Li-ion Tamer is leading the way in ensuring the safety and economic viability of clean energy storage facilities. For its efforts, the Ohio-based company is The Cleanie Awards® 2019 Startup of the Year Gold winner.
Energy storage is critical to the continued growth and expansion of renewable energy. Without it, harnessing solar, wind, and other clean energy sources becomes increasingly difficult as demand rises. It’s vital the batteries used to store this energy are safe for communities and for the companies investing in clean energy.
Li-ion Tamer, which develops and manufactures safety systems for lithium-ion batteries, started as a technology developed by Nexceris for the U.S. Navy in 2010. It earned a reputation for solving problems, all the while preventing potentially catastrophic lithium-ion battery explosions and fires.
In short, Li-ion Tamer makes lithium-ion batteries and clean energy storage facilities safer.
Li-ion Tamer, a wholly owned entity of Nexceris, developed a sensor that protects against potential dangerous off-gas events and battery failures. When pressure builds up inside a cell, it releases gas from the cell. Li-ion Tamer’s technology detects the gas and provides an early warning to avert potential disaster.
Before disaster strikes, Li-ion Tamer detects the battery fault which enables the battery to be turned off to prevent it from going into thermal runaway. If thermal runaway occurs, it ignites a fire that’s extremely difficult to extinguish. Typical smoke detectors and sprinkling systems generally won’t cut it.
On a stove, when a pot of water boils, you can stop the boiling by turning off the burner. But when a lithium-ion battery heats up and reaches thermal runaway, it releases additional energy that causes it to get even hotter.
Adding off-gas detection into an energy storage system creates an additional barrier, preventing thermal runaway — and deadly fires.
Companies that take advantage of technologies to make their storage systems safer are well-positioned to achieve a competitive edge.
“The companies that prioritize safety, they’re the ones that are going to win in this space,” said Randall Stacy, Nexceris’ chief commercial officer. “There’s no question about it. The companies that have at their core a safety-first attitude are going to be the ones that make it in the long run.”
“We’ve seen it time and time again with all the different catastrophic fires that have occurred in energy storage,” said Randall Stacy, Nexceris’ chief commercial officer. “Li-ion Tamer ensures investors and firefighters have a fighting chance to recover.”
In fact, at least 27 documented fires have occurred in South Korea in the past two years, causing tens of millions of dollars in damage. South Korea maintains about 25% of the world’s lithium-ion battery energy storage capacity. Closer to home, an energy storage facility explosion Arizona in April 2019 sent eight firefighters to the hospital.
Such fires may well have been prevented with Li-ion Tamer’s off-gas-detection technology.
This award is the latest milestone for a company with a decorated history.
First conceived as a safety device for U.S. Navy applications, Li-ion Tamer has evolved in the last decade to serve the transportation, grid storage, residential energy, and laboratory safety markets.
Li-ion Tamer’s work with the U.S. Navy resulted in an expanded team of developers that included DNV-GL and Beckett Energy Systems in work funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.
More recent efforts include working with the Federal Aviation Administration to study ways of detecting battery issues in aircraft. Li-ion Tamer’s also exploring battery safety issues in emerging maritime and mining markets.
Li-ion Tamer estimates lithium-ion energy storage could become a $35 billion business in the next seven years, up from $2.5 billion today. Therefore, as demand for and usage of lithium-ion batteries rise, so too will the need for safe storage.