Opinion: Electric car revolution welcome but safety is paramount

Chemstore UK welcomes the Government’s announcement that all new vehicles in Britain will be electric from 2035 and the positive impact this will have on the environment, however when it comes to the technology behind electric vehicles – lithium-ion batteries – it must be remembered that safety is paramount.

Lithium-ion batteries have quickly become ubiquitous powering so many of our every day devices from mobile phones and laptops to power tools. However their risks are still poorly understood.

Lithium-ion batteries are now a common contributor to household fires and they have become a serious hazard in waste and recycling centres as people casually dispose of them within their household waste with little understanding of the dangers they pose. They are also present a serious hazard within industrial premises.

One major issue is that they are vulnerable to thermal runaway, an uncontrollable chain reaction during which the high heat created by the failing cell can develop to the next cell, causing it to also become thermally unstable. Once ignited, the batteries can also emit toxic fumes and battery cells can reignite hours after an initial fire has been extinguished making them extremely unpredictable for the fire service to deal with.

Why lithium-ion battery fires start is unclear but manufacturing defects and contamination, damage in transit and over charging are all thought to play a role. If they are not appropriately segregated there is also the risk of them being affected by a fire that has started elsewhere which can have devastating consequences.

More questions than answers

The reality is that there are more questions than answers at the moment about lithium-ion battery safety and even the fire service is learning as we go. Research is underway which will hopefully provide some clarity but it is prudent to manage lithium-ion batteries with the utmost caution until we fully understand their risks, handling them with care and keeping them in specialised safe storage facilities, such as Chemstore’s Electrovault range, segregated from other hazards.

As trusted specialists in hazardous materials, at Chemstore UK, we are already working with leaders in the automotive and motorsports industry to ensure they are handling and storing their lithium-ion batteries in line with best practice as it is currently understood.

However whether you are an electric car manufacturer handling and storing vast quantities of lithium-ion batteries, or just dealing with this technology in small amounts, it is important not to overlook this omnipresent risk.

Chemstore UK offers a range of indoor and outdoor handling and storage solutions for lithium-ion batteries as well as providing bespoke storage options. Contact us today on 020 8704 1807 to find out more.

Chemstore to launch Chempli at ChemUK2020
Chemstore, the hazardous materials experts, will be launching ‘Chempli’, a software tool for hazardous materials management that reduces risk, improves compliance and quality control, and simplifies maintenance at ChemUK 2020 which takes place on the 13th & 14th May.

Chempli features a remote monitoring system that enables full temperature control, fire alarm visibility and data logging from any location and at any time, which is critical for the safe storage of hazardous substances as well as for quality control.

The Chempli online portal can be accessed via a QR code found on any of Chemstore’s range of hazardous materials storage solutions including: Firevault, Corvault, Electrovault, Thermovault, Hazvault and Gasvault. Chempli can also be accessed via a web browser.

Visit Chemstore on stand G27 to find out more.
www.chemicalukexpo.com
Free chemical storage surveys

Chemstore, the hazardous materials experts, are currently offering free, no-obligation chemical storage surveys throughout the UK.

Ensure your chemical storage arrangements are compliant with latest health & safety regulations; book a survey with your local chemical storage expert today and get your site in order for 2020.

Questions answered during a chemical storage survey include:

1. Where should chemicals be stored?

2. What is the requirement for storing chemicals?

3. What are the requirements for safe chemical storage?

3. Which hazardous substances should be stored separately?

Call the Chemstore team and book you free survey today. Tel: 020 8704 1807

Company fined following extensive fire at chemical site

Chemical company LMA Services Ltd has been sentenced for safety breaches after a fire which quickly took hold of buildings and storage areas at the site.

Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard that on 30 June 2016, the fire started during a chemical dispensing operation in a Warehouse on Halifax Way, Pocklington Industrial Estate, Pocklington. Heptane, a highly flammable liquid, was being decanted from a bulk storage container into 4-litre metal cans. The operator dropped the can he was filling, exited the warehouse quickly and raised the alarm. He did not suffer any serious injury. The fire spread quickly and destroyed the warehouse, the adjacent warehouse and an external storage area between the two.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the process involved placing a bulk container of heptane onto racking at a height of about 1.5m. A table was then positioned beneath the bulk container onto which a small electrical weighing scale was positioned. Metal cans were placed onto the scale and an employee filled the cans by weight by manually operating a tap on the bulk container in the warehouse building.

A flammable vapour created during the process came into contact with an ignition source causing the vapour to ignite. HSE’s investigation found that the most likely source of ignition was a spark from the electrical weighing scales.

LMA Services Ltd of Halifax Way, Pocklington Industrial Estate, Pocklington pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6 (3) of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002. The company has been fined £14,000 and ordered to pay £2,377 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Dave Stewart commented: “The risks associated with the decanting operation were not fully understood by the company. There were potential ignition sources present within the area where a flammable vapour was likely to occur.

“This case highlights the importance of assessing risks associated with flammable atmospheres. Employers should ensure that adequate measures are taken to reduce the formation of flammable atmospheres so far as is reasonably practicable, and to ensure that only suitable electrical equipment is used in areas where a flammable atmosphere may be present.”

