Commercial buildings and power grids look to lithium ion-based energy storage systems (ESS) to fulfill their energy needs. However, these ESS are under scrutiny in the aftermath of several fires and explosions. The fundamental nature of these battery fires creates extinguishing challenges for all fire suppression technologies. Because of outgassing prior to and during ignition of the batteries, re-flash remains a potential hazard. Early detection of smoke, heat and potentially explosive gasses is critical. In addition, the industry needs advanced aerosol-based fire extinguishers to keep fire in enclosed spaces under control.

Minnetonka-based Fireaway Inc. comes to the aid of these companies with Stat-X®. An aerosol fire suppression fixed system, Stat-X, provides safe and superior aerosol fire suppression with significant weight, space, and maintenance reductions. The fire suppression systems are approved for Class A (surface fires), Class B, and C fires. “We have commercialized, condensed aerosol technology for use in innovative extinguishing systems and new firefighting strategies,” says Lance D. Harry, P.E., president and CEO of Fireaway. Fireaway designs and manufactures an environmentally friendly, automatic, aerosol fire suppression product line for many industrial applications.

Unlike traditional gas systems operating under high pressure, which readily finds leakage within the hazard area, Stat-X aerosol operates at low pressure, remains buoyant, and extinguishes fire in seconds. “We use a fine particulate aerosol that interrupts the fires’ chemical chain reaction,” says Harry. Stat-X provides systems protecting either 20- or 40-foot typical shipping containers and modular or even cube-style containers. Most containers and cube-style enclosures are designed to maximize the battery density for greatest energy storage and output; thus, floor space is limited or non-existent in many structures. The Stat-X system design enables clients to mount the device(s) directly to the ceiling or walls, easily fitting into these tight spaces. Additionally, due to their fast response time, and low fire extinguishing concentration, Stat-X fire suppression systems may be used in critical applications across a wide range of industries.

We have commercialized condensed aerosol technology for use in innovative extinguishing systems and new firefighting strategies

Stat-X’s aerosol units are connected to a control panel and integrated smoke detectors that trigger alarms, discharging condensed aerosol in the space. Upon activation, the generators discharge an ultra-fine aerosol which suppresses fire. The aerosol stays suspended for up to 20 minutes in an enclosure to prevent re-ignition of the fire. The Stat-X agent can successfully extinguish single and double cell battery fires. It is recommended that a dry pipe sprinkler be included in the event of reflash and/or thermal runaway for cooling.

The firm also provides the Stat-X First Responder®, a handheld unit designed for knockdown or suppression of a fire in an enclosed area, that may be encountered by emergency personnel before significant assets arrive on the scene. The unit is also effective in underground manhole fires.

Fireaway has its global headquarters in Minnesota, where the company assembles, and quality checks its aerosol units. Marching ahead, the firm aims to expand the area of its facility to accommodate more processes and workers. It focuses on expanding its application within the ESS environment. “Our primary concern is to ensure that the system is applicable, usable, and appropriate for all different types of battery technology,” says Harry.

ESS deployment continues to grow, supporting the rapid adoption of renewable energy infrastructure. Fireaway continues to research fire suppression in new and developing battery technologies and chemistries. As a leader in the manufacture of fire suppression systems for the ESS industry, Fireaway must ensure it is ready for the hazards and challenges brought on by these new battery technologies.