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PGS 37-2: Storage of lithium batteries and accumulators: how to do it safely

Do you work with lithium batteries and accumulator storage? Then there are risks that can lead to short circuits and eventually fires. Until recently, there were no rules or regulations for the storage of lithium batteries and there is still insufficient knowledge among users about how to do it safely. This is where the PGS guidelines come in.

We will explain what PGS 37 means for you in this blog.

Risks involved in storing lithium batteries and accumulators

Lithium batteries and accumulators can become unstable in case of overcharging, deep discharging, and high and low temperatures. Damage from falls or bumps can also cause batteries and accumulators to become unstable. You can be sure you have unstable batteries if you detect smoke, heat or a strange smell coming off them. Instability, in turn, can lead to short circuits and spontaneous combustion releasing toxic substances. Extinguishing the fire will create toxic extinguishing water, which in turn poses a danger to firefighters, other first-aid responders, bystanders and residents.

What is PGS 37?

PGS stands for Publication Series of Hazardous Substances (Publicatiereeks Gevaarlijke Stoffen in Dutch). A PGS guideline contains the most important risks concerning environmental and fire safety. A PGS guideline also describes the measures that can be taken to increase safety and reduce risks of incidents and their consequences. Two PGS guidelines apply to lithium batteries and accumulators: PGS 37-1 and PGS 37-2.

PGS 37-1 focuses on Energy Storage Systems (EOS or Energie Opslag Systemen in Dutch) where large amounts of energy are stored – also known as ‘neighborhood’ or ‘community’ batteries. PGS 37-2 deals with the storage of lithium-based energy carriers. Especially the PGS 37-2 guideline is important for Stibat Services, our chain partners and for users who (temporarily) store lithium batteries.

First version of PGS 37-2

Before a PGS guideline is officially created, there is always room for feedback from users and professionals. Until May 2022, this also applied to the first version of the PGS 37-2. Official final regulations are expected to be in place by 2023. Nevertheless, you can prepare now for the measures you will have to take later. View the first version of the PGS 37-2 via this link. PLEASE NOTE – this is a draft version, changes may still be made.

How to proceed?

The first version of the PGS 37-2 contained a number of measures that were practically impossible to implement in the field that Stibat and its chain partners are active in. As Stibat, we have submitted our view and called upon the PGS 37-2 Working Group to develop a separate scenario for discarded energy carriers that are (temporarily) stored at (sorting) companies and collectors of consumer batteries and accumulators.

This is because we believe that the measures for sorters and collectors should be proportionate and practical so that these companies can continue their collection activities. In doing so, consumers and other “end users” can retain, and even increase, the ease of submission. In addition, customization of measures tailored to the type of company, the composition of the mix of batteries (% lithium batteries), and to the volume remains necessary.