After several battery fire incidents, LG Energy Solution has announced on the recalling of energy storage system (ESS) batteries manufactured between April 2017 and September 2018, and will be offering free replacements. LG Energy Solution is expected to lose $350 million accordingly.
LG Energy Solution pointed out that the electrodes in the earlier batteries are defected and may result in overheating, while commenting that this batch of batteries were manufactured at the Nanjing factory, and will be replacing batteries of brand new technology for its clients. To avoid overheating batteries while waiting for replacement, the company will also update the battery diagnosis and control software, as well as implement on-site inspection, in order to minimize the relevant risks.
This is not the first time for LG Energy Solution to be recalling its lithium batteries. The US subsidiary had already recalled the residential RESU batteries sold between 2017 and March 2019 during December 2020 after 5 incidents related to residential ESS.
LG batteries have been involved in frequent fire incidents. The fire derived from the ESS at Hongseong County of the South Chungcheong Province on April 6th this year did not result in casualties, though the ESS equipment and 140 units of internal batteries were damaged at the end, and the company sustained a loss of roughly KRW 500 million in assets.
Several fire incidents related to LG batteries had occurred between 2018 and 2019, including the first battery explosion in the US. Arizona Public Service (APS) that was responsible for investing the explosion believed that it was caused by a series of malfunctions, where the lithium-ion batteries were already short and overheated, and the fire extinguishing system inside the battery container was not able to prevent the overheated batteries from spreading to the neighbors, which resulted in an overheating for the battery unit formed by several batteries and battery management systems, followed by an incessant cascade thermal runaway at the end.
LG Chem and Exponent had proposed a different investigation report, and claimed that they collected evidence that eliminates the possibility of the battery cell being the cause of fire, where the external electric arc could have also led to the fire. LG Energy Solution previously commented that the cause of fire may also include management and operation, apart from the battery itself, since an ESS contains numerous components and parts, where the inverter and adapter could also be the factor.
However, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) joined hands with businesses on forming an investigation committee in 2019, and initiated investigation on domestic fire incident related to batteries. The committee discovered that batteries contain a few defects, including poor excision, pleated sheet, and coating.
LG Energy Solution is currently expanding its territory in the US. The company announced in March to be investing more than US$4.5 billion in the US within 4 years, and confirmed that it would be enlarging the production capacity of battery in the country from 70 GWh to over 110 GWh. It then announced in April that it would be investing more than US$2.3 billion with Ultium Cells LLC (joint venture of GM) on establishing automotive battery factories in Tennessee.
(Cover photo source: LG Chem)