A lead-acid battery blew up when an engine was started. The incident occurred when, after conducting pre-start checks on a generator, the 2nd Engineer attempted to start the engine. As the lube oil pressure reached start pressure and the starter motor engaged, there was a loud bang from behind the engine in the vicinity of the port side battery box. The 2nd Engineer on investigating, found that one of the batteries in the bank for the generator had suffered a critical failure resulting in the top of the battery case being destroyed. He left the space immediately in case of release of hydrogen gas and woke the Chief Engineer to inform him of the incident.
What was the cause?
• The battery tie connection on the negative terminal had formed a hot joint. This would have ignited any excess hydrogen built up inside the battery box when the generator started;
• The manufacturers instructions stated that the battery should not be used in hot environments (such as engine rooms).
- Consider replacing lead acid batteries with a type that does not release hydrogen when being charged, such as AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) batteries;
- Check all battery terminals and connections;
- Follow manufacturers instructions when installing batteries.
Members may wish to refer to the following all relating to Lead-acid batteries. Incidents involving other important battery chemistries such as Lithium-ion are also available for review.
IMCA Safety Flashes summarise key safety matters and incidents, allowing lessons to be more easily learnt for the benefit of all. The effectiveness of the IMCA Safety Flash system depends on Members sharing information and so avoiding repeat incidents. Please consider adding email@example.com to your internal distribution list for safety alerts or manually submitting information on incidents you consider may be relevant. All information is anonymised or sanitised, as appropriate.
IMCA’s store terms and conditions (https://www.imca-int.com/legal-notices/terms/) apply to all downloads from IMCA’s website, including this document.
IMCA makes every effort to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data contained in the documents it publishes, but IMCA shall not be liable for any guidance and/or recommendation and/or statement herein contained. The information contained in this document does not fulfil or replace any individual’s or Member's legal, regulatory or other duties or obligations in respect of their operations. Individuals and Members remain solely responsible for the safe, lawful and proper conduct of their operations.