger was in 3rd stage and pack was very slightly warm when touched a few minutes before; this was obviously a warning and should have triggered some recognition of problem, but didn't. Puffing and odor increased rapidly as charger was disconnected - with full face mask and heavy welding gloves. There were some fluid spots in the pyrex pan as the battery, still in the pan was carried outside. The battery was dumped into a plastic container filled with about 40 ounces of heavily salted water, and within 10-15 seconds spouted flame and heavy gray smoke, looking somewhat like a strong roman candle. Sparks reached about 12-15 inches up and arrayed evenly for about 5-6 seconds. The water, the visible top part of the container, and the ground around were black, and the container was moderately hot. I was both amazed and horrified to realize that the flames/sparks, and the smoke had been coming up from the bottom of the container; heck of a way to boil water! Yes it did later occur to me that perhaps the pack should not have been placed in the water at that time, but the puffing., the odor, and liquid spots were quite unnerving, and rational thinking was at least a few minutes away, and what would the alternative have been?
For me after using only Lipos for about 2-years, and collecting about 40 packs (2s and 3s- 830 to 1200, early ones assembled from cells, later ones made by others, as was the one that burned), how careful one must be at all times with this technology.
This reiterates, and brings into sharp focus all of the experiences and warnings posted here and elsewhere regarding the use and care of Lithium Ion batteries, in whatever form they happen to be.
Please think about what you're doing and be careful.
Stew
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Old Aug 09, 2004, 09:58 PM
kit
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Well now....... That changes everything. Everyone had been saying that a lipo needed an outside O2 source to burst into flame. You have just proven that to be untrue. You've also disproved the theory that you could use water to put out a lipo fire. Back to the drawing board.
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Old Aug 09, 2004, 10:07 PM
Good Better Best quest.
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Australia, VIC, Cranbourne East
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maybe

a bucket of sand could be a safety solution, might help contain the polution also . glad no one or anything was hurt tho.
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Old Aug 09, 2004, 10:27 PM
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Illinois
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A friend had a LiPo Kokam 1500 3s1p charging on his Triton , on his living room table.

He went to sleep in a bedroom down the hall.

Smoke detector alerted him to his house on fire 45 minutes later. Not a total loss, but the front half of the house was badly damaged.

He figures he may have inadvertantly rotated the dial on the triton while pushing down to start the charge cycle.

He has 2 years experience with these batteries and one mistake almost cost him everything.

I charge mine in a Pyrex dish with 3/4 sand on bottom , and plastic bag with sand on top..about 1 1/2 inches thick. Supposedly this is supposed to be the safe way. I don't want to find out. I read somewhere that there is video of this method and a deliberatly overcharged Lipo letting go....maybe on Heli hobby , I can't remember.

WOW....glad no one was hurt. I have a pack that is acting up, and I am going to box it up and trash it in the fire pit outside. No chances.

FIre shooting up from under water is bad mojo.
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Old Aug 09, 2004, 10:58 PM
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Cliffside Park, NJ
Joined May 2003
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Stew was this pack ever in a hard crash or was it ever over discharged in the past? Can you think of any reason why this might of happened? I just can't believe a normal pack with no physical / chemical damage can just burn up for no obvious reason. Maybe the Astro 109 malfunctioned? Man these are the kind of stories that really bother me about lipos. Scary to say the least.
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Old Aug 09, 2004, 11:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeFlier
The battery was dumped into a plastic container filled with about 40 ounces of heavily salted water, and within 10-15 seconds spouted flame and heavy gray smoke, looking somewhat like a strong roman candle. Sparks reached about 12-15 inches up and arrayed evenly for about 5-6 seconds. The water, the visible top part of the container, and the ground around were black, and the container was moderately hot. I was both amazed and horrified to realize that the flames/sparks, and the smoke had been coming up from the bottom of the container; heck of a way to boil water!
Let me get this straight: The battery was submerged in water (how deep?) and yet flames shot out through the water? Sounds odd. Or was the battery a "floater"?
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Old Aug 10, 2004, 01:57 AM
Striving to Rip the Bring
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kit
Well now....... That changes everything. Everyone had been saying that a lipo needed an outside O2 source to burst into flame. You have just proven that to be untrue. You've also disproved the theory that you could use water to put out a lipo fire. Back to the drawing board.
I was arguing could happen that a while back. Elemental lithium burns like hell (hotter than magnesium), and burns alot faster under water. But everyone says "no, its only a lithium compound". Well, why does it burn white then? The anion is Li!

