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Did You Know? January 2022

Did you know that Battcon is back on track? Traditionally, Battcon, the International Stationary Battery Conference was always held in the Spring at a location in Florida. Covid forced the postponement of Battcon 2021 until November. Well, due to popular request, Battcon will revert to the spring of 2023. However, this means that there will be no Battcon this year. Preparation for the conference takes almost a year, so time just does not allow for it to be held in 2022. We do know, however, that it will be held in Orlando. Eagle Eye is already planning to be there.

Although we’ve mentioned major fires caused by lithium batteries in the past, did you know they can happen on a smaller scale, too? Recently, CNN reported that a lithium-ion battery in an electric scooter self-combusted in a Bronx, New York apartment building that sparked a four alarm fire according to the FDNY. So, a word of caution, if you have one of these scooters or bikes, you may want to store it outside. Although if you live in New York City and it is stored outside, it will very quickly become someone else’s problem.

Did you know there are currently 55 operating nuclear power plants running 93 reactors in 28 states in the US? Over the next few years, some reactors are scheduled to be shut down, including the last one in California. Some of these reactors are being shut down because for safety concerns and others for economic reasons. However, on the flip side, other reactors with exemplary safety records are being allowed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to run longer than ever intended – some for up to 60 years. The big question, however, is what’s going to make up the generation shortfall?

On a similar subject, did you know that according to Reuters, coal fired plant closures will account for about 85% of the total U.S. capacity that will be lost this year? Natural gas plants and renewables are expected to pick up the slack (no pun intended), but 1.2 GW of natural gas fired capacity is also intended for retirement which is greater than the 0.8 GW represented by the nuclear plant closures. So, are renewables going to make up the looming shortfall? Minds greater than this scribe and closer to the coal face think not. Is the U.S heading for a European style power generation drought? Be prepared, get your battery-backed standby power systems maintained and tested now and beat the rush.

Did you know that the hottest topic in the battery trade press, newsletters blogs and such appears to be the recycling of lithium-ion batteries? This is not surprising as mega amounts of money is being thrown at this ugly little problem. There are a lot of promises along with the talk but is there anything really doable out there? Recycling lead-acid batteries is relatively simple, as there are only four main components; lead, dilute acid, plastic and a small amount of other metals – which are relatively easy to separate. On the other hand, lithium batteries can have a myriad of components, such as lithium itself, cobalt, manganese, nickel, carbon, iron, copper, aluminum, etc., which are much more complex and difficult to separate and recycle. There have been numerous recovery percentages thrown around but there does not seem to be anything concrete and this author doubts if it will ever reach the 99% figure claimed by the Battery Council International for lead-acid.

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