, 2022-07-06 23:00:06,
Boat owners who plan to install their own lithium batteries onboard are being advised to seek professional help or risk invalidating their insurance
Boat owners wanting to upgrade to a lithium-ion battery onboard are being warned to seek professional help rather than do the work themselves or face problems securing insurance for their vessels.
Boat insurance companies have raised concerns over the risk of lithium-ion batteries failing and bursting into flames due to their flammability and sensitivity to high temperatures.
A number of fires involving boats and electric vehicles are alleged to have been caused by lithium battery failure.
In 2018, the 40m motor yacht Kanga sank in Croatia after a fire onboard which was believed to have been caused by faulty lithium-ion battery packs on electric surfboards.
As they have become cheaper, the use of lithium-ion batteries has risen in the sailing sector, as owners find ways to cut fuel costs and exhaust emissions.
According to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s Marine Guidance Notice 550, which provides guidance on the safe design, installation and operation of lithium-ion batteries, an increase in cell temperature due to damage or short-circuiting is the most significant risk when using lithium-ion batteries, which can lead to a thermal runaway.
‘A key hazard of lithium-ion technology is the way a minor lithium-ion cell defect can quickly cascade into a full battery fire incident,‘ it said.
Some insurance brokers are now refusing to insure boats with lithium-ion batteries on board or have put caveats in place for their use.
Haven Knox-Johnston says it has ‘no issues’ with lithium batteries as long as they are not used as a replacement for the main engine.
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