--Alex
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Old Aug 10, 2004, 03:00 AM
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United States of America For Which We Stand!
Joined Jan 2004
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VBSuperMaxx
A friend had a LiPo Kokam 1500 3s1p charging on his Triton , on his living room table.

He went to sleep in a bedroom down the hall.

Smoke detector alerted him to his house on fire 45 minutes later. Not a total loss, but the front half of the house was badly damaged.

He figures he may have inadvertantly rotated the dial on the triton while pushing down to start the charge cycle.

He has 2 years experience with these batteries and one mistake almost cost him everything.

I charge mine in a Pyrex dish with 3/4 sand on bottom , and plastic bag with sand on top..about 1 1/2 inches thick. Supposedly this is supposed to be the safe way. I don't want to find out. I read somewhere that there is video of this method and a deliberatly overcharged Lipo letting go....maybe on Heli hobby , I can't remember.

WOW....glad no one was hurt. I have a pack that is acting up, and I am going to box it up and trash it in the fire pit outside. No chances.

FIre shooting up from under water is bad mojo.

This guy had 2 years experience with Li-Po's and didn't check the charger to see that it was at the proper rate, and voltage setting? Didn't supervise the ramp up? Didn't heed the warnings about not charging or storing batteries around flammables? Didn't contain them? Didn't supervise them? Then on top of that went to sleep?!? That's not a mistake, that's just a setup for a disaster! Going to sleep with them charging in your house is attempted suicide! I don't think your friend had any experience at all even if he had been using them 2 years. I hate to hear that his house was damaged, but it wasn't because of a mistake, it was because he didn't heed the warnings.
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Old Aug 10, 2004, 03:09 AM
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Flames are just red hot particles of soot: smoke is cooler soot and vapour. There is enough energy in a pack to get it hot enough to produce 'flames' under water. Whether that is 'burning' is a moot point.
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Old Aug 10, 2004, 05:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by olmod
a bucket of sand could be a safety solution, might help contain the polution also . glad no one or anything was hurt tho.
I BELEIVE that Lipo's are biodegradeable, even though the solder to build the pack is not. Sounds kinda odd, but I've read that someplace I don't remember where.

--Alex
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Old Aug 10, 2004, 06:20 AM
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Old Aug 10, 2004, 06:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeFlier
... Puffing and odor increased rapidly as charger was disconnected ...The battery was dumped into a plastic container filled with about 40 ounces of heavily salted water, and within 10-15 seconds spouted flame and heavy gray smoke ... Yes it did later occur to me that perhaps the pack should not have been placed in the water at that time, but the puffing., the odor, and liquid spots were quite unnerving ...
Stew
Salt in the water probably contributed to the thermal runaway - it effectively shorted the already overheated pack.

In this case, the pack eventually burned outside the house, so no collateral damage occurred. When charged in a closed Brinks Box or the like, problems with the pack might have gone unnoticed, and the pack might have burned in the house - no fire damage, but plenty of soot and smoke.

It's not available to everybody, but when it is, charging in a Brinks Box or the like, in a fireplace may offer an extra level of protection against smoke damage in the house. Charging outside would be even better.

Once again, it's wothwhile to observe, I think, that this fire ocuured with a series-charged pack.

So far as I know, no pack set up for individual or parallel-cell charging has ever caught fire while charging.

- RD
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Old Aug 10, 2004, 07:17 AM
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Woodridge, Illinois
Joined May 2000
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FreeFlier,
Was the cause determined? Was the charge rate correct? Just wondering...
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Old Aug 10, 2004, 08:35 AM
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Illinois
Joined Mar 2004
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I should clarify , my friend whose house was damaged , and had 2 years experience with Lipos....got complacent. He never had any problems, not one. Except the big one.

He got complacent, lazy, careless. period. He admits it.

I've asked him over and over "didn't you see the start screen? Was it normal? " He just said it all looked fine...unitl 45 minutes later.

Fortunatly this is a rare occurence. I for one, learned from it, and will continue to use Lipo's , albeit with quite a bit more respect.
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Old Aug 10, 2004, 10:08 AM
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FreeFlyer, how fortunate you were to have face mask, heavy welding gloves and a container of heavily salted water conveniently handy when this occurred. Do you always charge batteries that way?
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