Silverlake Automotive Recycling [Silverlake] has invested in state-of-the-art, bespoke lithium-ion battery storage containers as part of its fire risk assessment and mitigation strategy.  The move reflects the 21% increase in end-of-life hybrid and EV vehicles the business has handled in the last 12 months. 

According to the National Fire Chiefs Council, the reignition of lithium-ion batteries is possible after prolonged periods, after mechanical shock, heating or battery faults. They may also require extended periods of cooling and monitoring after a fire or collision.  Addressing these risks, Silverlake’s battery storage containers have external temperature gauges which monitor the temperature inside the container, alerting staff to any issues before they open the container doors. 

Internally, shelves house batteries of different makes and sizes and every shelf has its own fire suppression system.  Each battery has its own compartment and an individual temperature gauge, testing the air temperature around the battery to indicate any problems with individual batteries.  Internal and external temperature gauges are checked and recorded by staff twice daily.  Thermal imaging cameras are also fitted adjacent to the containers, providing 24 hour monitoring 365 days a year.   

In the event of a fire, external pipework feeds jets inside the storage container, enabling fire fighters to attach their equipment directly to a dedicated external vent to pump water/foam into the container, without having to open the container doors and allow oxygen to accelerate the fire.  Hampshire and IOW Fire & Rescue Services are so impressed with the system they have donated long length hoses, stored at Silverlake’s site, ready for use by fire fighters.    

The battery storage containers are cited in a designated EV area, away from the EV workshop and other site infrastructure and offices, mitigating the fire risk to people, vehicle stock and Silverlake operations.  Swift and easy access for fire engines was also used to help determine their position.

Allen Prebble, managing director at Silverlake said: “Fire risk safety and management is a priority at Silverlake. We saw this investment as an important step to future-proof our business, and keep our people and facilities safe, whilst addressing some of the potential fire risks associated with lithium-ion batteries. The Silverlake team has received full training on EV handling and working practices and this training has been extended to include the use of the battery storage containers and monitoring, recording and escalation processes.

“As part of the e2e Total Loss Vehicle Management network, we have been pleased to host site visits for other members to share our experience of these battery storage solutions and we have received considerable interest from the wider market.  We recently successfully passed our annual fire safety inspection and the fire inspector was impressed by the design of the battery storage containers and the processes we have developed to gain maximum fire risk mitigation.  We anticipate battery recycling will continue to be a growing revenue stream for our business, as more EVs and hybrids hit the UK roads, and we plan to invest in further storage containers in 2024.”