The battery room of a ship is always under explosion risk as batteries release hydrogen during charging. Hydrogen is a highly explosive gas and it is therefore important to take necessary steps or actions while working inside the battery room during maintenance.
In this article we will go through the measures that need to be taken to ensure battery room safety.
Following are the two basic steps that need to be taken to prevent any kind of explosion:-
1) Providing proper ventilation inside the compartment.
2) By preventing any source of ignition.
Moreover, the ventilation is provided with the help of ventilation fans. The ventilation arrangement should be such that there is no accumulation of hydrogen in the space. The hydrogen is lighter than air and thus tends to accumulate in the top of the compartment. The fans should be of non sparking type and should not produce any static charge.
Also, the ventilation ducts should be below the battery level which would help in forcing the gases out. The motor used should be of a standardized approved type so that there is no chance of spark from the motor.
The tools used for maintenance should be rubberized coating to prevent any chance of short circuiting by mistake. The coating would also prevent any kind of spark generation when the tool falls on the floor.
The paint used in the battery room and materials for ducting should be corrosion resistant. No metal jugs should be used for filling distilled water inside the batteries. Other precautions include preventing usage of naked lamps and avoiding smoking in the battery room.
The battery should not be placed in the emergency switchboard room for there are chances of sparking due to arcing of the circuit breakers.
Maintenance carried out on battery.
1) The batteries should be maintained in fully charged condition and this is done by the charging circuit.
2) The state of charge can be seen with the help of hydrometer. A sample is taken in this instrument and the condition of specific gravity is checked. For a fully charged lead acid battery the specific gravity is 1.280 at 15 deg. Centigrade. Please make a note that there is no change in specific gravity in alkaline batteries during charging and discharging. This test is only for lead acid batteries.
3) Top up the batteries with distilled water as there is a loss of water during charging.
4) The battery terminals should be kept clean and should be smeared with petroleum jelly.