If you’ve ever wondered why safety is considered a systems discipline rather than simply a specialisation of chemical, civil, mechanical or electronic engineering, the humble battery is a great example. To a chemical engineer, a battery is an electrolytic process, with ions travelling from cathode to anode or vice versa, depending on what the battery is doing. To a mechanical engineer, a battery is a combined heat source and a container filled with hazardous substances. To an electronic engineer, a battery is a source or sink of electric power. In each role the battery is not a single component but is part of a variety of engineering systems. As a chemical reaction it is part of an atmospheric system. As a hot toxic container it is part of a physical layout. As a source of electricity it is part of a control or power system. For safety, we need to understand the battery as all of these things.
In this episode we’re going to discuss a number of battery hazards, along with some associated accidents.