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Fire on hybrid ferry “Ytteroyningen” a ‘one-off event’, says Corvus

17 Dec 2019

Developer and supplier of advanced energy storage systems (ESS) for maritime, offshore, subsea and port applications Corvus Energy on Thursday (12 December) released results of a preliminary investigation in regards to a fire onboard hybrid car-ferry Ytteroyningen on 10 October.

“The investigation and findings so far show that the fire was most likely due to a coolant leak from a gasket in the Corvus liquid-cooled energy storage system and that it was a one-off event,” says Geir Bjørkeli CEO of Corvus Energy.

“For Corvus it is important to release the preliminary conclusions on the cause of the fire on board Ytteroyningen, thus avoiding speculation and uncertainty regarding the safety of lithium-ion battery-based energy storage systems. Safety has been, is and will always be Corvus Energy’s first priority.”

Based on the investigations aboard the vessel, supported by external experiments and analysis, the following preliminary conclusion has been made:

  • The most probable cause of the fire was a leakage in the battery system’s liquid cooling circuit. Findings indicate that a twisted gasket, intended to seal the cooling plate outside of a battery module, is the most probable cause of the leakage.  
  • It is too early to conclude whether the twisted gasket was a result of the recent service work on the cooling system or if it was caused by other reasons.  
  • The leakage created arcing between electrical components, at pack voltages of 1000Vdc, igniting a fire. The fire was fueled by ethylene glycol components from the coolant and caused external heating of battery modules. 
  • Due to the ongoing service work, no part of the battery system was connected to the shipside systems at the time of the incident. Consequently, no alarms from the battery system were sent through the ship’s alarm system.
  • Findings have shown that the patented and certified Corvus Passive Single Cell Thermal Runaway Isolation safety system worked as designed and intended, most likely limiting the damage from the fire.
  • Both the vessel’s Novec 1230 inert gas system and the vessel saltwater fire sprinkler system were deployed during the event. The saltwater sprinkler system was installed as an additional safety barrier. Indications are that the activation of the saltwater sprinkler system contributed to escalating the incident.
  • The further investigation will focus on how the extent and severity of the following events were able to develop towards an explosion 12 hours later in the switchboard room adjacent to the battery room.

Photo credit: Dag Inge Aarhus, Norwegian Maritime Authority
Published: 17 December, 2019


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