Lithium has long been used as a treatment for bipolar mental illness, and perhaps there is a connection to the environmental mania for electric cars that depend on huge lithium-ion batteries. Further to John’s post yesterday about electric cars colliding with reality, I pass along this news item today:
CHICAGO (AP) — Lithium batteries exploded loudly overnight inside a burning former paper mill in northern Illinois that officials had believed was long abandoned, and fire officials have decided to let the blaze burn out because they fear trying to extinguish it could trigger more explosions.
The fire that started in Morris Tuesday prompted city officials to order the evacuation of 3,000-4,000 people in some 950 nearby homes, a school, church and small businesses. . .
The fire chief said he’s gathering information from fire departments and other experts on how to fight the fire in a building that — to the surprise of his department and other city agencies — was being used to store nearly 100 tons of lithium batteries ranging in size from cellphone batteries to large car batteries.
Steffes’ firefighters stopped using water on the blaze minutes after they arrived when they discovered the batteries because water and firefighting foam can cause batteries to explode. And he said while he has heard some ideas on how to battle the blaze — road salt has been suggested — he won’t send crews to battle the fire because of the unknowns about what’s inside. . .
The mayor said the city didn’t know the building was being used to store batteries until it caught fire, and that he knows very little about the company that owns them.
What could go wrong with scaling up this technology by 1,000 times? Maybe it is time for environmentalists to double up on their personal lithium dose, since their mania seems unabating at the moment.