Battery Explosions: Risks and Prevention

Although lead acid batteries are widely used in automobiles and are generally considered safe, they can present hazards. These hazards include hydrogen gas produced during charging or as a result of corrosion during the chemical process. Sometimes hydrogen can build up to the extent that ignition will produce an explosion, and ignition sources exist in terms of possible arcing at electrical connections. The casing of a lead acid battery is not normally considered a pressure vessel, but when hydrogen builds up and is ignited, it rapidly becomes one. Commonly, pieces of the casing and acid may be projected outward, causing injury, unless there is a protective shield or containment. Battery explosions cause 22,000 injuries a year. The increasing use of electric vehicles, many with lead acid storage batteries that will need to be charged regularly and rapidly, necessitates the need to reduce the severity of battery explosion accidents. The authors have found that the most common severe personal injuries associated with battery explosions are acid burns and missile impact. Based on cost-risk benefits analysis, prevention is needed in the form of hazards containment or vessel design to contain the over-pressure levels due to a hydrogen explosion, or personal protection is needed. Protection can also be provided through venting and chemical neutralizing. Costs associated with serious injury from battery explosions are estimated at $2 billion annually, and initial added costs for protection are estimated at $20-30 million annually.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Features: Figures; Tables;
  • Pagination: pp 28-29
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01029197
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 21 2006 2:33PM