For advice and guidance on safe flammable liquid storage, or to book a free site survey, contact Chemstore UK today on 0208 704 1807.

 

Fire-proof lithium-ion battery box

Chemstore, the hazardous materials experts, have added a fire-proof case for the safe storage and transport of lithium-ion batteries to their lithium-ion battery storage range.

The Zarges K470 battery box is a high quality aluminium container which is suitable for up to 3 lithium ion batteries of 814 Wh. The box is equipped with fireproof padding and absorbent material and has been successfully fire tested to ensure flame does not spread to adjacent batteries.

The box was originally designed for transporting damaged lithium-ion batteries and is tested and approved as hazardous goods packaging in accordance with UN requirements therefore it can be transported on public roads.

Chemstore already offers an outdoor storage option for lithium-ion batteries (the Electrovault) and an indoor storage option (the ION-LINE) so the Zarges K470 battery box is the perfect addition to the range.

Chemstore Managing Director, Mike Brodie comments: “Lithium-ion battery storage is a complex area with best practice guidance still evolving and misinformation unfortunately quite commonplace. Chemstore Engineering has fast become one of the leading product specialists in this area so we are delighted to further broaden our lithium-ion battery storage range with the addition of the Zarges battery box.”

Watch this video to find out more.

Contact Chemstore Engineering on 020 8704 1807 or email  sales@chemstore.co.uk to find out more about our range of lithium-ion battery storage products and to arrange a free site survey.

The trouble with stockpiling

According to the latest report from IHS Markit and the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply a number of firms are raising purchasing again as they restart Brexit preparations.

Chemstore UK has seen lots of examples of stockpiling during site surveys this year and we have identified some common safety concerns. Firstly, many companies are stockpiling hazardous chemicals without anywhere to safely store them, so this is something procurement departments need to be aware of before ordering surplus supplies. In addition, where companies are increasing production to meet stockpiling demands there is likely to be an increase in waste; a common situation is for waste to be left on site until a full trailer or lorry load can be filled yet no safe allocation has been made for this volume of hazardous waste. An example of small scale safe segregated waste storage can be seen here).

We urge anyone holding or producing additional hazardous materials to carefully consider their storage arrangements and if in doubt please get in touch. Call 020 8704 1807 or  email sales@chemstore.co.uk

Investing in additional safe storage facilities can be an essential part of contingency planning. Chemstore UK also offers rental options.

Get ready for winter with temperature-controlled storage

How do colder months affect chemical storage in the workplace?

As winter approaches and colder temperatures start to hit, it’s worth remembering that climate has an impact on quality and safety.

BP2
A fuel-testing module supplied by Chemstore to a BP UK site

Quality control
Temperature control is a critical factor when storing quantities of valuable products such as solvents, adhesives and coatings. It is essential in many industrial processes to maintain the optimal temperatures for these products to obtain the highest product quality for goods produced. For processes such as paint mixing, adhesive appliances and ingredient storage – companies need correct temperature controlled storage that is both compliant and fit for purpose.

Chemstore specialises in the manufacture of bespoke temperature controlled chemical stores that can be designed specifically for your product requirements.

Click here to see one of Chemstore’s temperature controlled solutions in action featuring the new touch-screen delta control panel.

For more information, just contact one of our sales team today and get prepared for the winter ahead. Call +44 20 8704 1807 or  email sales@chemstore.co.uk

Explosion at Turkish chemical plant sends drum flying

A dramatic explosion at a chemical plant in Turkey sent a metal drum rocketing into the air landing in the local street, according to reports from Sky News and Inside Edition.

Thankfully there were no fatalities following the explosion, which happened in the town of Tuzla, a suburb of Istanbul, but two fire fighters were injured and the drum narrowly missed several people when it crashed to the ground.

HSE issues advice on trading chemicals in the event of a no-deal Brexit

Advice on trading chemicals: If the UK leaves the EU without a deal companies will need to follow new rules for trading certain types of chemicals with the EU after 31 October, according to advice from the HSE.

Import or export licences needed

Just as is the case for countries outside the EU, companies may need import or export licences to trade drug precursor chemicals with the EU.

Domestic licence of registration required

To apply for an import or export licence companies must have a domestic licence or registration, which usually takes 12-16 weeks to process.

Apply now to avoid delay

The HSE advises to avoid disruption, companies can check whether the chemicals they trade will be affected and apply for a domestic licence now.

Go to GOV.UK for further guidance.

Chemstore UK welcomes John Sexton to northern sales team

Chemstore UK is delighted to welcome John Sexton to the northern sales team bringing with him a wealth of experience in the hazardous storage sector. 

Commenting on the appointment, Chemstore UK Managing Director, Mike Brodie says: “As manufacturing techniques rapidly advance hazardous materials storage is becoming ever more complex so companies are increasingly looking to experts such as Chemstore UK for guidance and support rather than just choosing off-the-shelf solutions.

“Consequently Chemstore UK is experiencing a period of rapid growth so we are pleased to welcome John to the team at this busy time.

John adds: “Chemstore UK has an exceptional product offering and a team of people who are very passionate about what they do. I am excited to join the company and look forward to playing my part in its growth.”